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
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
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
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)
Week Commencing 15th June
|Mon||Roast chicken and vegetables|
|Tue||Slow cooker beef and broccoli|
|Thu||Beef stir fry and crunchy noodles|
|Fri||Sausages and crispy mashed potato mounds|
|Sun||Chicken schnitzel and vegetables|
|Shopping List||Weekly menu plan shopping list 150615|
Week Commencing 22nd June
|Mon||Slow cooker roast beef|
|Tue||Slow cooker butter chicken
|Thu||Weekly menu plan shopping list 150622|
Week Commencing 29th June
|Mon||Slow cooker roast lamb|
|Tue||Slow cooker beef stroganoff|
|Wed||Slow cooker butter chicken
Sautéed baby spinach
|Thu||Weekly menu plan shopping list 150629|
Week Commencing 6th July
|Mon||Honey roasted lamb shoulder