How To Meal Plan For The Month

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When creating a meal plan for the month, there are a few very important tasks we need to follow.

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.


In this post, I’m going to share how I make a monthly meal plan for our family of 5 in less than 10 minutes. 

Before we get into it, you may want to check out the YouTube video I created when I made our meal plan for the month of September. I used all of the steps below, so you could see our meal plan develop in real time. 

Meal Plan For The Month – September


How A Monthly Meal Plan Saves Time

Listen. We all know meal planning saves time in the long run, but when you are just too busy for just about everything in your mom life, this is the ultimate hack.

You have to worry about school pick-up, lunch, after-school activities, dinner, weekend games and clubs, plus all the other things you need to do for your own well-being. Meal planning shouldn’t add to that stress. 

By making a meal plan for the whole month, you’re taking one huge thing off of your plate for 4 weeks. Sounds awesome? It is.

Monthly Meal Plan Steps

There are 3 essential steps you need to do in order to make a complete monthly meal plan. 

  1. Write staple meals first
  2. Plan around the protein
  3. Alternate breakfast and lunch

These will all make more sense as we break them down below, but creating a monthly meal plan is about streamlining each and every meal you can. Let’s discuss.

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.

Write Staple Meals First

Are you a Taco Tuesday family? Do you have pizza for dinner every Tuesday or Friday night? When it comes to take-out, is it your family tradition to pick a place every Sunday evening. Plug in those staple meals.

For our family, we have pizza every Friday, Mac and cheese with spinach every Monday in the fall and winter, and Pancakes every Sunday morning.

We also have church on Thursday nights, so we have family dinner out that day. Our Saturdays are reserved for Cereal Saturday, so we let the kids have our cereal of the month on those mornings. Yes, cereal for breakfast one morning a week. Pick your battles, parents.

I immediately plug those meals onto my meal planner printable or in my planner.

Once I do this step, I’ve reduced the amount of meals I have to plan from 84 to 64. I’ve also just taken 2 minutes of the 10 to write these onto the sheets. Easy.

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.

Plan Around The Protein

When I wrote the post sharing how to meal plan in 5 minutes, I made a point of mentioning the importance of protein. We get so stuck in the meal planning tasks of picking sides for dinner, that we neglect that protein.

Deciding what protein you’re going to have is the real key, since the cooking of that protein will effect the flow of that particular day. Will you use a slow cooker or Instant Pot? Does it need to be defrosted before you get home? Is it a quick cooking protein, like fish, or is it a protein that will take longer? 

Look at your meal plan sheets. Think of the proteins you have in the fridge and/or freezer right now. Which ones can you plug into your meal plan? It’s totally fine if you just put “chicken dish” or “ground beef dish.” The key is making a decision on the protein so you can prepare it the night before it’s time to use it.

In our family, we love to have a vegetarian dish on Monday, ground meat dish on Tuesday, Chicken dish on Wednesdays, Fish dish on Saturday, and a hearty protein on Sunday (pork tenderloin, pot roast, or a whole roasted chicken are favorites).

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.

Alternate Breakfast and Lunch

Here’s how I stopped stressing over breakfast and lunch: alternation. We have the kids pick 2 or 3 breakfasts and lunches they would like to have for the month, and then we alternate them on the monthly meal plan. 

For example, our current favorites for breakfast are oatmeal and eggs with toast or fruit. I’ll plug in oatmeal first, then eggs and toast, then oatmeal, then eggs and fruit, then oatmeal, then cereal Saturday, then Pancake Sunday. Boom. Done!

For lunch, it works the exact same way. 2 or 3 lunches they are feeling that month, then alternate on the meal plan. Please don’t over-complicate these two meals. They are the simplest ones to meal plan, so keep them simple.

If you need a list of frugal breakfasts and lunches for you and your kids to pick from, here are two helpful posts:

10 Frugal Make-Ahead Breakfasts

Frugal and Easy Bag Lunch Ideas

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.

Let’s Talk Leftovers

The question I get when I teach this system in our Meal Plan Rockstar course is “what about leftovers?” We LOVE leftovers! We use them at our leisure, and since we are already plugging easy meals onto our meal plan for the month, we can place those leftovers anywhere we want. 

You can decide to make a dedicated leftovers night during one of your non-staple meal dinners. You can also bump a lunch and use the leftovers on that lunch day. Don’t stress over leftovers. They’re like a “get out of cooking jail free” pass. Use them however you want.

