Monthly Menu Plan

March 7, 2011

menu plan

I went to the shops almost every day last week.

I hate that.

It means that I spend more money than I should, not to mention the waste of time and petrol because our ‘local shops’ aren’t actually that close. It happened because of a combination of things but mostly because I was disorganised.

We usually do one big shop a month for all the staples and non-perishables. Then I try to limit it to one shop per week for things like fruit and vege and bread and milk. This works really well for us, saves us time and money, if I am organised and plan a little in advance.

In a perfect Picklebum world I make monthly menu plans.

It’s not rocket science or anything too anal. My menu plans are not set in stone and I am forever crossing things off and changing them around, but that’s ok. It’s not a strict set of meals I must adhere to, to make it work for me it needs to be flexible, even if that does make it less pretty.

I usually only plan for dinners and some school lunches, the rest we seem to manage without too much trauma or too many extra shopping trips. I usually start with a list of meals that we are currently enjoying (I tend to vary my list from season to season) and then slot them in around what we have going on.

Last year I wrote my menu plans on a calendar stuck on the fridge. This year I’ve been looking for printable calendar pages to use, but I hadn’t found quite what I was looking for, and hence, no menu plan and a million trips to the shops. But I have no excuses now… I whipped up a blank monthly template for my menu plans this morning and got to work filling it in.

picklebums menu plan grid

It’s just a simple grid with space for five weeks. I decided to just leave space to write the dates in by hand for each month – saved me time at the computer and it means I can customise them to work regardless of what date I start on. For mine I also added in a few things we have on a regular weekly basis like ballet and kinder and which days the girls have show and tell and sport etc.

It’s nothing too fancy but if you click on the image above it will open the pdf file in your browser ready to print, or if that isn’t working for you then click here to download the file via 4shared.

Edited to add – You can now get my monthly menu plan grid with the weeks starting on a Sunday for those who have requested it. Download the Sunday version here.

Do you menu plan?
Do you have any great tips for making it work and avoiding a million little trips to the shops?

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{ 46 comments }

Kate March 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I NEED TO DO THIS!

Sorry caps excited lol.

Pixie March 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm

how funny..I did a very similar thing y’day….only mine is just a list.
Great minds think alike!!!!

katef March 8, 2011 at 11:40 am

I think a list works really well… just cross off the meals as you have them. If our lives were a little more predictable (in terms of what days we have what on) I reckon I’d totally go with that method.

Kylie March 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm

In a perfect world I menu plan … hmm I so wish it was a perfect world, I hate going to the shops so often!

Sarah Lyford March 7, 2011 at 5:35 pm

just what I need!

I would love to do a monthly shop at costco, then just do a weekly top up of fresh/local stuff. That is my ideal set-up, I’m working on it : ) Currently getting by with a big weekly shop at coles but it all fell in a heap last week…fourth baby over here too! I had a good run for about 3 weeks, but then life gets in the way…at least it means I had a stash of frozen leftovers to use tonight – do NOT feel like cooking on this randomly hot Melbourne day!

your template encouraged me to dust myself off and get back into it! thanks Kate!

katef March 8, 2011 at 11:42 am

When our fourth was born all planning and organisation went out the window for a while… but he’s 8 months now and I’m slowly starting to get new systems going that are working for our family of 6. Give yourself some time… you’ll get there!

Oh and I’m very jealous about Costco… have plans to get a membership and make a big trip in once a while, but only when we have a new kitchen and somewhere to store it all!

Super Sarah March 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Yup, I meal plan! I just introduced my Meal Plan Monday on my blog too, to encourage me to stick to it. I plan the week’s meals in advance and shop accordingly, I make sure I have everything I need for the meals plus snacks, lunches etc and usually manage to get away with just one shop and prehaps a quick trip for some fresh fruit once a week. I am just sitting down now to make this week’s plan, would love to know whats on rotation at your house!

katef March 8, 2011 at 11:47 am

On the menu this week…

Last night was cold chicken and salad (we had visitors and ballet till late).
Tonight I am making Triangles (http://picklebums.com/2008/03/03/cheap-and-easy-beef-and-veggie-triangles/)
Tomorrow pizza.
Thursday Special Spag bol made by my lovely friend and popped in my freezer while my DH was in hospital.
Friday – Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Saturday – we are at a wedding
Sunday… I have no idea!?!? LOL

Kate @ UpsideBackwards March 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

It sounds like you and I do almost exactly the same thing – except my menu plan is weekly. But I have a list of meals we’re currently enjoying and swap around the meals/days at need. I work part-time, so I need to have nearly-instantaneous meals ready for the kids (at least) on the days we don’t get home until after 5:30. It’s much easier if I don’t have to dream something up on the way home!
Now we have another freezer and can store more, I think we should try to extend our menu to fortnightly, and see whether we can reduce our shopping trips as well.
Since kitchen renovations I’ve lost my whiteboard – your print-out calendar will be great for my fridge! We have several activities in each week, I’m going to forget one of them one of these days for sure…

Deb G March 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I need this too! I’ve tried several templates before, but none as pretty as this one. :)

I’m hopeless though, great at writing a plan, not great at the follow-through. Maybe this time it will work!

