A monthly meal planner saves you time, money and eat better. I’ve always been a big fan of meal planning an entire month at a time because it saves you so much time overall. And after you’ve created three or four monthly meal plans, you can just keep using those over and over again – saving even more time in your busy life.
I grew up with a mom that menu planned a month at a time. She did one or two big grocery shopping trips a month and then just did quick weekly trips for produce and milk.
I thought everyone meal planned like that.
This was back before computers and apps and a printable meal planner. My mom used a pencil, a spiral notebook and a ruler to make her own calendar. Eventually she created several monthly meal planner templates that she committed to in pen. She used those monthly meal plans for years and years.
Luckily for you and me, there are now computers, printers and this free downloadable monthly meal planner to make our menu planning much easier.
How do I start meal planning?
- Collect a list of your favorite recipes.
- If you don’t have many go-to recipes, start looking for ones to add to your recipe list.
- Divide your recipes into categories, such as:
- Instant Pot
- Slow Cooker
- Cold Weather
- Hot Weather
- Busy Day
- Use this free monthly meal planner to assign meals to each day of the month.
- Create a balance of different meal categories each week and throughout the entire month.
- Plan for leftovers and eating out.
- Consider your family members’ meal preferences.
- Take your family’s weekly schedule into consideration when planning meals for each day.
- I like to add two or three slots each month to try new recipes.
- This monthly meal planner set contains 6 different monthly templates. Once you’ve created all six, you can rotate them over and over again so you’ll never have to meal plan again.
In addition to saving you time and reducing chaos, when you meal plan you can save money. Yea!
Monthly Meal Planner
How to Use the Monthly Meal Planner
This free monthly meal planner consists of 6 monthly templates:
- Month 1
- Month 2
- Month 3
- Summer Month
- Winter Month
- Blank Month
Fill in each monthly template with your favorite meals. Use the key on the right side of the planner to create a balance of different recipe categories.
I find it easiest to first plan the recipe categories for each day of the month. I assign one of the category numbers to each day, then I go back and fill in the appropriate recipes to match each planned category.
I have found some great recipe ideas on this 4 Week Family Dinner Plan from Wondermom Wannabe. Be sure to check out the recipes to round out your own monthly meal plan.
What’s for Dinner Meal Planner – For less than $2/week, you’ll save hours in meal planning and lots on your grocery budget.
Meal planning this way allows me to consider the many factors that influence the meal choices I put on the planner:
- To accommodate our busy schedule
- I plan either slow cooker recipes or leftovers for busy nights when I don’t have much time to cook.
- More involved recipes are assigned to weekend nights.
- Our budget
- Our family preferences
- I do my best not to plan two meals in a row that someone doesn’t like. If I schedule a meal that a family member doesn’t like, I try to then schedule one of that is a favorite in that week.
- Create a balance between the categories of recipes
It will take you some time to create your first monthly meal planner, especially if you’ve never meal planned an entire month before. But don’t get discouraged. The time you put in now will result in a menu plan that you can use again and again for years to come.
Once you create 3 different monthly meal plans, you have an entire quarter of the year’s meals planned. You can rotate those 3 meal plans over and over again and not get tired of having the same old meals.
Due to difference in temperatures and seasonal activities, be sure to include a summer and a winter monthly meal plan. Adding these two additional meal plans into the rotation increases the variety of monthly meal plans you can use all year long.
Additional Meal Planning Resources
- Family Meal Planning – How to get family members on-board and determine your family members’ favorite and don’t-like meals with 2 free printable worksheets.
- List of Meals for Dinner Template – This 10-page free printable allows you to organize your favorite family recipes to make your meal planning easier.
How to Download the Meal Planner
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How to Print the Monthly Meal Planner
Print the monthly meal planner on your printer. You can use computer paper but I encourage you to either:
- Print the monthly meal planner templates on card stock paper, which is sturdier than computer paper.
- Laminate each completed monthly meal planner so it will hold up to years of use. You can get a reasonably priced laminator and use for many other uses around your home. See how I used mine to create Back-to-School Morning Routine Printables.
Consider if you want to print the meal planners out on just the front side of 6 pages or print them front and back of three pages. Choose what will work best for how you meal plan.
Be sure to pin now so you can always find this free monthly meal planner printable to share with friends.
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I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.