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Friday, May 13, 2011

How I Keep My Budget Under Control - Monthly Meal Planning

I have been asked numerous times how I make my monthly menu plans. I was curious how others made theirs, so I googled it. (well, really, I swagbucksed it LOL) I think some people make menu planning a lot harder than it has to be. I don’t know about you, but I want to make my life as easy as possible. That’s one reason I meal plan. Taking 15 steps to do something that could be done in 5 seems silly to me.

Anyway. I already talked about how I make my weekly menus HERE. Making my monthly menu plan is just an extended version of that. First, I write list of numbers, the dates of the month. (you could use a calendar to make it easier, but for some reason that doesn’t work for me.) Then I go through my fridge, freezers, and pantry to see what has to be used up, like right now. Things that have been in there the longest. Maybe there is some veggies in the fridge that are starting to look rough. I’ll add some kind of stir fry to the list. That steak has been in there awhile, it goes somewhere on the menu too.

Once I’ve plugged in some meals, I turn to the boys and ask for suggestions. Hubby usually has quite a few and with a monthly meal plan, I can space them out however I want. That way, I don’t have to have some kind of hamburger 4 nights in a row.

Usually by the time I’ve went through the freezers and asked for suggestions, I have almost filled in all the blanks. If I haven’t, I turn to the Internet. There are millions of recipes at your fingertips, you just have to look for them! I’ll plug in a few new recipes and bam, our monthly meal plan is complete.

One thing to remember as you’re creating your menu is things that are going on that month. This month, we have a few doctors appointments, some picnics and things that I know I’m going to have to plan around. I can make sure I plan a crock pot meal for nights we will be running around. I have time to look for a recipe to make for the picnic (I won’t be stuck last minute trying to throw something together!)

When I do monthly meal plan, I also shop for the month. Since I have a built up stockpile, I normally don’t have a big grocery list. I write down what I know I need to buy, and get the rest from my stockpile. For example, this month I only needed to buy a handful of items for the whole month. The rest is coming from my stockpile. I’ve done all my grocery shopping for the month and it cost me a total of $17.70. I will still have to buy milk and produce. I also didn’t have to buy any meats this month as we have a ton in the freezers. I’ll use the rest of the grocery budget this month ($82.30) to stock up on things. If we end up needing something, I have plenty of money to get whatever, or to add that money to savings.
This is my meal plan planning for the month. The top is the meals, the bottom the grocery list.

Monthly meal planning makes my life so much easier. And it helps keep my grocery budget down! Do you meal plan?


  1. I agree that meal planning doesn't have to be super complicated. It certainly keeps me sane.

    I always fill my list first with appointments that will mean specific meal planning... only 1 hours to make dinner before leaving for a meeting? We'll probably have Sloppy Joes from the freezer that night. Then I fill in the gaps with meals that allow for a little more time to create- and I don't keep to a strict day on these meals... what if spaghetti is scheduled for Tuesday but I don't want spaghetti? I like to keep it flexible.

    It's great that your boys and husband offer suggestions about what they'd like to eat. My family act like deer in headlights when I ask what they might want to eat. I love cruising the web for recipes, too.

    Thanks for sharing how you meal plan. It's always refreshing to see how other mom's do things.

  2. Awesome blog! Feel free to stop by and follow me back at www.ageekswifeandherdog.com and also link up with Friendly Friday Follow

  3. You have inspired me and I am going to try menu planning.

    Last week Hubs found out he needs another kidney stone blasted. I told him he needs to eat a healthier diet and the only way he is going to do that is to plan it.

    Today, we are headed over to Four Seasons in Ohio and I will be stocking up on fresh vegetables.

    Thanks Keli for all your ideas!!


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