RachM March 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I do menu plan, but I’ve recently changed the order i.e instead of planning before I shop, I’m trying to go to the farmer’s market, buy what’s fresh and then plan a week’s worth of meals from that. I also have limited storage so a weeks worth has our fridge and cupboards bursting!

katef March 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

I love the idea of shopping the farmers market and then planning… but I am not sure I could pull it off without heaps of waste. Instead I try to work out what is in season at various times of the year, what is growing in our garden and plan in advance that way.

Oh and I so hear you about the bulging cupboards, we have no storage either and end up stacking things up in very strange spots, like the linen cupboard is full of pasta LOL

Sarah March 8, 2011 at 5:29 am

I use to be good with menu planning but these days…..
Actually the whole being organised needs some work.

I try to do a big shop once a month then get top ups once a week, but it doesnt always work out like that.

Thanks for the menu plan

Kelly B March 8, 2011 at 10:34 am

Thank you! Brilliant!

cate March 8, 2011 at 10:48 am

I, too, am good at list making, but suck at follow-through… life usually gets in the way, resulting in constant trips to the shop, although I am getting pretty good at buying for two or three days at a time so I don’t need to shop every day…

Alissa March 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Oh I’ve been looking for a cute one just like this! Thanks!

Annie March 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I’ve been following your blog for awhile, but I had to leave a comment to say thank you for the meal planner! I make a weekly meal list/shopping list and stick to it. But this will be so much prettier on my fridge than the scrap paper that is stuck up there right now. Love your blog Kate!

Annie

katef March 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Maybe I should do a weekly version? What would you include on a weekly version? space for each meal? a place to write notes/shopping list?? I’ll have more space to play with on a weekly version.

Annie March 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I’d still have a calendar week plus a fair bit of space to write the list. I like to have the meals on the same sheet as the list so that while I am at the grocery store, I can look at the meals and make sure I haven’t forgotten everything. Otherwise, I forget what I even planned on making!

Aunty Sarah March 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I’ve loved the idea of one of these ever since seeing something similar in Kikki K’s, however the tiny cupboard storage space in our kitchenette and tiny fridge means I tend to shop every week for perishables and keep a minimum non-perishable food on hand anyway.
Our list lives on the side of a fridge (old A5 pad hung with magnetised mini-pegs, thanks to MSB) and we add stuff we run out of during the week and I try to think up 7 day menus (minus social commitments) when I come to check the list before heading out shopping, then add fruit, breakfast and other healthy snacks,subtract things i know are in the freezer or cupboard to round the list out.
A weekly plan sounds like a great idea kate can’t wait to see what it looks like :-)

Valerie March 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

What a cute template you’ve made. My 7 year old daughter says she loves the colors I’m a Mom of 7, with 4 still at home, and I love having a menu plan. I don’t always stick to it, but it helps to plan ahead, then have the option of changing things around if I feel like it. When I realized I was out of my usual blank calendars, I googled blank menu calendar, and I’m so glad I did, because I found yours. Thanks for posting it. I look forward to following your blog.

katef March 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Sounds like you menu plan just like I do… a rough idea of what’s going to happen with lots of room to move and change!
I’m glad you found the printable useful!

Fussy Eater's Mum April 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Living on a farm I am not able to make multiple trips to the shops, so some sort of plan is critical to avoid beans on toast every fourth day. I dislike menu planning because our local shop doesn’t always have all the ingredients required. And when I try to menu plan while shopping, distractions by the Darlings make this nearly impossible. I end up coming home to make lasagne and realise I forgot the lasagne sheets! But you are so right, menu planning saves money and stress.

