Monthly Meal Planning – Save Time & Your Sanity!

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Imagine not having to worry about what to cook for an entire month. Not having to make a grocery list each week or waste time aimlessly wandering through the store. Here’s how to create a monthly meal plan to save your time and your sanity!

While monthly meal planning isn’t for everyone, it can be a tremendous sanity saver if you are on a tight budget or want to save time by getting it done in chunks. I love the feeling of not having to worry about what to make every single day! Such freedom!

If it seems intimidating, don’t worry–we’re going to break it down! Pull out your recipe collection and let’s get started!

How to monthly meal plan and save your time and sanity!


Set yourself up for success by selecting themes or categories that work with your favorite foods and that make sense for you.

These are categories that you have at least 4 meals with a staple in common, such as: rice, potatoes, soup, Mexican, Chinese, chicken, beef, pasta, meatless, slow-cooker, pizza, etc.

Each day of the week, Monday through Sunday should be assigned a theme. If you eat out once a week, you can enter that for one day. When selecting which category to assign to each day, think about your general schedule and how easy (or time-consuming) each type of food is.

For instance, your busiest days should be freezer meals or slow-cooker meals and not the meat dish that takes 4 hours to prepare!


Write your 7 categories at the top of a blank calendar page (or just make a list on a sheet of paper). Start going through your recipe collection and plot out your favorite meals. It’s easiest to start with weekly staple meals, like Friday Pizza Night or Taco Tuesday, then fill in the more complex themes.

Your goal is to have a set plan for week 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the month. You can have a unique meal for each of the four weeks, or you can repeat twice a month or even every week. It’s easy to move things around if you need to, but getting a draft down is key!

As you are filling in your calendar, you may notice that two similar dishes might end up next to each other, so feel free to move things around for variety. Tweak it until it feels right for you.


Saving time and energy becomes even simpler if you have a ready to go shopping list for the week, every 2 weeks or even the whole month. Depending on how often you need fresh ingredients, you’ll plan this accordingly.

I found that making a monthly list for bulk, dry goods, canned and boxed ingredients and a weekly list for fruits, veggies and dairy worked the best for me.

Make a master shopping list by writing down all the ingredients needed for the meals, marking how much of common ingredients you’ll need (think dairy, dry or bulk). This is your chance to keep it simple, do a massive shopping trip and stock up, or break it into small and quick trips throughout the month.

This is also a great time to do a cost breakdown of meal ingredients for staple foods you buy if you’re on a tight budget and want to track sales.


To keep things simple, I recommend just having one month of meals, but if you have a lot of recipes you like to make, feel free to put together multiple months and rotate.

I have only a few meals that repeat throughout the month so in general, each meal is only eaten once a month. Not too bad! In the future, I may shake things up, but this was the most cost-effective way for me.

If you’re ready to simplify your meals, monthly meal planning will take so much stress off you. Set aside a chunk of time and let’s do this!

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    1. It really does make a huge difference! I love knowing that I have all the ingredients I need and don’t need to make a last minute decision about what to make. Thanks for reading!

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