As many of you probably already know we plan our meals for a month at a time and do one big monthly food shop. Lots of you have asked about how we do this and so I’m going to use this months plan as a working example to talk you through it.
First things first, I use one meals for the month sheet and one grocery list sheet per month – these are available from my printables post HERE.
I start by adding the dates. I like to have full weeks on the top so add the extra days from the last month in a different colour or if there are a few days of this month left on that week I will add them to the end of the last sheet and start with a full week on this sheet.
To start with I would go through my calendar and block out any days I know we’re eating out or away for. I then tackle Monday’s first as they are the day I need easy, quick meals for – can’t often be bothered to do much on a Monday night. Then I put Sunday’s in which are often roasts so easy to plan.
Then I start filling in the rest of the first week day by day. We keep previous months meal plans for ideas when stuck, use slow cooker cookbooks, recently found two sites full of recipe ideas to use too – The Savvy Shoppers Cookbook and Your Home Based Mom or mobile apps like Tasty.
Then the same for the second week and so on.
I plan until the end of the month but we normally only shop for 4 week blocks, so this time we will buy until 26th March (near pay day!) then that final week will be added to the next 4 week block for shopping. So once the meals are planned for the month, it’s time for the actual items needed to make them.
I go through one meal at a time and break it down by ingredients – so the first meal was steak and the items we needed for that meal go in the relevant sections.
I also scribble the meals down the side so I have them at hand when in the shops. Then I started on the second meal which was hunters chicken, again adding the ingredients we don’t have in the house to the relevant sections – cupboard staples like herbs we normally have so don’t add to the list. The sections are really helpful when walking around the shop to know all of the items I need to pick up in each section and not have to keep walking back and forth.
Once I’ve written most of the meat options down (before getting all the way through the meals), I tend to go through and just count how many packs of beef mince, chicken etc is on the plan then just add a number next to them for ease.
The final list looks like this! This includes all the ingredients in our dinners. Then I add on any extras we need like kitchen roll, lunch items, cereals etc.
We then start at Aldi, buy as much as we can find, then head to Asda for the rest including brand names that we just prefer. We top up fresh items like milk, bread and fruit/veg as needed throughout the month, put all fresh meat in the freezer and pull it out the day before we need it and make sure we pick items with the longest use by date on in the shops – it’s much easier than you would expect to find stuff that lasts for 4 weeks!! We also buy a mixture of fresh and frozen fruit and veg which goes a lot further.
We spend about 2-3 hours planning and shopping each month and it makes the rest of the month so easy and stress free. This method also definitely saves us money – If I go out to do a one week shop I spend more than half of our monthly shop amount in one go.
I worked far from home before and every night had serious stress rushing home about what we would have for dinner and if we had the right ingredients (often not!) which resulted in lots of trips to the shops where we ended up buying more stuff that got wasted or spending loads on takeaways as by the time I’d have worked out what to cook/buy it would’ve been late! I can honestly say planning has changed my life completely!
If you missed it above, my planning sheets are available HERE.
I hope this was helpful!
Lots of love
Mrs Rackley xx