Maximize your time by creating a monthly family meal plan that your whole family will love. Here’s some tips and tricks for creating the best meal plan for your family.
You know that we’ve been on this entire health kick this year. It’s not as easy as we thought it would be. We learned very quickly that if you don’t plan properly you can easily fall off of the wagon. We’re slowly implementing changes one by one so that we don’t wear ourselves out. One of the things that has been helping us make these new family lifestyle changes is creating a monthly family meal plan.
Monthly family meal plans were the best way to go for a few reasons. I dread grocery shopping because most of the time my family will pick up extra things that aren’t on the list causing us to go over our budget. They also love piling the junk food into our cart. By shopping monthly, we’ve been able to eliminate those dreaded trips and stay on budget.
How to Create a Monthly Family Meal Plan
Creating a monthly family meal plan is easier than it sounds. Here’s a few tips to get you started.
1. Choose easy meals for the busiest nights
Our weeknights are filled with after school activities, some nights are jam packed more than others. On the nights when we have more than one after school activity, we choose simple meals that can be made in under 30 minutes with less than 5 ingredients. The last thing that I want to do when we get home is to stay in the kitchen all night preparing dinner. Some of our favorite simple meals include chicken and waffles, this Instant Pot Corn Chowder, or air fryer buffalo chicken fries. If you’re having a breakfast for dinner night, these homemade fluffy pancakes are a must!
2. Plan in advance
Planning in advance is the best thing you can do when meal planning. Before we head to the grocery store (we love shopping at Sprouts), we do a quick pantry inventory to see what items we have stocked in our kitchen. Once our inventory is done, we come up with a menu using our stocked items as a base. Not only does this help us stay within our budget but it also ensures that we’re not buying things that we don’t have the space for.
3. Don’t forget the dairy
Dairy is so important when meal planning. It’s is a staple item on our grocery list every single time. We try to incorporate milk, yogurt or cheese with our meals especially for the kids as a way to help them get all of their daily required amounts in. Macaroni and cheese is on our menu a few times a month so we have to make sure we always have enough cheese on hand.
4. Let your family help with your monthly family meal plan
Getting your family involved is so important. My family is made up of some of the pickiest eaters. If I don’t involve them in meal planning, I’ll have to listen to complaints all month long. Ask your family what dishes they like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I always let the kids pick 2-3 snack options each for every week. This gives them a variety of snack options to choose from and everyone is happy.
5. Stay consistent with themed nights
Themed nights are everyone’s favorite! Tacos anyone? Nothing goes over better than my family making their own choices for dinner. Themed nights spice things up and allow everyone to be happy in the decision they make for dinner. Once a week we have a themed night. Some nights it’s tacos, some nights it’s fried chicken. These jerk chicken tacos are always a huge hit with everyone including the kids. If we’re having a barbecue night, our go-to is definitely baby back ribs or a beef brisket. A fun theme goes a long way. No matter what, everyone is happy and full on themed nights.
6. Choose fruits and veggies with less sugar
Fruits and veggies are an essential part of our daily routine too. Since we’re trying to make healthier choices, we always add fruits and vegetables that are lower in sugar to our meal plan. We typically like to have 3-4 servings of each throughout the day so we make sure to include enough to get our entire family through the week. We each make a list of our favorites and add them to our grocery list. Smoothies are the perfect way for us to make sure that we get our fruits and veggies in on a daily basis.
7. Have a list of go-to meals that your family loves
Sometimes I’m just way too tired to even wrap my head around thinking about dinner. Creating a monthly meal plan takes all of that stress away but sometimes I get stuck doing that. Over time my family has come up with a list of meals that have been hits for dinner time. We keep the list of our favorite meals on our refrigerator so that it’s easier to just add them to our menu every month. Some of our go-to meals are spaghetti, barbecue meatballs, and baked chicken.
8. Incorporate healthy frozen meals into your monthly family meal plan
Healthy meals aren’t all bad. Trader Joe’s has some amazing frozen meals that my family loves. I try to incorporate them into our monthly meal plan at least a handful of times throughout the month. They’re quick and easy to make, and I can use my spare time with my family or decluttering our home.
9. Have occasional take out nights
Take out night is either every Friday or Saturday for us. At the end of the week all I want to do is relax and kick my feet up. We account for takeout in out budget so that we’re not overspending. This helps to keep track of how much we’re spending on take out.
10. Grill in bulk
Grilling larger amounts of veggies and proteins ahead of time can save time when meal prepping. When we’re meal prepping on Sundays, sometimes we grill enough for 2-3 days. We can use the food that we grill in multiple different dishes.
11. Don’t sleep on leftovers
Leftovers are huge lifesavers sometimes. I put them on our menu at least once a week. Take advantage of getting a night off by incorporating leftovers into your monthly menu.
Have you ever created a monthly family meal plan?