In February of 2016 I started seriously monthly meal planning and I stuck with it so well for quite some time. But then late this fall I found myself back in that same rut of cooking the same things over and over again and making frequent trips to the grocery store mid week. I knew I had to get back at the meal plan. Come the first week of January I quickly got organized and quickly got back into my meal plans and I can't tell you how much stress they remove from my life. If you'd like to give it a try I am going to outline my process and give you a few tips that I have found help my planning. So basically keep reading.
First and foremost look at your weekly schedule and see what types of meals will fit into that schedule. For us we don't get home until later on Tuesday and Thursday evenings due to gymnastics so this is reflected on my meal plans with crock pot meals or super quick meals that I can do the bulk of the prep for the night before. I will point out that I only meal plan Monday through Friday nights basically because, I do my weekly grocery shopping on Saturday's so this is the evening I typically try out new recipes, plus we go out on Saturday night some. Then Sunday's are kind of a simple supper, leftovers kind of nights.
Second you need to decide if you are going to do weekly or monthly plans. I do monthly mainly because then I only have to think about it once per month. I lay out my calendar mark out any special dates I have planned, for instance Charlot's birthday dinner out. I then break it down by the week on a piece of notebook paper and write out what the meal will be. I have found this helps with not having chicken 4 nights of the week. I try for one night of each meat product, beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, turkey. Now there are some repeats but this allow for variety in our meals. Get some help with this step ask your kiddos to plan a night of what they want, asks the hubs for ideas (mine actually is pretty helpful in this area if I ask plenty in advance).
Next once your plan is laid out it is critical to make a very detailed grocery list, typically I just go through the meal plan and write everything I am going to need for the entire month, including totals like 4 cans of green beans. Once this list is complete I take an inventory of what I already have at home and cross of the list what I can. Now this might be the crazy part for me but it helps I swear. I rewrite this list by department, produce, meat, frozen, dairy, canned goods, dry goods.
From the list it is time to hit the store, now since I do monthly meal plans I do one big shop day for all that I can for the month, then each week I only have to shop for the fresh produce. I shop as much as possible at Aldi I just save a ton of money there, then I head to Walmart and my local grocery store for the rest.
Once it is all at home and unpacked (the worst part), it's time to start taking that plan into action. Stick the plan on your fridge so it is easily reference. I typically get two nights worth of meat out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge so it is ready to go when I am ready to cook.
This plan has made such a difference in our lives I seriously am a better Momma because of it!
Please let me know if this helps you and any suggestions you have or what works for you! I will take a picture of my actual meal plan and post it when I get home.
Have a great day!