Bonus tip: Can the leftovers be frozen into individual meals? Freeze them and use them in next month’s meal plan.

Creating a meal plan for the month is so simple! This post shares 3 steps to get your monthly meal plan done in 10 minutes.

The Snack Situation

If you’re a snacking family like we are, deciding on snacks is a big part of your meal plan. Here’s a confession: we totally phone in snacks. Microwave popcorn, cookies from the store, or whatever nutritious snack I can grab on sale is what we have. 

If I have time, I will make homemade granola bars, or create a snack from any leftover fruit towards the end of the month. I pick one snack for the week, and that’s what we have. 

Life is too short to stress over snacks. Pick one and be done.

In Conclusion – Meal Planning Made Easy. For Real.

If you follow the meal planning steps above, you can create our own monthly meal plan for your family, and it will be completely customized to your liking. No need to buy anyone else’s meal plan; you just made your own!

Have any questions about how to truly make this work for you? Please ask them below. I’m here to help you think this through, and make meal planning for the month as simple as possible. See you in the comments!

About Amiyrah

My name is Amiyrah and I'm an an African American fashion & lifestyle blogger based in Ohio.

Plan Your Year Now!


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  1. 6.4.20
    Krystal said:

    Hi, thank you for emphasizing the no-stress factor! Sometimes I get too caught up in trying to think of new recipes and often forget about our favorites and our rotating, seasonal staples. Bookmarking your tips for stress-free monthly meal prep.

    • 6.4.20
      Amiyrah said:

      Thank you so much, Krystal!

  2. 6.4.20
    Sarah said:

    Hi. Thanks for the meal planning tips. At first I thought two breakfast options for a month would be too limiting but when I stopped and thought about it, you actually have four breakfast options per week and the possibility of leftovers. Genius!
    I’m new to your site (via the kitchn) and wonder, do you also grocery shop once a month? Any tips for stretching times between shops? I notice the fewer times I step foot in a store, the less money I spend on impulse purchases.
    Thanks again!

    • 6.4.20
      Amiyrah said:

      Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for reading this post! We actually do shop once a month for groceries. It has helped me tremendously when trying to keep our grocery budget low. I share YouTube videos of our once a month grocery hauls, and have a few blog posts sharing how we do it. Here’s a recent one for you:

  3. 6.4.20
    Katie said:

    Very inspiring! I have been meal planning by month for awhile now, and I look forward to when I’ve got it well enough fine tuned that I stop changing it up every month or so. You’ve provided some great tips toward that goal! But wow – grocery shopping once a month, that’s the next level! I challenged myself to do twice a month during the pandemic but recently went back to weekly. Definitely learned from the experience, though. I guess you might have a deep freeze? I will go watch your grocery haul video now! Cheers, KT

    • 6.7.20
      Amiyrah said:

      Hi Katie! No, we don’t have a deep freezer. We just use the freezer attached to the fridge. But, in my once a month grocery shopping post, I explain how we use mostly fresh items. Once you figure out the timeline of food items, you don’t really need to freeze much.

  4. 6.22.20
    Helen P said:

    We are an elderly couple who eat much less than most American families, I think. E.g., we share a 6oz steak for a treat every six months or so, might have only 2 oz of meat on any one day., and struggle to use produce, especially dairy within the dates (even though I am not a fanatic about those. we have only a small under-the-counter fridge and a freezer of similar size (1.5 cu ft) but we DO have a chest freezer (maybe 12 cu ft) to store all our fruit produce (14 fruit trees plus blueberries, raspberries , and strawberries, plus figs.) The produce (14 fruit trees, a fig, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and more blackberries than we can cope with.) But the small fridge is always full to bursting and in cool weather I actually store my vegetables outside the kitchen door, together with unopened drinks (in bottles or cartons). My kitchen is so small I also have to store any tinned goods outside. At present, My husband shops once a week only, but I could not stretch that any further because of the dairy. We grow many of our own veggies, though are not self-sufficient. Any ideas?

    • 6.24.20
      Amiyrah said:

      Hi Helen! I’m unsure what kind of ideas you’d like help with. I read this 3 times, and still aren’t sure where you’d like my help. Can you elaborate?

  5. 10.22.20
    Sarah said:

    Your ideas are so wonderful! Thank you so much!

    • 10.23.20
      Amiyrah said:

      I’m so happy to help!