monthly meal planner

Monthly Meal Planning Ideas: How to Create a Monthly Meal Planner

Nowadays, meal planning is quite popular. But have you ever wondered why? Why is it worth the extra work of filling weekly or monthly meal planner templates? I will tell you why! 🙂

Regarding meal planning, the last time we talked about budget meal planning because it can save you a lots of money in addition to being healthier. 😉 Now, it is time to talk about monthly meal planning that has numerous benefits as well. I’ll admit I have had a hard time getting into a rhythm with meal plans myself- but I know it could have a major impact on that annoying question we all get asked each night- “What’s for dinner?” If I sucked it up and started making an effort I know it would become second nature in a few short weeks or months, just like any habit worth starting 😉

If it seems difficult to plan your meals for a whole month, don’t worry. With a few tips and a little practice, you can create your own monthly meal planner pretty fast. Are you ready to learn how? Then let’s get started.

Benefits of monthly meal planning

monthly meal planner

If you take your time and you fill out your monthly meal planner thoroughly you will be surprised by the many benefits this will bring to you. Here are a few benefits of monthly meal planning:

You can save time

One of the biggest advantages of planning your meals for a month is that you can be more productive and save time by batching tasks. You don’t have to spend time each day thinking about what you should cook, then looking for recipes, checking what you have in the fridge and pantry, etc. Plus, grocery shopping won’t take so long since you will know exactly what to look for.

You can save money

There are many reasons why you can save money with monthly meal planning. First of all, you will spend less money on shopping since with a meal plan in your hand you will be less likely to buy unnecessary things.

Secondly, when you plan the month in advance, you can buy food in bulk which can save you a lot of money. Also, you can watch the sales for those items you will need in that month.

Lastly, with effective meal planning, you will have less food waste.

Related read: 30 Day Health Challenge Ideas: The Nutrition Edition

You will be less stressed

Are you often stressed because you don’t know what to cook for dinner? (Many of us don’t even realize this is a huge stressor until we stop to evaluate!) You can say goodbye to this feeling when planning your meals for a whole month.

You will waste less food

As mentioned above, most likely you will waste less food with a great meal plan and meal prep. This is because you won’t end up throwing away the surplus: you will use every ingredient before it could expire.

You can eat more healthily

Creating a meal plan gives a great opportunity to change your diet and eat more healthily. You can add more vegetables (for example, green leafy vegetables) and fruits into your diet. And at the same time you can avoid eating highly-processed foods and reduce your sugar intake as well.

Related read: How to Stop Eating Junk Food: Practical Tips

How to create your monthly meal planner

monthly meal planner

If you would like to create your monthly meal planner, follow these instructions. Don’t worry, I made it as simple as possible. 🙂

  1. First you will need a calendar template (paper or on one of your electronics- depending on what you will use more consistently). It can be a simple calendar with plenty of space to write, or you can check out a few monthly meal plan templates on the internet and print one.
  2. After this, make a list of your recipes. Make sure to include all your favorite recipes and some quick and easy recipes that you can add to the menu for those night’ when you’re in a time pinch. When you make the list, try to categorize the recipes by type (soups, grill, tacos, fried, vegan, baked, etc.).
  3. When you’ve collected as many recipes as you can, look at your plans for the month. Does your family have some activities that can affect the meals? For example, if you have a dinner invitation to your parents’ home, then that day you don’t have to prepare dinner. Make a note about these activities or plans on your meal planner calendar.
  4. Go through each day and fill the calendar with the recipes you collected. You can, and should, use one recipe multiple times in the month. Try to make your meal plans as healthy and delicious as possible (yes they can exist together)! Don’t forget about the breakfast too. You can choose some simple options for breakfast, such as scrambled eggs, cereal, oatmeal, chia pudding, etc.
  5. Print your meal plan.
  6. Make a shopping list for the meals you planned.
  7. Buy the ingredients you need at the grocery store.
  8. Time block your calendar for meal preparation- spend one day a month or week (depending on time and the recipes) prepping.

It’s not so difficult, right?! It’s just a matter of making it a habit and figuring out what works best for you or your family.

Maybe at first, it will take some time until you create your monthly meal planner, but over time you will get used to it and it become faster and more efficient.

Related read: Healthy Weekly Meal Plan with Grocery List

Some ideas to make monthly meal planning easier and save more time

meal prep

Make a plan for 2 weeks, then use the same for the other 2 weeks

If you want to save some time and make everything simpler when you make your monthly plan stop when you are done with the first 2 weeks. Then fill the other 2 weeks left in the month with the same content. Simply repeat it!

Use certain types of recipes each day

When you are planning your meals, try to use certain types of recipes each day. What do I mean by this? For example, make taco Mondays, grill Tuesdays, leftover Wednesdays, Italian Thursdays, etc.

You got the idea, right? Believe me, this will make the process of planning much easier.

Use special cooking websites or applications where you can search for recipes by ingredients

You can save both time and money by using some cooking websites or applications that allow you to search for recipes by entering the ingredients. This way you can use all the ingredients you have at home so you have to throw away less food. It can also be helpful when you are out of recipe ideas.

Some meal planning apps these days let you input your own favorite recipes and add new ones as you try new things that you like. That way you always have an easy go to resource. (This is what I use Pinterest for!).

Lastly, if you just don’t want to make your own plan you can use low cost meal planning platforms that do all the heavy lifting for you. Programs like eMeals and DinnerDaily give you suggestions for meals (that you can change), make a grocery list for you, and even try to coordinate your meals with what’s on sale that week.

Cook a bigger quantity and freeze the food

You can freeze many foods, therefore it may be a great idea to cook a bigger quantity from a meal and save the rest for another time by freezing it. This way you can save time because there will be days when you don’t have to cook. On those days you should just take the meal out from the freezer.

Plus, if you love crock pot or instant pot meals, you can also try prepping your meals well in advance and storing them in the freezer until you’re ready to dump it all in the crock pot one day. This is a HUGE hack for having weekday dinners ready on demand and can save you tons of time.

Have a few breakfast options

healthy breakfast

Since breakfasts are easy to prepare, if you want, you can leave them out from your monthly meal planner. It’s enough if you have 2-5 breakfast options that you can choose from every morning.

Related read: Tips for Eating a Plant-Based Diet

The bottom line

Meal planning is not complicated. You will see that once you have your collection of recipes, planning your meals for a month will be super easy (and you can always add more and try more with time). It should not take more than 1 hour after a few months of practice to plan. How long it will take you to prep- or if you will even need to- will depend on the meals. And if you think about that it can save you time, money, and even your sanity sometimes, it’s definitely worth trying it out. Plus, it can help you reach your healthy eating goals.

Have you ever tried meal planning? Let us know about your experiences in the comment.

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One Comment

  1. There are many advantages of planning a monthly meal. It is not only healthy but also saves money. This article provides some good insights into monthly meal planning. Making a plan for 2 weeks, then use the same for the other 2 weeks is amazing advice. Thank you very much for the article.

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