MyGreatRecipes Monthly Meal Plan
*This post on creating a monthly meal plan is sponsored by my friends at MyGreatRecipes.com.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been working on a solution to the “what are we eating tonight?” problem. For a long time, I was putting together my family’s meal plans week-by-week. When we just had one fairly self-sufficient teenage kiddo, that worked well, but as soon as life would happen (and we all know life happens), I’d skip planning for that week. Sometimes, I’d skip planning for a couple weeks. Before we’d know it, we would be eating takeout too much, buying things we didn’t make at the grocery store, and turned out pantry into a hot mess. After our 2015 baby arrived on the scene, things were even more chaotic! Enter the idea for the monthly meal plan.

Every Problem Needs a Solution

I needed a solution, and for that solution, I decided that I would come up with a menu plan (and put together the shopping lists) a month in advance. I also streamlined the way I looked at the week, making it much easier to plan each day in the month:

  • Mondays are Meatless
  • Tuesdays are for Tacos (and other Southwestern/Mexican foods)
  • Wednesdays are for Wraps, Burgers, and Sammies
  • Thursdays are for Italian Food
  • Fridays/Saturdays are “Fabulous” (Asian foods, Indian foods, African foods, Mediterranean foods)
  • Sundays are traditional American fare

I look through the month ahead and note any holidays I’d like to cook for (i.e. Mardi Gras, Pi Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.) that require a special menu. 

But Where Do You Find Meal Ideas?

Some of my meal plan items are family favorites, some come from my extensive cookbook collection, and some come from blogs I follow. This is all well and good, but it’s not easy to search all of those places for recipes when I’m trying to get the menu planning task done. 

Recently, I became aware of the MyGreatRecipes app.  This is a visual app that allows you to search for different types of foods, pull up recipes, and share your favorite recipes. For example, if I want to plan a special St. Patty’s Day meal, I can search for such dishes, and get a list:
I like how the format is like Pinterest, since I’m a visual person. When you select a recipe and click on it, you can view the person’s rating of the recipe as well as related recipes. 

This makes it super-easy to find recipes for my meal plan.

Putting My Monthly Meal Plan Together

In addition to scheduling out meals, I also try to schedule out our month – that way, when it comes time to put recipes with days, I know whether there is a class for one of the small people, whether it’s a late-work day for my husband, or whether I’ll have a tight deadline for a client. I try to plan accordingly – simple or slow cooker meals when we’re going to need to eat later in the evening, meals with recipes my husband can follow easily, or planned take-out meals when things are going to be hectic for all of the cooking adults in the family. 

I have a special tab in my Outlook calendar for the menu plans. Here’s an example of how a month’s spread looks. The week of takeout had to do with us going on a short trip to tour a college for the teenager. 

I paste the link to the recipe in the comments section of the “event” on my Outlook calendar so the information is there and ready to go. 

Creating a Grocery List in Advance

It’s going to sound crazy, but the next step I take after creating my month of meals is to break down the month into weeks and create a shopping list for each week. This way, all I have to do is double check my pantry and print the list when we are ready for our weekly big shop. MyGreatRecipes makes it really easy to compile a grocery list in the app. 

How Do You Do Your Meal Planning?

Do you plan meals on the fly, by the week, or by the month? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and be sure you check out the cool new app at MyGreatRecipes