How to Meal Plan for a Month

By Emily Carver, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student

The idea of meal planning sounds wonderful. Who wouldn’t want all their meals mapped out each and every week, freeing them up from unnecessary stress and hearing the dreaded question, “what’s for dinner?” However, getting over feeling lost and overwhelmed with where to begin can often cripple the best of cooks. A week’s worth of meals planned out can seem daunting enough to create, but is it even possible to consider an entire month’s worth? Is it less stressful to create a month of meals rather than a week of meals?

That’s what Jossie Schauerhamer, a wife and mother of two, who runs a successful business from home believes. She’s successfully created her family’s month-long meal plans for the past year and found it less time-consuming and stressful when she switched from weekly meal planning to monthly.


When asked to elaborate Jossie stated she found setting time aside every single week to create a new meal plan time consuming, overwhelming, and the one thing she hated most of all. This led her to slack off which led to the family eating out just as they did before she started meal planning.


Perhaps you can relate.


Many people who start meal planning have the best of intentions for themselves and their families. They want to eat out less, save money, and cook more wholesome meals, yet quit after a couple weeks because it becomes too much to handle.


Jossie said the moment she switched to her monthly system everything changed. Perhaps it’ll have the same effect for you. Her system is quite easy to follow and it’s organized. What’s best of all is it can be tailored to every family’s schedule.


Print a calendar. Once that month has been printed, Jossie looks over her family’s commitments to determine how much time she’ll have to cook. From there, she plans for 3-4 meals a week, while the leftovers take up another 2-3 days of meals. One night a week is left for a fun family night out. On average this takes her fifteen minutes.


Grab a binder and print those recipes. In a world where Pinterest reigns supreme for recipe ideas, it can sound foreign to suggest printing out a recipe and putting it in a binder, but that’s just what Jossie recommends. Though she uses the internet for recipe ideas, she relies more on the meals she knows her family loves, and makes sure they’re printed in her binder for quick and easy access.


The internet can often be the reason so many feel overwhelmed with creating meal plans. The possibilities are endless and there’s certainly an abundance of tips, tricks, and meal plans to follow that leave people paralyzed and closing their internet browser. The thing is, every family is different, so, seeing what works for one can leave another feeling like a failure when it doesn’t work.


What’s great about Jossie’s method is it can be customized for everyone. Printing out recipes you know your family loves ensures you always have tried-and-true ideas at hand. It ensures you always have a grasp of what ingredients you need; there’s no running to the store at the last minute because you didn’t realize you needed fennel; you stay on top and in control. And that’s what everyone wants to feel, right?


With all her recipes printed out, after determining what she’ll make for the month, Jossie will then pull those recipes from the back, and place them in order for the week. Each Sunday, she reviews the week’s recipes to determine her grocery list, writes the name of the recipe on her calendar menu, along with where to find the recipe, (just in case she’s using a cookbook), and then on that night, she’ll flip to the day and begin cooking.


It takes all the guesswork out of what needs to be done.


Be flexible. Finally, with busy schedules and what feels like a shortened time to cook, it can be easy to feel down on yourself when things don’t go exactly according to plan, but it’s important to stay flexible with your meal plan. As Jossie recommends, writing in pencil to easily edit a meal can help stay sane and in control, and sometimes know it’s okay to completely scrap the plan all together and just order a pizza.


For family-friendly recipes to use in your monthly meal plan visit Fill Your Plate!


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