Skip to Content

Monthly Meal Planning: A Smart Way to Save Time and Money

Monthly Meal Planning: A Smart Way to Save Time and Money

Monthly meal planning can be a lifesaver for busy parents, especially parents with multiple children.

Working or stay-at-home moms can both use this method to save time and money and devote more of their day to family fun or self-care.

It requires organization skills and time for preparation, but it’s a sure way to unburden the daily life off planning, grocery shopping and ultimately cooking.

Your Monthly Meal Planner Requires:

  • A calendar
  • a pen
  • an insight into the monthly budget

Alternatively, you could also use a meal planner app.

Print Out a Free Calendar

meal prep

You may easily find free printable calendars online to serve as an empty canvas for your monthly meal plan.

Plan in advance to cover daily meals, the days you could eat leftovers, as well as special occasions and eating out.

Set the optimal amount you want to spend on food for the month and try to stick to it.

Or Download a Free App

There’s a whole collection of free food planning apps to choose from, some of which are even specialized in planning a healthy diet, weight loss, and so on.

The advantage of the monthly planner app compared to the traditional calendar is that you don’t have to write anything down and you may always carry your planner with you.

Mealime is the ultimate free meal-planning app, though there are others such as Platejoy and BigOven, both of which offer free trials.

Meal Planning Tips & Tricks

Though it sounds like a simple and straightforward practice, it may prove to be a little challenging at times. 

Especially for children, if they’re used to the family eating what they crave for the day.

However, if you push through, not only will your family get used to it, but you’ll save money and have more time to spend with them.

Include Everyone’s Favorite Foods

Not to go full Gestapo on your family with your monthly meal plan, make sure to include the foods everyone likes.

Reserve certain days for your family’s favorite treats. This will make it easier to reach a compromise.

If your children are craving pizza today, and you don’t have the immediate ingredients, simply show them that according to the plan, they’ll have pizza in a few days.

This way, your monthly planner can also work as an educational tool, as it teaches children to compromise and be patient.

Make a Three Month Plan and Recycle It

You don’t have to plan 365 days in advance. Create a meal plan for three months, and at the end of the third month go back to the first.

That way, neither you nor your family will get fed up with eating the same food over and over again in a short span of time.

Try to Stay Consistent, But a Little Flexibility Is Allowed

If your plan for the day includes a quick bland meal, but in the meantime occasion arises to treat yourself and your family to something nicer – switch things up.

Say, your child won an award at school so you want to celebrate, don’t let the plan hold you back.

Or, in case you realize you have ingredients in your pantry which are about to go bad, it’s a good idea to use them up to avoid food waste.

However, reserve flexibility for special occasions and don’t give in to it at every whim.

Grocery Shop According to the Plan

A huge advantage of planning your meals weeks or months ahead is that you may know exactly which groceries you need.

You don’t have to run into the store and bulk buy random ingredients you may or may not use before they expire.

You’ll know exactly what to buy and how much, and get your money’s worth since you’re most likely to use up all of it.

At the same time, you’re more likely to find the discount prices when you know exactly what you need to buy.

Check What You Have at Home Before Buying More

One side of the monthly meal plan includes keeping track of your food storage.

That way, you won’t buy another carton of milk if you already have some of it stored. Find ways to use what you already have before spending more money.

Meal-Prep Every Now and Again

Cooking in advance and freezing food is a great way to save time in the future.

Though you’ll have to sacrifice an evening to stay home and cook, you’ll have the luxury to prance into your kitchen after work and have a lavish home-cooked meal ready in no time.

Frozen food keeps its nutritional value and taste, and allows you to save time while losing nothing.

Revisit Your Monthly Plan for Updates

We live busy lives nowadays. You won’t always be able to predict your schedule a week in advance, much less a whole month or more.

So, make sure to add necessary updates for the days your family has plans away from home, such as play dates, trips, and other activities.

Spice It Up

Can meal planning even be fun?

I think so. One way to make this useful practice fun is to organize themed dinners.

For example, if the family plans to watch a movie in the evening, make your food match its theme with food coloring and fun shapes.

Repeat Beloved Recipes

You may feel the urge to be original with each daily meal, though it’s okay to eat the same dish twice this week if it’s nutritious and loved by your family.