Do you feel like you make the same dishes all the time? I mean, if spaghetti is your go-to meal and on the menu every week, then this blog is for you.
Not too long ago I gave you tips on how to save at the grocery store even without using coupons. In which, one of those tips were to plan your meals in advance, and make your grocery list accordingly.
Today, I want to share with you how I plan our meals.
I don’t like to refer to myself as being busy. I see myself as being very productive. And in the past, with my productive schedule, stopping to cook dinner was a chore at times.
When I was pressed for time, I found myself making the same things over and over. One day, I expressed this frustration with my mentor, who later became my spiritual mother, and she showed me how to plan my meals for one month without repeating a meal.
How is that possible?
THE MEAL PLANNING GUIDE
There are 4 steps to planning a dinner menu without repeating a meal. However, before I walk you through these steps, be sure to print The Meal Planning Guide from our FREE COMMUNITY LIBRARY under the home section, or by filling out the form below.
This guide has everything you need to make meal planning simple, and efficient.
The Meal Planning Guide includes:
Meal Preparation Sheets (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Monthly Family Menu
Now, let’s talk about how we will use the Meal Planning Guide to plan dinner for a month without repeating a meal!
Write down what you know how to make by category.
Print the Menu Preparation sheet that’s included in the Meal Planning Guide below. You will notice there is a preparation sheet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For the sake of time, I am going to use the dinner preparation sheet as our example. (If you want to meal plan for breakfast and lunch just follow the same steps.)
At the top of the Menu Preparation page, use the top circular boxes of each column to write the main dish categories you know how to make.
For example, let’s say I know how to make meals in these categories: Salads, Ground Turkey, Chicken, and Seafood. Then my menu preparation sheet would look like this:
If you have more than four categories, just use additional sheets.
Next, write down all the ways you know how to make each category. For example, if you wrote Chicken as a category, you would write down all the ways you know how to make chicken in that column. (I.E. BBQ, Grilled, Honey Chicken, etc.)
If we’re following the category examples we listed earlier, then our menu preparation sheet would look something like this:
This may seem time-consuming and overwhelming, but in reality, you will only have to do this step once. After you have written down what you know how to make, you’ll just add to this list as you come across new recipes.
Fill In your Family Menu with calendar dates.
Print the Family Menu sheet which is also included in the Menu Planning Guide at the bottom of this post; then fill in the current calendar month and days.
Fill In the calendar with dates you know you may not need a meal, (i.e. vacations, or night you will be having dinner out, etc.)
When I do this, I look at our family activity calendar and make note of the days I have a hectic evening scheduled, so I can plan crock meals on those days.
I will also make note of the days we will be out of town, or somewhere else for dinner. That way, I’m not laboring over what to cook on the days we won’t be home.
Lastly, I will determine what days will be my free day. I use free days when I know I’m not going to cook, which is usually my grocery shopping day. The kids love it! That’s because anything goes for dinner: breakfast, a sandwich, left overs, or they can fast…LOL.
Ok, so once you know the days you will need meals, it’s now time to plug in what you’ll make!
Fill in your Family Menu with what you will make.
If you successfully completed the menu preparation, this will be the fastest step. Just determine what days will be your category theme, and then insert meals according to the day.
For example, if Sunday’s will be my chicken days and the month of August has 4 Sunday’s, then I will need 4 chicken meals to insert for each Sunday. Therefore, I would select 4 of the ways I wrote down that I know how to make chicken.
You will repeat this step for each category you assign, for each day of the week.
If you cook every night, you would need 7 categories. Or, you could repeat categories. Just be sure to use different recipes so you don’t duplicate a dish in the month. However, I purpose to cook each meal for 2 nights, except for my free days. So my menu for August would look like this:
There you have it! Just like that, you have planned a dinner menu for one month without repeating a meal!
In The End
As simple as this is, I want to encourage you to leave room for flexibility. I may know what I am going to cook for the month, but if our taste buds change, and we want something else, we do make a switch.
Preparing a family menu has been a great blessing to us. And I hope with what’s been shared, cultivates variety and simplicity to your menu planning.
PS…Don’t forget to download your Meal Planning Guide from our FREE COMMUNITY LIBRARY or by filling out the form below.
Pin For Later
P.S. For those wondering where do I keep this stuff? I keep a binder in my kitchen that holds my menu preparation, blank family menus, and previous family menus. That way, everything is at my fingertips when I sit down to prepare menus for the month, or my grocery shopping list for the week.
~ Timberley Gray