my monthly meal planning routine

I will be the first to admit to you that I am NOT a cook. And honestly, I'm okay with it. 

At our house, Andrew kind of takes the lead on cooking, because he actually likes to do it (lol). I am happy to be his sous chef, helping with the prep, setting the table, and then loading the dishwasher and washing pots and pans after our meal. It works out well for us.

Another part of my role is doing the meal planning each month and pulling together our grocery list for the week. Yes, I said monthly meal planning. I started sitting down at the beginning of each month to plan our meals and it has really simplified our grocery routine. I've had a few people ask me about it, so I figured it might be useful to share a bit about my process here!

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I love monthly meal planning for a few reasons:

  1. Honestly, meal planning isn't my favorite. But, when you do it monthly, you only have to do it once every few weeks!
  2. When I create my grocery list each week, I have an easy menu to refer to and don't have to spend brain power EVERY week (see #1) deciding what we're going to eat for the week AND what we need to buy.
  3. I'm a very visual person, and it helps me to see the month as a whole and plan our meals out so we don't get tired of a particular dish by repeating a few weeks in a row, or something like that. 

Curious to try out monthly meal planning? Here's my process:

Step 1: Print out a monthly calendar & fill in what you have going on that would affect dinner.

Oftentimes I just go to Pinterest or Google and type in "monthly *insert name of the upcoming month here* calendar" and print off the first one I see. Next, I pull out my agenda and write down anything we have planned for the month that might affect dinner plans. For example, as you can see below, we have plans to watch a few football games (insert praise hands that college football is back!) and I have a few things during the week which will affect whether we need to cook at home. 

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Step 2: Explore new recipes and refer to old favorites.

Flip through your favorite cookbooks, scroll Pinterest, refer to your recipe binder, or wherever you prefer to look for recipes. I personally love to scroll Pinterest and have two boards I pull from-- one with "tried and true" recipes we've tried and like, and another board with pins of recipes that I put into our rotation to try.

Here are a few of our favorite recipes that you'll see on our calendar monthly:

Step 3: Fill out your calendar based on your favorite recipes and your schedule for the month. 

For evenings that we have plans, I'll decide if that either entails us having dinner out or just cooking something quick and simple, and put that down on the calendar first. We usually eat dinner out on the weekends, so I put that on the calendar. Then, I fill in the rest of the days of the week with the recipes I chose in step 2, varying the protein from night to night. You'll notice I repeat recipes, too- there's nothing wrong with that!

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The key here is to give yourself a whole lotta grace here, my friends. More often than not, we have to shift days around because I forgot to take meat out of the freezer or we've just had a long day and "need" to go out for tacos. (Ya feel?!) And it's totally okay. Remember, a meal plan is a tool to help you, not something that should stress you out. Flexibility is key!

What do you think about monthly meal planning? Also... do you have any go-to recipes I need to add to next month's plan? I'd love to hear! 

xo, 
Ryann