My First Monthly Meal Plan Recap

mealplanOk so we have just finished our 5 day series on Monthly Meal Planning. Thanks Mary Jenny sooo much for all the tips. If you missed it, go here to see all 5 posts.  I wanted to recap my experience with it.

I was super nervous. Not gonna lie. I’ve been doing weekly meal plans for years but the idea of stretching to a month seemed impossible to me. But lately we have been making TONS of trips to the grocery store (like 3 a week) just to pick up random stuff and I was getting tired of it. I decided to try this out.  This is my first time so I will keep a tight watch on how it goes for the rest of October and report back in.  So let’s recap what I have done so far.

  1.  I started by making my Monthly Staples list. I worked on this all week. I just kept it on my fridge and added as I thought of things. Then I just estimated what we would eat per month of each item.  So for example, we typically go through 2 boxes of cereal a week. I wrote down we would need at least 4 boxes of the two kinds we like for the month. I know we go through at least 1 small peanut butter every 1-2 weeks so I figured 2 huge jars would be plenty for the month. I wrote that down on my monthly staples list (see this post in series for a template for that).  I included the things I put in the kids’ lunches and our typical breakfasts and snacks as staples.
  2. Then I went ahead and planned my meals for the month (see this post in series for this template as well). I picked out recipes based on our busy days etc. Don’t forget we have this 30 meals in 30 minutes document.  So I plugged in all my meals for the month.
  3. I then took the grocery list (see this post in series for that template) and plugged in what I would need to make all my dinner recipes. Then I looked at that staples list and plugged in everything that was not in my pantry that we needed for the month (ie we only had 1 half empty jar of PB left so I went ahead decided we needed the 2 new ones for the month).  I also plugged in any types of baking I wanted to do- making sure we had stuff for our typical PB bites and bars, breakfast pizzas, blueberry breads etc.
  4. I joined a friend at Costco to check it out.  I LOVED IT.  I am almost 100% sure I am going to save money here.  Example:  we buy Honey Bunches of Oats cereal. It is 3.50/box at Giant. I got 3 huge boxes of it for $6.00 at Costco.  SAVED. Same for almond milk, apples, bread, bagels etc.I came home and crammed it all in my fridge.  I put a lot in my freezer – chicken, turkey, veggies. I also put bread in there. And yogurt. I bought a huge thing of yogurt tubes so I just stored in fridge.
  5. I still created a weekly meal list so I could put in lunches and breakfast and snacks for kids. So right now hanging in my kitchen is my monthly meal plan, weekly snap shot, and then a place where I can write down what I need to add to my monthly staples (so I can keep learning what we are using) and a place to write down what I need to buy in between trips.

My hope is that I am going to:

  1.  Only have to make 1 small trip each week to get maybe bananas, milk….or something random but very small, very quick, and under $50 (aiming for more like $30)
  2. Go to Costco one time a month to get monthly meals and larger quantities of staple items. So at end of October, I will take back out the master pantry list, check off and see what is low, stock back up + buy meals for November and start again.
  3. Jacob and I spent time looking at our budget and we think we may be able to save close to $300/month doing this. How awesome would that be (that does not factor in the $110 I spent on membership).  If we factored that in we still think we’d be around $280/$290.  I’ll see for sure in November when I start on Nov 1 b/c this month I started a week late.

So at end of October I will report:

  1.  If I was able to spend $50 or less each week on produce and perishables.
  2. If I made it to end of October using only my main staples.

Final note:

Mary Jenny mentioned this but I want to be sure yall remember: SAVE YOUR MONTHLY MEAL PLANS. It wouldn’t be terrible to pull it out a month or two or six later and use it again one month!

ok savers! I’m excited!!!  What kind of new stuff can I buy with $300 😉

 

Pics below show the monthly staples, then the month of dinners, shopping list, and the week snap shot!

month monthmeals listweek

 

Monthly Meal Planning – Day 5

mealplan

This month we are focusing on how to plan and prepare for a month of food for your family!  If the thought of a month of planning seems daunting – hang with me for the next couple of days and let’s work together!  Our guest blogger, Mary, has done an excellent job at breaking down the task for us.  I can’t wait to learn from her valuable experience and talent!! I’ve included some great printables to help keep you together and organized and to make this as easy as possible.  What do ya say? Let’s do this!!

Day Five

Let’s shop!  Time to take your list to the grocery store!

When you get home, plan to spend a little time preportioning meat and other foods to freeze for later in the month.

Another variation on this plan is to shop 2 weeks at a time.  Prepare all of your meal plan and lists at the beginning of the month.  Then shop for 2 weeks at a time… or if you only have room 1 week at a time!  The best part is, you will already have spent the time and energy to plan on how to have healthy meals on hand.  Check out this quick video Laura shares on what meal prep looks like for the busy mom!

