Just the phrase “meal plan” makes me cringe-y. Yep, I know, they can save you money. I realize it makes grocery shopping more efficient and 5pm less stressful, yet I still don’t enjoy the actual task of meal planning.
Which is why, when my friend Marla gave me this ultimate meal plan idea I was amazed. It takes all the yuck out of meal planning and truly makes a life a lot easier. It even works with our hybrid dinner method (hint: the kids don’t eat first)
This is what she taught me:
Take one afternoon and write out all of your family’s favorite meals. I think we all have those meals that we tend to make more than all the others. For us it’s
- 10 Minute Pot Roast
- Chicken (or shrimp) and zoodles
- This Stir Fry recipe
- Chicken bites (the kids LOVE these!!!)
- Slow cooker soups (these are so fast and easy!)
- Quick Chili
- Beans and meat
- Pizza pasta
- Mild Stuffed Peppers
- Chicken pot pie
- Sloppy Joes
- Mini chicken sandwiches
- Pesto chicken ciabattas
- Fish tacos
- Baked chicken (with various toppings)
- Cheesy Goldfish Garlic chicken (The kids love this one!)
- Meatball hoagies
- Mexi-Mac Skillet
- Easy 5 ingredient jambalaya
- Veggie Lasagna
- Chicken Spagetti
- Potato soup
- Baked cheddar chimichangas (made with this salsa)
- Honey balsamic chicken
- Fettuccine alfredo
And a few others. My list is slowly growing, and that’s the point! You want to get your list up to 30 or at least 25-28. Then, each month you just shuffle the meals around to where you want them. It should take you about 5 minutes a month, once you have a pool of 25+ favorite recipes to pull from!
As you make your list, begin putting them in an order that you’d like to eat them. For example, I tend to make our cheddar chimichangas a night soon after we’ve had baked chicken. This way I can use leftover baked chicken to stuff the chimichangas.
When you’ve arranged your list in an order that makes sense…you’ve now got your meal plan for the month. The beauty here is that it’s the last meal plan you’ll ever need.
If you are like our family, you end up having some of those favorites several times a month. With this method, you’ll only do each favorite once a month, so no one gets tired of anything, but you also don’t have to stress about finding something new or coming up with a dinner at 5pm.
If you come up with less than 31 meals use one night of the week for leftovers, eating out, frozen pizzas or experimenting with a new meal on a weekend!
I love that this method can be as fluid and customized as you’d like for it to be, but it is also a fabulous way to keep you out of a dinner rut while still serving things you know your family will eat!
If you need help coming up with a month’s worth of meals OR just want to make the process even faster, I highly recommend the (affiliate link) once a month cooking cookbook! Yummy recipes for the whole month and it comes with ready made grocery lists for each month’s meal plan as well.
Simple, but brilliant!
Do you have a meal planning strategy? What do you think of this one?
Want to save more on groceries beyond your brilliant meal plan? Try these tips!
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