MENU

Meal Planning: Planning More than One Week of Meals at a Time

Once you get into the habit of meal planning for the week, you may want to get a little more ambitious and plan for a longer length of time, like a fortnight (2 weeks) or a whole month.

How to Plan for a Month

1. Print a calendar – I like to print out a month calendar to fill in my meals. In this way I have right in front of me the placement of weekends, holidays, birthdays, etc. You can print out this Monthly Meal Grid or this Monthly Meal Planning Sheet.

2. Survey your freezer and pantry – I’ve been keeping a good record of my freezer inventory this month (more on that later this week), so I know what we already have. I plugged those into my calendar.

3. Plan some new meals based on current sales - I don’t know what will be on sale in the coming weeks, but I know what bargains are available now. So, I’m going to stock up on the proteins that I know I’ll want for my November meal plan. I’m also going to make a list of side dishes that I might want to keep my eyes open for in the sales.

4. Cook ahead if possible – One of the reasons that I’m planning the whole month is to save myself some time – planning time, shopping time, cooking time. One way to maximize on time savings is to cook ahead.

Since I’m also going to be doing some freezer cooking this week, I was able to place those meals on my calendar, incorporating the dozen meals I have left in my freezer with the new ones I’ll be adding.

Even if you don’t do a BIG cooking day, having a monthly meal plan will help you think how you can cook once and maybe eat three times from the same amount of work.

Our Monthly Meal Plan

While “the plan” is always subject to change, I have a road map for the week’s ahead. For November, my “plan” is as follows:

  1. Southwestern Grilled Chicken, Rice, Salad
  2. Pasta & Spaghetti Squash w/ Red Sauce, Foccaccia*, Green Salad
  3. Touchdown Chili, Cornbread, Veggies and Dip
  4. Chili Dogs on Homemade Buns, French Fries, Fruit Salad
  5. Beef Enchiladas, Beans, Rice, Green Salad
  6. Pizza and Chi-Chi’s Salad
  7. BBQ Sandwiches, Potato Salad, Veggies and Dip
  8. Grilled Tri-Tip, Baked Potatoes, Green Salad
  9. B-day Dinner! Sauerkraut and SpareRibs, Boiled Potatoes, Bday Cake
  10. Baked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Steamed Broccoli
  11. Carnitas Soft Tacos, Guacamole, Beans and Rice
  12. Taco Soup, Indian Shuck Bread, Green Salad
  13. Pizza and ChiChi’s Salad
  14. B-Day Dinner! Lasagna, Pasta w/ Sausages, Foccaccia, Green Salad
  15. Bernie’s Grilled Chicken, Grilled Veggies, Salad, Quick Seasoned Rice
  16. Roast Chicken, Garlic Potatoes, Green Beans
  17. Summer Rolls – no, it’s not summer – but these are easy and delicious!
  18. Tacos
  19. Beans and Rice
  20. Pizza and ChiChi’s Salad
  21. Pasta w/ Red Sauce, Green Salad, Garlic Bread
  22. Hamburgers on Homemade Buns and French Fries, Veggies and Dip
  23. Potstickers w/ Dipping Sauces, Rice, Broccoli
  24. BLTs, Potato Salad
  25. Pasta w/ Meat Sauce, Corn Muffins, Green Salad
  26. THANKSGIVING w/ the Grandparents
  27. at the G’parents
  28. at the G’parents
  29. Shredded Beef Enchiladas, Beans and Rice, Green Salad
  30. Chicken Stir-fry w/ Sauteed Rice Cakes (an experiment w/ Asian ingredients)

How about you?

What do you do? A month in advance? A week? A day? How do you meal plan?

For more meal-planning inspiration, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie every Monday for Menu Plan Monday.
* Recipes to follow

Would you rather subscribe by RSS?
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post

Comments

  1. That is what I did today too, with basketball EVERY Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, not to mention a birthday and Thanksgiving, I need to have it organized. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. It must be something about November I was thinking about doing a month meal plan also. I have most of it done, now just waiting to get some money in the bank to get groceries.

  3. I used to do meal planning for the whole month, but it was hard for me to know what my tastes would be like two or three weeks from now. I would always sabotage myself and think, "I could really go for some shrimp fried rice tonight…" even though I KNOW I'm supposed to make lasagna. LOL.

