Frustrated with deciding what to make for dinner every night? Yes, I was too until I started to plan them in advance. I used to plan them a week in advance and that actually worked pretty well as I made weekly trips to the grocery store. But when I decided to cut down my trips to the store to only once every two weeks (not just to save money but because I dreaded going every week and wanted to make better use of my time), I decided to take meal planning a step further and plan a whole month of meals. The beauty of creating this plan is that you can use it again month after month. So, why would anyone want to plan their meals in advance? First, it makes grocery shopping easier whether you shop every week or every two weeks. You can refer to your list, take inventory of food you have on hand, and make a list of what you need to get at the store. It also helps balance your meals and creates variety throughout the week and month (preventing you from having Italian dinners or burgers three days in a row). Plus, having this list and sharing it with your family cuts out that nagging question you seem to get from everyone, “What’s for dinner tonight?”
So, here’s how to plan a full month of meals in just 3 steps:
STEP 1: Make a list and number it 1-31.
STEP 2: Assign a meal to each number. Some meals can be repeated (we eat pizza and fajitas every week). Just be sure to space the repeat meals at least 7 numbers apart so you are not eating the same meal twice in one week. Each number corresponds to the day of the month for example: #1 = 1st of March; #15 = 15th of April and so on. Obviously not every month has 31 days in it so you simply skip the meal listed as #31 (and of course you’ll skip 2-3 days of meals in the quirky month of February).
STEP 3: Post the list where everyone can see it. Print it out and put in on the fridge or your family bulletin board. I printed my list and posted it on a shared calendar online so my husband can see it whenever he’s logged-on to a computer or checks his iPhone.
Pretty simple, huh? It took me less than half an hour to plan our meals and post them. I love that I can look at this list the night before or even the morning of to see if I have to pull something out of the freezer to defrost. Don’t worry if you don’t stick to the plan day by day. If you want to change it up a little for the next month….go for it! Change just a couple of meals instead of creating an entirely new list. Or just keep using the same list month after month like I do. If you go out to dinner…great! You don’t have to do a thing that day…woo-hoo!!!
The whole purpose of this list is to provide consistency and an easier way to plan your meals. With all the things we have to do every day and expend extra brain cells on, this is just one less thing you have to think or stress about. Perhaps it’ll make your life a little more “simplifized.”