How to Plan a Monthly Menu That Works For YOU

{Bonus Download: 60 Dinner Ideas to spark your planning}

Does it seem like you are always at the grocery store? Do you find yourself ordering out because it’s 5:00 and you can’t think of anything to make for dinner? Would you like to save time, frustration, and money? A monthly menu plan could be exactly what you need.

It’s really not hard to accomplish — even if you’re not usually the “planning” type. I hear so many people say, “I could never come up with a month’s worth of meals.” Trust me, you can! If you change your mindset a little bit and take it step by step, you will find yourself being a monthly menu planner in no time.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Instead, think of a monthly menu plan as a list of meals you COULD make. You just need to make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. If you have basic ingredients and a good reserve of recipes, you can totally have a home-cooked almost every night AND stay out of the grocery stores.

No time to read the entire post? >> CLICK HERE to Pin for later! <<

 This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can see my disclaimer here.

Planning the Dinner Menu

  • Do a freezer and pantry inventory. Get rid of any old food while you’re at it. You want to use what you have on hand first and think of your shopping trip as restocking.
  • Have your favorite store ad handy. This way you won’t plan five meals using ground beef that ends up being $6/pound when you get to the store. Instead, plan meals around what basic items your family will eat that you can get for the best price.
  • Get a blank sheet of paper or computer document and number it from 1-30. I make my list on the computer so I can sort, link to recipes, and copy from one month to the next. 
  • Write down the meals you like to make. 
  • Next, write down what meals your family likes.
  • Remember, it’s okay to make a dinner more than once during the month. Some months we have nachos or tacos every week.
  • Get out your activity calendar for the month.
  • It’s not necessary to plan meals for certain days. But it’s a good idea to count how many “easy” or “crockpot” meals you will need for the month. For example, if I am looking at planning for April, I know that I will need 8 crockpot or super-fast meals because I don’t get home until at least 6:15 p.m. twice a week.
  • Fill in the remaining meals. Check your recipe files and cookbooks. Search Pinterest or your favorite cooking sites. Print out or save links to any new recipes you will need for the month. Be realistic. If you don’t usually cook complicated dinners, don’t put them on your menu. I like to try a few new recipes most months, but the majority of my menu is usually old favorites.
  • Figure out your side dishes. Sometimes this is more difficult than planning the main dish. 😉 I have some standard go-to sides that are always a hit with the family, and I’m sure you do also. You could make a separate list of side dishes for when you run out of ideas.

How to Plan a Monthly Menu That Works For YOU | | {Bonus Download: 60 Dinner Ideas} Would you like to save time, frustration, and money? A monthly menu plan could work for you. Click here to learn how.

Stuck for ideas? Click get a printable PDF list of 60 dinner ideas with clickable recipe links.

What Else?

Write down what your family eats for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Make a separate menu if you need to, but don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. You know what you buy for a week. Simply multiply that by 4 to have enough for a month.

Think it's too hard to plan meals for an ENTIRE month? Nope! Read how to make it easy! #menuplan Click To Tweet

Making It Work

At the beginning of each week, plug meals and side dishes into the appropriate days on your calendar. Remember to use your more perishable fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the month. I usually have good luck keeping romaine lettuce and kale good for a couple of weeks, longer if I prep it, dry it, and store in a bag with paper towels. Keep frozen vegetables on hand for later in the month.

Related post: Quick Food Prep Routine for a Week of Easier Meals

Be flexible. These meals are not set in stone just because you wrote it on a piece of paper. If you find yourself with a few days of leftovers in the fridge, then it’s Easy Meal Night a.k.a. Leftover Night.

I have found menu planning and shopping for a month at a time to be a wonderful thing! I always have food on hand, and usually some ideas of what to do with it. With a master list of meals and a more detailed list for a few days at a time, cooking meals can be something that’s sort of done on autopilot, rather than a stressful mind-sucking chore at the end of every day. Plus, spending less time at the grocery store every week means I spend much less money each month!

Let me know in the comments how this works for you or if you have any questions.

Next week I will be posting about how to do only one main grocery shop each month.

 Did you enjoy this post? Please take a moment to save on Pinterest or your favorite social media… thank you!

Save time, frustration, and money! Click through to learn how to easily create a monthly meal plan that works for you. {Bonus Download: 60 Dinner Ideas} |

Save time, frustration, and money! Click through to learn how to easily create a monthly meal plan that works for you. {Bonus Download: 60 Dinner Ideas} |

Grab Your FREE Printable Dinner Idea Collection

Sign up here to receive your printable Monthly Dinner Idea Collection -- a list of dinner ideas for the ENTIRE YEAR with many clickable recipe links.

Choosing to join the Filling the Jars email list means you will receive regular emails with tips and recommendations to help you on your journey to Build Your Best Life.

Filling the Jars Privacy Policy

We hate spam and promise to keep your email address safe. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

6 thoughts on “How to Plan a Monthly Menu That Works For YOU”

  1. heathermoore30

    Great ideas! As a mother with a large family, if I fail to plan, things can be chaotic in my home! Can’t wait to start meal planning. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Some really good ideas here. I used to live in a situation where I could only shop every 3 months and we did fine. I now live next door to a supermarket and I am not so organized and tend to shop when I want things. This is not really a good way to do it. It is a bit more relaxed when it is only the two of us now.

  3. I love this! I’m gonna share it. I plan out my meals to a budget as well and we save so much money.This is a great guide to those who are ready to start making their lives easier!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top