The Ultimate Guide To Monthly Meal Planning For Beginners

If you’ve started reading this post because you’re new to meal planning, then I’ve got great news for you, you are about to master both batch cooking and meal planning. The heart of meal planning is cooking in bulk or commonly known as batch cooking. Monthly meal planning for beginners is a simple step-by-step guide to help you plan meals, and batch cook them, so you can re-heat and eat through the week, saving time and money in the process.

This month, we shall introduce all aspects of simple meal planning and discuss how to implement each step. Planning meals for the week has never been easier with our meal planning templates.

Why Meal Plan?

I discovered meal planning by accident. It was around the time I became a parent and realized that the one thing my kids said to me without fail was, “what’s for tea?” There has never been a day when either of my kids has not asked me that question. I hated not answering them because it opened up the door for them to start demanding foods that I didn’t have in the house, and then a row would often occur. So each Sunday, I grabbed my notebook and started preparing a meal plan for a week. Above each day of the week, I wrote a meal, then scribbled a quick shopping list of any ingredients I needed for those meals. Voila, that was the most basic meal plan known to man!

What is meal planning?

Meal planning for some involves getting dinner on the table as quickly as possible. For others, it might be preparing all the meals for a week to store in the fridge, and for others, it might be batch cooking and freezing a month’s worth of meals. Some people might want to start meal planning to start a healthy eating plan or create healthy diet plans and prepare calorie-controlled portions for weight loss.

Meal planning to me,  suggests putting procedures and habits into place each day so you know how to plan a meal and smoothly transition from a hectic workday to a calm mealtime without having last-minute panics or dashes to the supermarket!

A meal planner is a  tool that allows you to plan your meals in advance. It can be created around your family schedule and could be a weekly meal planner or a monthly meal planner depending on how refined you’d like it to be.

The benefits of using a monthly meal planning calendar.

Today, we live in an ultra-busy world. We work longer hours than ever before. We have busier social lives than our predecessors did. We spend more family time together than any other generation, focusing on after-school activities, sports clubs, and parties more than ever before.

Even though we have healthy food readily available to us whenever we would like it, many of us grab the first sugary or salty snack that we can get our hands-on, and we are a nation of junk food addicts who are used to super fast food served in a blink of an eye.

Any super-organized person will tell you how much they rely on their meal planner to help them stick to a healthy meal plan and help them avoid having to eat pallid unhealthy ready meals in an emergency.

The benefits of using a meal planner are:

  • Super speedy meals whenever you need them
  • Healthy home cooked meals, packed full of goodness
  • Always knowing what’s for tea every evening
  • Wider choice of meals
  • Less food wastage
  • Less impulse purchasing in the supermarket
  • Healthy meal plans
  • Less salt and sugar in the diet

 Monthly meal planning can be daunting and overwhelming if you haven’t done it before, but once you get into the swing of things, you’ll never look back!

If you seek to plan out meals for the week or month in advance, a weekly or monthly meal planner can help you get organized.

Food planning/meal planning is far easier than scrambling around trying to find something in the kitchen at 6 pm after a busy day at work,  and it is definitely worth the effort!

Making monthly food plans is like going out for a run. The hardest part is starting!

How to make a weekly meal planner.

Before we dive into the depths of monthly meal planning, it is advisable to start with a weekly plan. This will give you some ideas of the meals which work for your family the types and amounts of ingredients you will need, and it is an excellent introduction to monthly meal planning, so to start your weekly meal plan :

  1.  Grab a pen and write down all the meals you usually like to eat throughout the week, it doesn’t have to be fancy just a quick list of 7 meals you and your family like to eat regularly.
  2. Write a quick list of the regular activities you attend each day and evening such as work, kids activities and sports, visiting relatives etc. Just to give you an indication of which blocks of time in your day you are going to be unavailable to make a meal from scratch. 

For example, if you are always at swimming lessons until late on Wednesday evenings, it would be tricky to prepare a big meal when you get home.

Now you’ve got a basic outline of the days you are busy, free days, and the meals you like to eat.

Weekly meal plan calendar

These weekly menu planners and grocery list is a simple way to plan healthy family meals a week in advance and is designed to work well with my simple planner pages.

