Hi all! I hope that you enjoyed a good holiday and hopefully, you got a break (even for a day). There’s a few days left until December 1 and that means one thing in my household. It’s meal planning time.
In my house, we get paid once per month and I have tried a variety of meal planning methods over the years, but one seems to work for me and my family. Please know that each family should do what works for them. In my household, I meal plan for the entire month. I plan our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and I even plan a few treats. If you’re new to my site, I’ll give you a brief description of my family’s meal needs: gluten-free, onion-free, and little dairy. Luckily, I don’t have picky eaters so that helps me.
Since we get paid once per month, I do a mass grocery shopping trip at the beginning of the month. Then, I take one weekend where I make as many meals as I can and freeze them. Every two weeks, I’ll restock fruits and any fresh veggies. Because we eat a lot of frozen peas and canned green beans, I’ll usually get fresh carrots and broccoli every now and then. Overall, this save us a lot of time and money and my family can eat healthy meals throughout the month.
Years ago, I learned a great way to meal plan. Now, that I know my family’s eating habits, likes, and dislikes (I’ve made notes over the years), I can easily plan our meals because I know what everyone will easily eat. Our meal plans go something like this:
15 dinners, twice per month = 30 dinners. On 31-day months, the last day is take out day (which is also our payday).
6 breakfasts are prepared weekly. Day 7 is make your own breakfast day.
Lunches are usually leftover dinners for my husband and I. The kids sometimes eat at school. When they don’t, they take turkey sandwiches, apple sauce, chips, and cheese sticks. By now, I know how much money to plan for each month.
So that’s what works for us. I also do themed months when it comes to dinners. Because a good portion of our budget will go to Christmas festivities, I try to accomplish two things when planning dinners: something that can easily be cooked and something that is budget friendly. For the month of December, we are going with soups and stews for at least 50% of the meals. I also take into account our busy days. For example, Tuesdays and Thursdays are kid activities, so we need leftovers or easy meals (usually crockpot meals). Below is our dinner menu for December:
Beef and Vegetable Stew
Lasagna Soup (GF noodles)
Chicken Pot Pie Stew
Regular Chili (red)
White Chicken Chili
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Minestrone Soup (GF noodles)
Italian Peasant Soup
Red Beans and Rice
American Goulash with peas (GF pasta)
Pork Loin, Peas, and Ramen (each Thursday)
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Breakfast Meals (gluten-free flour is used)
Sausage, egg, and toast
Sheet Pan Pancakes with fruit
Baked Oatmeal with blueberries
Grits, eggs, and bacon
Pumpkin Muffins and sausage
Hash brown Casserole
Make your own breakfast
This meal, plus toiletries, dog food, and lunch food comes out to less than $500 for our family of four. I’ll do a separate post on how we budget, and no, we have not grown our food yet. Now, I’ll buy enough ingredients to make all of these things, but there are times where I realize I’ve bought too much. That’s not a bad thing. On the nights where we’re too tired to cook or when we forgot to thaw what we wanted, we can easily make a dinner not on this list. Also, having leftover food, such as dry beans and oatmeal, helps me build our pantry. On Christmas Eve, we’ll definitely have leftovers because I’ll get a head start on Christmas dinner. The main point is to make sure that there is enough food to last until the end of the month.
How do you meal plan?