Monday, September 24, 2012

Monthly Meal Planning

It's the last week of September, which means I've started thinking about October meal planning.

In September I did meal-planning for the entire month all at once. I loved doing it, but it was easy because the month was filled with birthdays, gatherings and other events that meant we never had a full week of at-home eating. (And I sort of stopped following it by the end of the month.)

Why did I decide to meal-plan for the entire month at once? Many reasons.
1. I'm hoping to stream-line my grocery shopping and get as much done in bulk at BJ's at the beginning of the month as possible.
2. I'm sick of throwing away food. This happens because we don't eat our leftovers. With no plan in mind, the leftovers just sit in the fridge and go bad.
3. I'm developing a budget for my family, and part of that is figuring out how to get the most bang for my buck when it comes to food shopping.

I realized last month that planning monthly meals is much different than planning for the week. I needed to find a new plan of attack, and I started today.

First, I sat down and wrote down all the meals I'm hoping to make this month. I used my Pinterest boards for some ideas, used some of our old stand-bys and favorites, and included a few things I've wanted to try but haven't had a chance to in a while.

When I had my meal ideas, I sat down and filled in days that I know we won't be home or won't be wanting to eat full meals at home. (Joseph's birthday, Halloween, etc.)

Then I started plugging meals into dates on the calendar. If one meal had an ingredient that could be included in another meal, I put them in back-to-back.  Every third day or so I included a "leftover" night. This means we'll eat any leftovers from the past three nights. If there aren't enough, I can supplement with extra vegetables or salad.

Once I had the meals planned out, I made the grocery lists. One big BJ's list, and then each week a supplementary list based on our meals and weekly staples. (Milk, cheese, yogurt, fruit.) Those weekly lists are much shorter than normal, which should help with the budget!

I then went through my coupon stash and pulled out any of them that corresponded to an item I had on one of my lists. (I clipped each coupon to it's matching list.) If I had a coupon for something that wasn't on my list, I didn't pull it out. I always fall into the trap of "oh, this coupon is too good to waste!" and end up buying things I don't really need.

I'm really hoping that this method of meal planning will be successful. (It took a lot of time to plan and organize everything, so i'm hoping it will be worth it!)

Do you meal plan? What's your system? Do you do it weekly? Monthly? I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. This system I did was a lot of work, so finding ways to streamline it might help!


  1. I've been doing it weekly, but I plan to start monthly menu planning soon!

  2. You are my hero! I don't think I could do it for a whole month. I do a week at a time, every Sunday morning. Then I shop the cabinets and make a list for my husband to take to the store. I really try to plan around what we already have as much as possible to try to keep the bill at the store as low as I can. We do a stock up shop once every 4 - 6 weeks or so, either with sales at Stop & Shop or at BJ's. This has been a pretty good system for us so far! I can't wait to see how your monthly plan goes!! :)

  3. I really need to start budgeting a lot better for our food. How are BJ's meat prices compared to S&S or Dave's? That is the real $$ taker in my budget. Although I use budget loosely...I tend to just shop the sales. Which may impede a monthly meal plan.

  4. Good for you! I try and try but end up losing the meal plan and list (or it was stolen by little hands).

  5. That is awesome. I need to start doing that


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