Monthly Meal Planning

by Maria on September 17, 2014

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The hardest part about weekly meal planning for me is the decisions. I usually have way too many recipes that I want to make in any given week, so sitting down on a Sunday morning to decide which ones make the cut and on which night can feel daunting. Occasionally this can make me stall or even skip the whole process, which is never a good thing.

So I recently started planning out our dinners for a month at a time. You would think coming up with a whole month’s worth of meals is even harder, but it’s actually not. Rather than making so many decisions about what to “feature” each week it allows me to plug in all the household favorites and any new recipes that I want to try. It also lets me see how different foods are spread out and make sure that we are having enough variety throughout the month.

It can be easy to get carried away in the whole meal planning thing and be too ambitious. You have to be realistic and do what you know will be feasible for you. Don’t plan to try out a new recipe each night of the week, instead, find a formula that works. Maybe you cook 2 new recipes a week, 3 family favorites, 1 night take out, and one night leftovers. Or maybe you just plan the weekdays and leave the weekends more spontaneous. Simplify your life.  

You could also help the planning process by coming up with theme nights that work for you. For instance Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays, Soup and Sandwich Thursdays, and Fish Fridays. This time of year also calls for bringing the crock pot and casserole recipes back into rotation.

Create your plan in a way that works for you. I like to use pen and paper to map out the month and then each Sunday I fine tune the week using a weekly planning template. But if you like to be paperless, try plugging everything into a google or other online calendar. This way you could even choose to repeat your weekly plan every certain number of weeks. You could even schedule reminders like: marinate chicken or defrost fish. Talk about simplifying.

I also like to post our plan where my kids can see it. Last spring I painted the back of a door in the kitchen with chalkboard paint -- it has been a fun place to post the weekly menu. I find that the kids get excited when they can check and see what is coming their way for dinner.

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