Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning

Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning (4 x weekly plans)

It has been a little while since I wrote about monthly menu planning and I have had so many new readers join since then, that I thought I would write up a quick guide on how to easily create a monthly menu plan. Older readers may like to look away now or if you have fallen off the menu planning wagon, read on for a refresher to get you back into it.

I love creating a monthly menu plan as it saves me so much time, energy and stress. The whole family helps out and it is one of those tasks that seems much worse than it is to actually complete. Once completed though, meal planning, preparation and grocery shopping can be on auto pilot for the month.

I have been using this process for almost 10 years now and can plan for a month for our family of 7 in 35 minutes. There are three key steps as outlined below. If you are after a more detailed explanation and resources check out this post – Family Menu Planning FAQ and Monthly Menu Plan or scroll to the end for a video I created a couple of years ago.

1. Selecting the meals

Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning DSC05036
Everyone has the opportunity to select meals for the monthly menu plan. I let the kids scroll through the Planning With Kids Menu App if they need inspiration, but this is rarely the case; they always know exactly what they want for dinner.

We have in place a couple of parameters to ensure balance and variety across the month:

  • A meal can only be on the menu plan twice.
  • They can only select one casual meal. This means meals like homemade pizza or homemade hamburgers.

Quite often I add in the meals for the husband as he is super flexible and combined with my selections, it enables me to obtain the right mix of meals, without having to change the kids’ selections.

Having the kids input to menu planning works so well to reduce meal time stress. They know each week there will a favourite meal of theirs on the menu plan. It is also a great educational process for the kids as well. We talk about the seasons and what food is in season, what meals suit each season and why a mix of foods and style of cooking is important.

2. Creating a weekly matrix

Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning DSC05044
Menu planning is super useful for all families, but particularly so when you have after school activities and other commitments on around meal time. I make sure the menu plan takes into account the families commitments and plan meals to work in with it

For example in the above photo if you can read my messy writing you will notice that Tuesdays is a S.C. (slow cooker)  type meal. On Tuesdays during the winter sport season we are not home until early evening, so it makes my life so much easier and the kids happier if I have a meal ready to feed to them as soon as we walk in the door.

You can download the monthly menu planning template here – Menu Plan Monthly Template (including kid’s input table).

3. Print out plans and shopping lists

Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning DSC05039
Naturally I use the Planning With Kids Menu App to turn my pen and paper plans into printed plans and shopping lists for each week.

You can easily do the same by hand if you are using your own recipes or recipes from a cook book. It is really worth while writing the plans and lists out so you can recycle them for another week. File them away in a folder and if you have a week where you are pushed for time, you can just pull out a meal plan and shopping list without having to think about it and the meals for the week are sorted!

Our monthly menu plan (4 x weekly plans)

Quick guide to  easy monthly  menu planning

Day

Week Commencing 15th June

Monroast chickenRoast chicken and vegetables
Tueslow cooker beef and broccoli mainSlow cooker beef and broccoli
WedShepherd's Pie FullShepherd's pie
Thubeef stir fry recipeBeef stir fry and crunchy noodles
FriCrispy mashed potato moundsSausages and crispy mashed potato mounds
Sat2013 paleo homemade taco seasoningHomemade tacos
Sunchicken-schnitzel-recipe-500
Chicken schnitzel and vegetables
Shopping ListWeekly menu plan shopping list 150615
Quick guide to  easy monthly  menu planning

Day

Week Commencing 22nd June

MonSlow Cooker Roast BeefSlow cooker roast beef
Tueslow cooker butter chicken

green veggie recipe title
Slow cooker butter chicken

Green veggies
WedMexibake - Mexican Family MealMexibake
ThuWeekly menu plan shopping list 150622
Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning

Day

Week Commencing 29th June

MonSlow Cooker Roast LambSlow cooker roast lamb
TueSlow cooker beef stroganoff mainSlow cooker beef stroganoff
Wedslow cooker butter chicken

sauteed baby spinach.jpg
Slow cooker butter chicken

Sautéed baby spinach
ThuWeekly menu plan shopping list 150629
Quick guide to easy monthly menu planning

Day

Week Commencing 6th July

MonHoney roasted lamb shoulderHoney roasted lamb shoulder
Tue

green veggie recipe title
Shepherd's pie

Green veggies
ThuMenu Planner App

The kid friendly menu planning app allows you to:

  • Create weekly menu plans quickly, choosing as many meals per day as you would like to plan for.
  • Generate the shopping list for all the meals selected.
  • Modify the shopping list to check off items you already have at home.
  • Email the shopping list to yourself and/or others.

The most popular recipes from the blog have been included and more will be added on a regular basis. Each recipe lists the ingredients required, easy to follow instructions and a photo from the blog.

How often if at all do you menu plan?