If you’ve never planned for a month, start with a week, then gradually add on.  Just make it work for you! Once you’ve taken the time to plan for the month, don’t throw them away when you’re done.  Use it as a guide the next month.  A year from now that September plan may be useful again, too!


Monthly Meal Planning – Day 4

mealplan

This month we are focusing on how to plan and prepare for a month of food for your family!  If the thought of a month of planning seems daunting – hang with me for the next couple of days and let’s work together!  Our guest blogger, Mary, has done an excellent job at breaking down the task for us.  I can’t wait to learn from her valuable experience and talent!! I’ve included some great printables to help keep you together and organized and to make this as easy as possible.  What do ya say? Let’s do this!!

Day Four

Now it’s time to make your big list. Here is a big monthly grocery list that you can use to make your master shopping list! monthlygrocerystorelist

Consolidate all the lists you’ve made:

  • items needed for breakfast
  • items needed for lunch
  • items needed for snacks
  • items needed for dinner
  • items needed for the pantry

For anything that will last, try to estimate what you need for the month. Dry goods will last a month.  Don’t forget to look at any recipes you’re planning to make and include those. I buy almost all the meat for the month, but plan for time to freeze it in portions for dinner once you buy it.  As for anything perishable, I buy those in 7-10 day increments.  Perishables may seem like a lot of your list but keep in mind, you can freeze a lot.  Take into consideration your refrigerator, cabinet, and freezer space.

The list will be big, so do your best to organize it based on the grocery store layout, fruits and veggies, meat, dairy, etc.  It will save you time. Don’t feel you have to eat exactly what’s on the list.  We switch things up all the time.  What you have done, though, is put enough in frig to have something to eat and with a monthly list of dinner ideas you can quickly switch something out.  On my calendar, I circle anything we didn’t eat, so I know I have that available as an alternative or I roll it into the next month.


Monthly Meal Planning – Day 3

mealplan

This month we are focusing on how to plan and prepare for a month of food for your family!  If the thought of a month of planning seems daunting – hang with me for the next couple of days and let’s work together!  Our guest blogger, Mary, has done an excellent job at breaking down the task for us.  I can’t wait to learn from her valuable experience and talent!! I’ve included some great printables to help keep you together and organized and to make this as easy as possible.  What do ya say? Let’s do this!!

Day Three

Ok, so far we’ve tackled getting breakfast, lunch, and snack time lists together.

We’ve also got a list of our family dinners we will need for the month!

Now it’s time to check your pantry!

In your printout from Day 1 (StaplesList-editableWORD & StaplesList) let’s look at the Pantry Basics list.  These are items you always like to have on hand.  It may be peanut butter and jelly for a quick sandwich or ingredients to throw together a quick trail mix, for example.  Check your pantry to see what you already have.  Compare this to your pantry basics list and take note of the items you need to buy!

Also, you need to know approximately how much it takes to feed your family, especially with meat since over buying that can get pricey quick.  The list may seem lengthy but remember you’re buying for the month, so a lot of it will be used over the next few weeks.


Monthly Meal Planning – Day 2

mealplan

This month we are focusing on how to plan and prepare for a month of food for your family!  If the thought of a month of planning seems daunting – hang with me for the next couple of days and let’s work together!  Our guest blogger, Mary, has done an excellent job at breaking down the task for us.  I can’t wait to learn from her valuable experience and talent!! I’ve included some great printables to help keep you together and organized and to make this as easy as possible.  What do ya say? Let’s do this!!

Day Two

Now it’s time to tackle dinner.  I have a list of dinner recipes we use regularly and then I try to pick out one or two new recipes for the month.

At this point I find it’s helpful to have two copies of a monthly calendar–one to plan with and a cleaned up version to post on the refrigerator or wherever.

Here is a monthly calendar to help you plan!

BlankCalendar

I start by listing anything on the calendar that might interfere with dinner–work trips, date night, school events, sports, etc.  After that I plug in dinner options.  Make sure to include sides.

 


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Monthly Meal Planning – Day 1

mealplan

 

This month we are focusing on how to plan and prepare for a month of food for your family!  If the thought of a month of planning seems daunting – hang with me for the next couple of days and let’s work together!  Our guest blogger, Mary, has done an excellent job at breaking down the task for us.  I can’t wait to learn from her valuable experience and talent!! I’ve included some great printables to help keep you together and organized and to make this as easy as possible.  What do ya say? Let’s do this!!

Day One

Make a breakfast, lunch, snack and pantry basics list.

Here are some printables for you – you can download and print the pdf to work on paper or use the Word document to work online!

StaplesList-editableWORD

StaplesList

Include what the the kids eat. Keep these lists! Add to them/delete from them over the months. These become regular staples.  Lunch will probably vary the most since you’ll switch out lunch choices.  My kids eat pretty similarly every month, though.  For anything that involves a recipe, make a list of those ingredients and hold onto it until you make your final list.


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