Weekly menu planner 

This is a simple weekly menu planner with a grocery list. Has space to jot down anything you may have run out of or any ingredients you need to buy. To download this weekly meal planner template, click below!

weekly meal planner

How to use the weekly meal planner

Jot down on the weekly meal planner all the activities you have this week. Remember to include the weekends and evenings you are busy and cannot spend much time cooking. I often need to grab a quick meal for the kids if their sports activities clash with meal times!

weekly meal planner

On the busiest evenings,  schedule the quickest and easiest meals to make from your list, then plan the most challenging meals, which take up the longest time to prepare, onto the evenings where you are free. For example, pasta with a homemade (defrosted) sauce is our go-to meal when we need to be at karate by 5 pm. It’s quick but still healthy. Read this post if you’d like to check out my batch cooking recipe for freezable pasta sauce. All the meals that I have circled have been pre-cooked in batches and frozen to make mealtimes quicker. You can read how to batch cook in this post.

weekly meal planner template

Weekly Meal Planner template.

This meal planner is slightly more in-depth meal than the weekly menu planner and is excellent to print if you have small children who have snacks and packed lunches for school, as it includes a space for breakfast, lunches, and dinners. This meal template planner is a must for budget meal planning! To download, click here!

Meal planning by theme

You can organize your weekly meal planner by themes: For example, an Italian night or family favorites vegetarian nights. Themed menus can take boredom away from mealtimes, inspire fabulous dishes, and get creative and culinary juices flowing!

My ideal night is English night as I get to eat my favorite egg and chips!

To download this blank weekly menu planner template, Click here .

To download the meal plan with meals click here.

The Family Meal Planning calendar

This meal planner is a favorite in our house as everyone gets to eat their favorite meals during the week.

My advice would be to start planning meals for a week until you get the hang of it. Using a family menu planner is a great way to get the family to eat together and a great place to begin because you are not having to learn new dishes and probably have a lot of the ingredients already in your pantry. Try different meal plans to see which works best for you!

Here’s One I Made Earlier!

if you want a head start I’ve made a whole weeks worth of food for you including breakfast , dinner lunch and snacks/desert so you can just jump right in here if you prefer! You can fi d the whole weekly meal plan here

Monthly meal planning calendar

Once you have got used to the weekly meal plan, it is time to start monthly meal planning! Take the meals you’ve been eating for the week and transfer them to the monthly meal planner! If you have a few other meals you’d like to add to your plan, you can replace some of the meals with those for a couple of days to mix things up a bit! Click here to get this monthly meal plan calendar.

Jotting down the meals, which take a lot of preparation, onto the quieter days on your planner ensures that you have plenty of time on those days to prep re the time-consuming meals.

monthly meal planner

Now you are in control of your meals for the entire week; you know what you will be eating and when you’ll be eating it, so now you need to write a shopping list to buy everything you need! To download my monthly meal planner and grocery list click here.

Meat such as chicken can be frozen and thawed the night before y u need it, ready to chuck into the slow cooker the following day.

In my post, Healthy Meal Prep Ideas, I will share some fantastic meal prep ideas to make it easy and quick to knock up those healthy meals in minutes. I’ll also be sharing with you my tips on how to prep those healthy meals for the ne t step in our meal prep extravaganza!

FAQ

How can I use the monthly meal plan on a budget?

Mo thly meal planning is perfect for people on a budget because there are no special ingredients or expensive gadgets to purchase. All my meal planner templates are free to download, and you can get started straight away. All you need to do is follow the simple steps outlined above using the meals you already cook on your budget and start your monthly meal planning or your cheap weekly meal plan!

What are some good monthly dinner menu ideas?

I’ve put together some of my go-to family dinner recipes, which are also perfect for batch cooking and freezing to get you started, you can check them out by hitting the button below!

How do I make a healthy monthly meal plan?

You should find that the monthly meal planning lends itself perfectly to anyone on a healthy eating plan, as you can prepare and chop all your healthy foods in advance with a bit of planning and meal preparation. For more information on how meal prepping can help you create a healthy meal plan and healthy monthly meal plan on a bu get, click the button below!

How do I know which is the best meal planner for me?

If ou are new to meal planning I suggest you start on a weekly meal planner and stick to the same seven meals each day of the week. If you find one meal isn’t working for your family, then swap it for another meal. That’s the beauty of meal planning, you can adapt it entirely to fit your lifestyle! once you have got used to meal planning, you can move on to the monthly meal planner.