Meal Planning

Meal Plans:

Each month, I'll be posting my month plans here in this space. I'll have each blog post for the month posted below:

Our Meal Planning Method

Meal Planning has been a huge help in the management of our home. As we worked to have a more tight, well-balance budget, we decided that we'd start planning for a month of meals and shopping for a month at a time for everything except fruit, veggies, and milk which we purchase twice a month. This has helped us in not buying any extra, unnecessary items which we always tended to do when we "ran to the store." We used to buy eggs twice a month as well but now that we have 25 chickens, we don't need to. :)

How is that possible? 
We bought an extra freezer to put meat and frozen foods in as well as we have created a food pantry to hold all the canned and boxed goods as well as an extra bottle of every oil, vinegar and sauce we use so that we have a back up. We like to be prepared, what can I say :-)
There was an upfront purchase of the freezer and shelving unit but it was worth it to us.
So since January 2013, I've been making a monthly calendar for our meals and now 2 years later, I have 2-3 potential calendars to work off of each month.

How do I plan and where do I get my recipes?
To create my meal plan, I start with a plain calendar for the month. (I have created a plain calendar that you can download here. I change the fill color each month and then change the Month date and the numbers on the calendar.)

I then start my search for recipes alternating chicken, pork and beef each day. (We must have meat at dinner to make my husband happy :-)) I look through my Recipe's boards on Pinterest to see what sounds good, search the pinterest Food section, look through my cookbooks and ask Max what sounds good to him. 

I know there are some out there who plan Pasta on Monday, Mexican on Tuesday, Chicken on Wednesday, etc. I think this is an awesome plan to follow and if that would work great for you, head to Raising Up Rubies because she has a great plan that she follows for planning a whole year at one time.

I don't work this way because I like to cook what sounds good at the time so planning a month at a time works for me. Due to our budget and the fact that we have little kids, we don't go out to eat much at all so most of our days are planned out except Sundays we go to my dad's house every week for dinner. Now, once this plan is made, it is not set in stone! I use it as my guide and EVERY month, things shift, plans change and this is OK. The point is to have a guide for you to work within. You may get invited somewhere for dinner...go and move that meal back onto the list. 

Each week I sit down with my planner and weekly meal calendar and place meals into place based on our schedule and the weather...yes I said weather. In Southern California, our weather can be anywhere from low 60's to high 90's throughout 80 percent of the year so I take advantage of cool days when we have them for "cozy" foods and warm days for grilling. It's just how my mind works :-). We also adjust our menu based on the fresh foods coming in from the garden during the week and what needs to get used before it goes bad. I don't like to waste food!

The benefit of Meal Planning for the month even if you don't shop for the month.
I know that not everyone can shop a month at a time but I think meal planning for the month is a great way to do a job once and not 4 times in a month. Planning for a month of meals gives has helped me not feel so overwhelmed. When I have the month planned out, I can quickly and easily go to my menu and grab meals that sound good for the week and my weekly plan is set in just a few minutes. Meal planning for the month takes a little time (maybe 30-45 minutes) at one time rather than 30 minutes each week. I see it as a time saver.

How to create a Master Grocery List?
Because we shop a month at a time for ALL things that we will need for the month, I've created a Master Grocery list. Again, this took a little forethought but only had to be done once. Here's how I did it.
  1. We have the same "path" we take at Walmart each month we go. So I walked the store, with a clipboard of paper and pen, with my only plan (goal?) being to write down the isle numbers (did you know every big grocery; Target, Walmart, Ralphs, etc has isle numbers for each one??) and then wrote out everything that we might possibly purchase from that isle at any given time.
  2. Once I was finished with my path, I came home and typed up my Master List using bullets for each item shaped like a box so that we can just check the box.
  3. Then each month, we print out our list and hang it inside our pantry door and mark off what we need as it comes to us. Then after I've meal planned the few days before shopping, I go through and mark everything that we need for that month. Any extra things that don't have a spot go near the area, or isle that the item would be found. Make sense? 
Tip: I always shop with my list on a clipboard! It has been the biggest help for me in this whole process. I use a Command Picture Hanging Strips to attach the clipboard to my pantry door. It is like Velcro and I can take it off and put it back as much as I want!(
Since the first time I did this, our list has changed based on our family needs. At one time, we needed formula and diapers each time we went. Now we don't need those things, so I've edited the list.
Here is a google doc of the list for you to go from if you would like. 

Here are pictures of how we mark our list and my little grocery helper :)

I hope this helps you in managing your home and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below or send me an email. I'd love to help make this work for you!

Happy Meal Planning!!


  1. Wow, Samantha, you are so organized. That is a great tip for using the command strip/clipboard and taking the clipboard to the grocery store. This gives me many great ideas to work into my own routine. Cecilia

    1. Thanks Cecilia God has blessed me with a gift of organization and I wanted to share it with others! I'm glad it's given you some ideas!

  2. ooo Can you send me the Document! I want to try this list and clipboard idea! I buy bulk once a month and then small amounts of produce everyweek or so.



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