Planning a Monthly Menu

by Katie on January 16, 2014

Menu planning is so helpful!  It doesn’t matter how you do it – weekly, monthly, bi-weekly, rotating – whatever works for you and your family is what YOU should do!

I’ve gone about it many different ways – for the past few years I’ve done it weekly.  Now I’m changing it up to monthly and I want to share a little about why I’m changing it up and tips for planning a monthly menu!

You may want to grab a cup of coffee – there is  a lot of info here…

How to Make a Monthly Menu Plan

Why am I Switching Things Up?

  • Money - My main reason is freeing up money!  I think taking out 4 weeks of grocery money at one time as well as planning/shopping monthly will help me save through the month!
  • Stocking Up – I’m hoping that a larger amount of money at the beginning of the 4 weeks will enable me to easier shop at Costco (for a few things) and to stock up on meat sales.  With weekly I struggled sometimes to stock up on deals when I saw them.  Now I will buy most of what I need that first week and can stock up through the month with the leftover.
  • Time Savings- I’m writing up the whole menu in one sitting instead of four which should save a little time.  I will also come up with a big shopping list and buy all that I can in ONE shopping trip.  Then each week will be a little in and out trip for fresh items.  Quinoa, frozen veggies and fruits, meat (for freezing), and canned goods are all great things to buy in advance.  Then each week I will make a quick stop at the grocery to pick up perishables.

5 Tips for Planning a Whole Month of Meals

  1. Plan Around What You Have – I always shop my freezer and pantry for items to use up.  You would be surprised how much you can pull from that.
  2. Get Inspired – I’ve created a Pinterest board just for menu planning.  I’ve been pinning recipes we already love and new ones that I want to try.  Then when I go to plan the menu I have lots of ideas to pull from.  You could also look through cookbooks, magazines, or menu plans that I have posted!
  3. Take Inventory of Your Monthly Schedule – It’s super important to take a good look at what you have going on before you just start filling meals in the days.  Stick with crock pot meals or quick meals like breakfast for dinner on busy nights.   Likewise, if you have a lighter day/week maybe plan a meal or two that can be doubled for the freezer for those busier nights.
  4. Be Realistic – Don’t try to be an over achiever.  The goal is to plan a realistic menu that you can accomplish.  Maybe that means super easy meals every day.  That’s okay!  It’s better to create a menu that you can keep, no matter how simple, than to create an elaborate one and flop and have to run to the drive through four times a week.  The goal is to keep your family fed – no awards are won for a grand menu. :)
  5. Be Flexible – When life happens and you don’t have time to make the dinner your had planned – improvise.  Make something easy or pull a meal from a different day and switch things around.  I do this quite frequently and it all works out!

Different Strategies For Planning a Monthly Menu

It’s important to do what works for you!  Try different things and see what fits with your family best!

  1. My WayWhat works for me is to take inventory of our schedule and plan accordingly and just fill in the rest of the days.  Everyone is different and like I mentioned at the beginning…it doesn’t matter HOW you plan – just that you do plan.  Because if you give it a try you will find that it’s a life-saver – both in time and money savings!
  2. Theme Nights – I’ve seen a lot of people plan theme nights so all they have to do is fill in the night with a meal in that theme.

Monday – Crock Pot
Tuesday – New Recipe
Wednesday – Soup
Thursday – Leftovers
Friday – Pizza
Saturday – Out to Eat
Sunday – Sandwiches

3. Rotating Menu – A rotating menu is a set menu that you repeat monthly.  I’ve seen where people have a fall/winter and a spring/summer menu and each month it’s repeated.  I think this is a great way to streamline things because your grocery list will stay pretty much the same each month and without having to sit down and plan each month you could save some time!

My only suggestion with this would be to allow for one day every week or two to try something new – so you don’t become stale as a cook!

The idea of planning a monthly menu, or any menu, may seem overwhelming to you, but I encourage you to give it a try!  

It will take a little time to get the hang of things, and there will be days when it just doesn’t work out, but I can’t stress how important it is if you are aiming to live a {cutting back} lifestyle!  

If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment!  If you need some inspiration you can check out my menus for the past few year or follow my menu planning Pinterest board!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one } January 24, 2014 at 1:27 am

This is a great idea!! Please let us know what your savings are planning monthly as opposed to weekly! ;)


Katie January 24, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Jocelyn!! I really enjoy reading your blog! I will share the savings at the end of the month. :)


Ash January 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm

I don’t think I’m quite down for an entire month at a time but I will tell you, your website helped me really get a gauge of my expenses – where food is our biggest black hole of money. After reading your site, I printed out weekly meal planners for our dinners and one for my toddler’s breakfast/lunch. I shop weekly, switched to cash-only (even had my bank cancel my debit card and send me an ATM only card so I can’t break my budget at ANY store!) and though I couldn’t quite figure out how to get down to the 30/40/50/whatever $ you do, we set 140$ for meat (grass-fed beef and organic chicken plus whatever roast or steak may be on sale), 80$ weekly for the rest. I had to contain my almost SQUEAL at the grocery store when I really compared brands, prices, ingredients, etc (I was without said toddler hehe) and came in at 51$ my first time shopping on the new budget. Your recipes, your tips, everything has helped so far and I can’t wait to see the 350$+ in savings I should have a month. So thank you, THANK YOU for your site! I was never taught how to save, my parents lived paycheck to paycheck and I’m trying this out so I’m not the same way and so excited to have already kicked ass!


Katie January 6, 2015 at 2:06 pm

I LOVE it Ash!! Way to go! I’m so thankful to have helped you in a small way, but you are the awesome one for taking all of the information and putting it to work in a way that works for you!!! And $51!!! That’s amazing! Hearing news like this is why I blog, so THANK YOU for sharing this with me!


Emily January 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I spent so long buying the items to make up this fancy menu board thing and bought this printable recipe packet to go with it from another blogger and printed it all out, magnets, the whole deal… and I’ve barely used it! I think maybe the biggest problem is that they’re not recipes that my husband and I are familiar with – so it’s all new stuff I’ve never made before.

Perhaps I could just use what I know and add one of hers in every so often – and switch to weekly instead of monthly… monthly just always seems so overwhelming. Saving money is really hard!


Katie January 12, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Hi Emily! Saving money and menu planning is definitely work. It’s not easy when you are figuring it all out, but I promise you it is worth it in the end!!

My tip for you would be to take it slow. Weekly planning is easier than monthly and it really doesn’t matter HOW you do it…whatever works for you is the BEST way to do it. Also, don’t jump in with a bunch of new recipes or fancy recipes. There is nothing at all wrong with just using the recipes you are comfortable cooking and maybe you could just add 1 new recipe a week to shake things up!! And you don’t even need fancy…try having a crock pot night, a sandwich night, or something totally easy. Simplify it and see how that goes!!

If you have any questions or need advice let me know. :)


Alicia September 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I just found this and wanted to say THANK you! I have been trying to make menu/meal plans for a while, but always get overwhelmed! As a mother of 6 and living 30 minutes from any stores I have tried to do the monthly and I just give up. As my husband works in the town where we do most of our major shopping (and hour away) I am thinking I can maybe try the weekly and just have him do the shopping while he is there! And I LOVE the theme idea, I never thought of that! As you can imagine having 6 kids it is hard to please everyone. And can get expensive! But I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I have one that will try anything, and 2 that if they don’t like what it looks like they won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole! So I tend to stick with the same ole stuff. But I LOVE to cook and bake so loving the idea of a new recipe once a week!
Again THANK you for being encouraging!! I am so excited to get started on it this month!


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