If you feel like dinnertime is always a struggle, meal planning might be the solution! Today, we'll teach you how to meal plan for a month. Then, it's time to step off that struggle bus and kick your stress to the curb!
Whether you're cooking for one, meal planning for two, a working parent, or stay-at-home parent, planning and cooking meals can feel like a chore. But if you're willing to set aside a little bit of time just one day each month, you can save yourself a ridiculous amount of time and money.
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Ditch the delivery apps and say goodbye to frozen pizzas! Instead, you can plan a month's worth of delicious home-cooked meals without much effort. We'll show you how to meal plan for a month the easy way, plus share money-saving tips that will help you whip your wallet into shape. Here we go!
MEAL PLANNING FOR A MONTH? FREEZER MEALS ARE YOUR FRIEND!
Okay, we'll cut right to the chase with tip numero uno! If you want to try meal planning for a month, embracing freezer meals will make it SO much more manageable. Here are three game-changing hacks:
- Double & Freeze – Instead of coming up with four weeks' worth of meal ideas, think of enough meals for two weeks. As you're prepping those meals, double your recipe and freeze a batch for later. Just like that, you suddenly have four weeks' worth of meals for half the effort. #HeckYes
- Pick a Day for Meal Prep – We like to meal prep once per week! Just because you're planning for the whole month doesn't mean you have to cook it all in one day. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Set aside one or two hours on Saturday or Sunday and prep for the week ahead!
- Freeze Enough Breakfasts to Last a Month – Here's one exception to that last rule! We love prepping breakfast a month at a time. In fact, we've learned how to make a whole month's worth of breakfasts in just one hour. Yup! Go ahead and snag some of our favorite freezer breakfast recipes for inspiration.
These three tips alone are life-changing, but we've got SO much more to share, so we hope you'll stick with us! Next up: let's talk about grocery shopping.
HOW TO MEAL PLAN FOR A MONTH AND STICK TO YOUR GROCERY BUDGET
If you know how we handle grocery budgets around here, then we can guess what you might be thinking. How does a weekly grocery budget work with a monthly meal plan? Well, it's a lot easier than you might think, and you've got options! Here are three ways you can approach it:
- Plan for the Month, but Shop Every Week – Just because you plan for the month doesn't mean you have to buy everything all at once. If you'd rather make weekly trips, go for it! Remember, you're just planning for the whole month. You don't have to do all the prep in one day unless you want to.
- Do a Haul – On the other hand, if you'd rather do one day of prep for the month, go ahead and do a big grocery haul. You can freeze anything you won't use right away! Just set aside enough of your weekly budget to account for smaller, weekly grocery trips you may need to make during the month. For example, as a family of five, your monthly grocery budget is $500. You could spend $400 stocking up on all the things you need for your meal plan and set aside that extra $100 to cover the things you may need to replenish or buy fresh.
- Shop Bi-Weekly – Some of our Shelf Cooking Facebook community members swear by this method! When they're planning meals for a whole month, they like to go grocery shopping every other week. In that case, just divide that monthly budget in half, and make sure to stick to it!
There's no right or wrong way to do this, so figure out what works best for your family and your budget. If you try it one way and don't like, switch it up next month!
TOOLS THAT WILL HELP MAKE MEAL PLANNING A BREEZE
Ready to give a monthly meal plan a try? We have a few resources that will help:
- Monthly Meal Planning Worksheet – Call us old school, but we like to write things down! If you're the same way, go snag our free monthly meal planning printables and get to it.
- Kitchen Inventory Printable – Always, always, always base your meal plan around things you already have available. Too many folks do meal planning backward. That's tough on your grocery budget and leads to a ton of waste! We've got free kitchen inventory printables that will help you take stock of all your frozen foods. The same goes for the pantry and fridge, too.
- Favoreats App – Once you know what you have, you're ready to start searching for ways to use up those ingredients. We love the Favoreats app because it makes it so easy! You can search by ingredient, dietary preference, and more. Use code JORDAN15 for 15% off.
Of course, we've got TONS of recipes here on our blog, too. And the best part? They're all shelf cooking friendly! For example, take a peek at this list of hundreds of dinner ideas.
DO YOU PREFER WEEKLY OR MONTHLY MEAL PLANNING?
Well, there you go! Now you know how to meal plan for a month. We hope these quick tips and tricks that will help! Whatever you decide to do, make sure you stick to that budget.
Which do you prefer? Monthly plans or weekly plans? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
Want to try a few recipes we love?
- These zucchini boats are so delicious and so dang easy!
- Craving Chick-fil-A on a Sunday? We've got you covered with this chicken nuggets recipe!
- Don't forget to meal plan for desserts, too. This 3-ingredient Snickers apple salad is quick, easy, and yummy!