Why I do a Monthly Meal Plan

I am on Spring Break this week and it has been a very welcome reprieve in a very busy semester. I finally have time to do a few projects around the house, catch up on my reading list, watch some TV, catch up on my outlines and get some much needed extra sleep.

Another thing I have done over Spring Break is make a meal plan for the month of March. I have talked about meal planning on the blog before (See this post)- that post has a lot more info about the exact process and tips for starting out with meal prepping as a beginner. I credit meal planning with saving my sanity and my waistline regularly. Basically, meal planning means that you make a list of meals for either the week or the month and then you just get home and have dinner planned. Meal planning helps me save money when shopping because I buy ingredients I can use multiple times throughout the week and it saves us money because we go out to eat less/order in less.

For most of my marriage and even before, I relied on a weekly meal plan. I would sit down on Sunday morning and plan out my weeks worth of meals and then hit the grocery store. However, my 3L year has been SO busy that I haven't even had time for weekly grocery shopping which causes a big issue for weekly meal planning. I came across ideas for monthly meal planning on Pinterest and decided to give it a try in January to see if it helped me during this busy stage of life.

Basically, for monthly meal planning, I sit down on my living room floor at the beginning of the month with a blank calendar and all my cookbooks and recipes spread out around me. I fill in the month, repeating favorite recipes as well as adding in a few new ones to try. I build in days where I know we will have leftovers to eat or nights when we don't need to cook because of an event, etc.

Here is an example of my monthly meal plan. 

Weekly, this makes my life SO much easier. I can do my shopping every other week because I already know what I need to buy. I assign a meal to each day but I don't lock into that- if I have Spaghetti down for Wednesday and we aren't feeling it, I move it to Thursday and make whatever we are wanting that night instead. It is never a perfect, changeless system, but generally, it makes our lives a ton easier.

I don't know if monthly meal planning will work for me forever but for right now, when I can barely find the time to stop at the grocery store, having to only think about what to cook for dinner once a month is SO nice and has really helped us to stay on track with a healthy diet without breaking the budget through this busy time.

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