    I think your monthly meal plan sounds good – I'll just copy this and post it on my fridge. :)

  4. Your menu sounds yummy! I've only tried meal planning for two weeks at a time, but maybe I'll try a month and see how it goes. I love that you're having sauerkraut for a birthday dinner. I always have it for mine as well and the kids HAVE to eat it because it's my birthday! :)

  5. I used to meal plan more then I do now but I want to get back into it. Your menu is awesome! I am making a crock pot dish today to save for tomorrow I like Mondays to be easy, for some reason Mondays kill me :0)

  6. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    If I planned more than a week in advance, I'd never stick to it. I'm always coming up with something new I want to try. I usually only plan 3-4 meals per week to account for leftovers or when random inspiration strikes. I do keep a seperate list of stuff I want to make "sometime," so when I'm having a hard time with our menu I can go to that for some inspiration.

  7. Tara, since so many of the recipes are linked, you probably could just print all this and eat like us all month. Freaky! ;)

    SJL, that's my 8yo's bday and he actually requested that for the meal! My husband doesn't like it, so he'll be eating leftovers. But, that is 8yo's favorite! Hubby is good with it, thankfully.

  8. Lisa @ Simply Things Family says:

    I do a monthly menu (actually need to put November's together). I do it based on what the family wants. However, I am flexible and adjust based on sales and coupons. Thanks for the great post!

  9. Those are great tips and they must work because your menu looks delicious:-)

  10. I try to plan 2 weeks at a time since that is the pay cycle. I'm not good at holding on to money for the whole 2 weeks, so I try to buy everything at once or we may not be left with many to buy food in week 2.

  11. Bloggin' Mama says:

    I plan 2 weeks at a time and only do our big shopping (typically 3 stores) every other week – unless there's a deal I just can't pass up in the mean time. When planning my meals I write them in the family planner so they are based around schedules, activities, etc. However, I am participating in the baking days this week so I'll have a little more flexibility since my husband is deploying soon and I know my grocery shopping trips may have to be altered.

  12. Hoosier Homemade says:

    I always plan my meals for the whole month. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have a plan.
    I see you have 2 bdays this month, we have 3 and 2 of them are close to yours, the 10th and 14th. Funny…
    ~Liz

  13. Lucky Larson's says:

    I have a menu planned, but I often find myself wanting something on Tuesday planned for Saturday–or Sunday was more crazy than I thought–so we eat Thursday meal–so what I do is cook all the meat. I have hamburger, ham chunks (and slices), sausage, and chicken (cubed, shredded, and whole) all precooked–making dinner in 1/3 of the time!

  14. I hear ya on the wanting to be flexible thing. I'm thinking that my creativity may sprout for lunches. But, already one of these nights is getting bumped by FishPapa's desire for homemade egg rolls. He gets these ideas…..

  15. You have such a variety of meals in there! I do seasonal meal planning for a broad 'hey it's fall I love these fall meals' kind of thing and I do weekly for the what is really in the house/needs to be used/holidays/what have you aspect of meal planning. I only cook for 1 so I always have loads of leftovers!

  16. What a great menu plan! I started monthly planning recently too – and I love it! It gives me a good plan, but flexibility too!

    ps I didn't know you did MPM!! (a little birdie told me) So I linked this post to mine!

  17. TheRoosterChick says:

    Oooo, I see quite a few dishes I'd like to borrow from your trusty little list here thank you very much. lol

  18. I was inspired and planned until Nov 28th. I made a list of things in the freezer, a list of things I could make easily or with ingredients I have on hand and then asked hubby for ideas. Waa-laa! 28 days planned, no repeats! Thank you! And I don't even need a lot from the store. Good timing with Christmas shopping coming up.

  19. Mama Laundry says:

    FishMama,

    What is the dish in the picture at the top of the post? Did you mention it and I just missed it?

    Looks oh so yummy!

    If you have the recipe, I'd love you to point me in the direction of that too…

    :)
    Thanks!

  20. Undeserving says:

    Love the inspiration! I currently only plan out one week at a time. I'd love to do more, especially since I think it would be a time-saver to go through all four weeks at once while I'm on a roll instead of jumping into gear each week to plan.

    However, I'm really struggling with how to fit in such a long-term plan when I really rely on what's on sale in a given week to meet our eating and budget needs. Any helpful tips?

  21. Katrina in Wa. says:

    Ok- the picture you have up there looks soooo yummy. Which is it? I am hoping it is one of the recipes you linked!

  22. Love this post!!! Wanted to let you know that I've linked to it from my blog @ http://myreasonstoblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/this-n-that-thursday.html
    Hope you're having a great weekend!!

  23. I love planning my menu by the month!!! Two good tips. When you write down the recipes, put what pg number they are on and what book they are in. Also, on the back of the calendar, write down the grocery list for each week. It saves soooo much time and then you only have to glance at the back to figure what ingredients you have on hand and what you need to buy for the week.

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts

*