All over the internet, you will find posts about meal planning. Meal planning, mason jar salads, and one-pot recipes — they are all the rage. They aren’t really that knew. I mean, they’ve been around for the last few years and have somehow stood the test of time (slightly dramatic I know – but true!). Everyone seems to love them! Everyone is all about planning their weekly meals & prepping all of their food for fast and easy (&& delicious) eating during their crazy, busy weeks. It sounds like such a great idea — but for some reason, I have just not been able to jump up on that bandwagon. I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t been able to catch on or get the hang of how to properly plan, but I’m thinking that it might actually have to do with the fact that most people suggest planning for a week, and while that sounds doable, for me – it sounds exhausting. The idea of planning all of my meals and then prepping them all during one nightly cooking party actually sounds like so much work and I am already exhausted. I understand the appeal, I do!! BUT for me and my current season of life, having to do this EVERY week is just not going to happen. Same goes for the – I don’t even know how many – hours it would take to prep 5-7 Dinners, lunches, breakfasts and snacks all in one evening.
Instead, we decided that planning meals for a whole month was a little bit more realistic for us. I know I know, A MONTH?? Lady, a month is even longer than a week. That means more food to prep and make!! I know but hear me out. This plan would save on grocery store trips (other than restocking the basics: milk, bread etc); we wouldn’t need to plan for lunches – because we actually really enjoy leftovers, and so we just needed to allow for that during the planning & cooking; and, we don’t need to spend a gazillion hours prepping and cooking meals all at once – because we will do all of the meal prep and cooking for each meal on the first day that we eat that meal.
So, here is our general monthly plan
- Choose our meals & determine the number of times we want to eat each meal throughout the month
- Create the grocery list (include enough for All meals)
- Cook each meal + its additional meals for the freezer.
* repeat this step every night until you have made each meal and have at least 2-3+ of each in the freezer for future meals throughout the month.
This plan saves so much time because you simply have to double or triple the recipe that you are following to make enough for that evening’s dinner + the freezer meals. No more spending hours and hours in the kitchen all at once to prepare future meals for your family. This can easily be done alone without stress. Put on a podcast or some music & pour yourself a glass of wine/a beer or whatever your drink of choice may be and get cooking:)
Our Plan for This Month (March 15th – April 15th)
1. Meals for the next month & quantities
We will be eating (mainly) only these meals and so we like to choose a variety. We usually pick about 8-10 of our favourites and plan to eat these through the weeks.
Meals for this month:
– Spaghetti x3 (Check out the Recipe here)
– Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato soup x3
– Chicken Alfredo Pasta x3
– Veggie & Sausage Sheet pan x4
– Veggie & Chicken Stirfy x4
– Broccoli & Chicken Mac n Cheese x3 (Check out the Recipe here)
– Veggie Pasta x3
– Pancakes **
– Cabbage with Rice & Salmon Croquets **
** We will just make these meals on the nights that we want this for dinner but will not likely freeze any for future. While the pancakes can totally be frozen and thawed for future meals, the cabbage/rice/salmon meal does not freeze well. That being said we do still enjoy cooking – so we wanted to allow for some nights of simply cooking whatever we wanted or pre-planned meals vs pulling a bag out the freezer and throwing it in the oven/crockpot or wherever.
You will notice that the total number of meals is only 23 with the 2 additional meals for whenever we feel like cooking. With the beginning of April being Easter, we made sure to take into account our vacation time and any meals that we wouldn’t be eating at home. That being said, there are still some meals left in our freezer from last month because there were several days that we did not eat at home that were not planned. BONUS!!
2. Grocery List
When determining what our meals will be I find it way less stressful if we just list out some of our favourite meals first before even thinking about ingredients needed. Once we have a larger overall list (you can even make a master list of these meals for quicker planning- COMING SOON) we will then determine what we want to eat and this will often be based on what meals share similar ingredients. It makes shopping easier (and cheaper) when I can buy in bulk.
During this stage, I also like to break down how many meals each item will be used for so that I can more easily determine the quantity of each item that is needed.
Example: 2 different meals will be using Alfredo Sauce and I plan to make at least 2 additional freezer meals for each. That means that I need to buy enough Alfredo Sauce for 6 meals.
** Some amounts for ingredients did change once we went shopping due to what was available at the store.
** You can get whatever brands and types of ingredients that your family prefers (whole wheat/organic etc). These differences will affect the final cost
Ingredients for this month (including amounts)
– Ground Beef ( 1 lrg pack)
– Chicken Breasts (6)
– Sausage (2-3 packs of 5)
– Bell Peppers (3 variety packs)
– Mushrooms (approx. 1.5 lbs)
– Carrots (1 lrg pack)
– Celery (1 lrg pack)
*you won’t need as large of a bag for both the celery and carrots as you see in the photo – for the meals and amounts I listed in Step #1, but my hubs likes to snack on carrots and so that was an extra bonus.
– Zucchini (6 mm)
– Tomatoes (approx 30 individual sm/mm)
– Broccoli (3 mm/lrg bunches)
– Brussel Sprouts (1/2 lbs)
– Sweet Potatoes (2 lrg)
– yellow Onions (
– Potatoes (one lrg back)
Noodles & Canned Goods etc.
– Spaghetti Noodles (1 lrg pack)
– Penne Noodles (2 lrg packs)
– Macaroni Noodles (2 lrg packs)
– Alfredo Sauce (6 mm jars)
– Tomato sauce (1 lrg jug or 4 mm cans)
– Crushed Tomatoes (2 lrg cans)
– Veggie Broth (1 carton)
– Milk (4L)
– Cheese (1-2 lrg blocks)
3. Cook each meal
Now for the fun part — the actual cooking!!
You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to prep and cook these meals, simply make the meal you want for dinner each night and just make extra. Your shopping list and ingredients will already allow for this and you will actually save money by not having to run to the grocery store every few days to pick up new ingredients (minus, of course, your families basics – milk, bread, snacks…etc)
I will do more posts for each recipe that we make and the break down of ingredients for each meal. All recipes will be attached to this post so that you can follow along for this series.
Let me know what you think? Was this helpful?
Would you be interested in a few simple templates to help make this planning process and grocery shopping easier?
Also, I would love to hear from you about some of your families favourite meals. We are always looking to add to our list of meal options 🙂