Jessica July 7, 2011 at 6:50 am

Okay so I’m probably ages late on this but it’s just so pretty and simple! Perfect. :)

Marla Hestilow August 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

Kate, this monthly menu planner is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I like to have a calendar page (just like this one) to work out which meals we’ll be having for about two weeks at a time. (It goes along with our pay schedule.) Once I’ve settled on the meals and which days we’ll be eating them, I go to my graphics program and make a fun, customized menu that I post on my refrigerator. This template is a fantastic working model for me to pencil in my meals and erase them and move them around if need be. Love…love…love it!!!! Thank you so much! Marla

LaChina August 7, 2011 at 1:30 am

Hi- I was looking for new ideas for my monthly meal plan and found your site. I like it. Once a month I surround myself with cookbooks and magazines, and make a list of the meals I plan to make, along with the location. I try to keep the dishes seasonal, for example:

Grilled Flank Steak with Yellow Chile Sauce & Peruvian Mashed Potatoes – CAH (Cusine at Home Magazine) 6/11 (month and year) p39
Chilled Carrot Soup with Cumin and Lime- BA (Bon Apetit) 8/98 w/Crab and Tomato Quesadillas BA 8/98
Reuben Sandwich CIA p 137
Tortilla Chip Chicken with Dip and Cole Slaw CAH 8/05 p 35
Pasta w/Peas and Lemon RSMME p40

I keep the books/magazines I’m going to use that month in the kitchen for quick reference. The menu is just a simple word doc and I add cute pictures relevant to the month or my activities for the month. For example for July, the title is in yellow and I have a picture of flip flops. (It’s a bit cheesy, but fun) I print it out in color and post on the fridge. Then once a week, based on my schedule I choose a few dishes and write up a list and head to the store. In general I keep a grocery list going as I cook each day and add to it. Eventually I do one large shop and then go back every 7-10 days.

My menu is mostly dinner entrees, but I want to start adding more side dishes, snacks, lunches, baked goods, drinks etc….but maybe not, too much planning is stressful. Sometimes it fun to wing it.

Netta January 3, 2012 at 3:03 am

Hi, this is the exact kind of template that I was looking to use this year. THANK YOU for making it available.
Happy New year!

christina clarke January 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Thankyou so much for the planner Kate – exactly what I have been searching for.
My daughter in law, a friend and I are going to get a single membership between us at Costco and ‘make a day of it’ and divvy up our purchases so the storage is not such an issue, maybe a couple of mums nearby could think of doing the same?

Beth February 11, 2012 at 11:31 am

Hey sweet
Was trying to download your menu planner (thankyou thankyou thankyou) and it’s telling me there is an error is anyone else having trouble or is it at my end??
Just found you and love your sight!!

katef February 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm

So sorry you’ve have trouble downloading the menu plan. I’ve added an alternative link to it at 4shared that you might try – http://www.4shared.com/office/8z-pFup3/picklebums_monthlymenuplan.html

If you are still having problems let me know and I’ll email it to you. :)

Suzanne April 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I love this calendar template! It’d be even better if it was in high quality.

katef April 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm

If you click on the image it will open a high res printable pdf of the planner.

Steph July 4, 2012 at 6:54 am

Thank YOU!!! This is exactly what I’ve needed and I didn’t want to have to spend the two hours creating it for my perfectionist self! :) Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Emily July 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

I know you have posted this a long time ago – but we still appreciate it! It’s a great printable. I love having the spaces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks. So many times I will buy things to make a special muffin or granola bar then I forget. The extra space helps me to keep track of that. I have used this plan many times and will continue to use it. Thanks a bunch! :)

Shauna July 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I love your template. Is there anyway to make the week start on a Sunday instead of Monday without printing it out and cutting and pasting it? We always have ours start on a Sunday and it throws dh off when he glances at the calendar.

katef July 31, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Hi Shauna,

Thanks for asking about a monthly plan that starts on a Sunday… I am sure lots of other people would like that too (I just always feel if I start the calendar on a Sunday then I miss out on half the weekend LOL!).

I’ve added a new version on the monthly menu plan which has the weeks start on a Sunday – you can download it here http://picklebums.com/images/printables/picklebums_monthlymenuplan_Sunday.pdf

Christina August 24, 2012 at 4:27 am

Im so looking forward to trying this out. Im hoping it saves me money and time planning. I have 2 kids and Im getting ready to go back to school. I have such a hard time getting ideas for dinner each night this way Ill have it planned out and we can just cook whats planned. PLUS I can do shopping all in advanced for the majority of the stuff and just get the milk, bread stuff like that when needed.
Im also hoping this will help me with my kids lunchs as well. THANK YOU for your help.

Chelsea August 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Thanks so much for the template! I plan on using it in conjunction with the weekly and monthly flyers. Ex. I want to plan a menu for September using the items that I buy on sale in August. Of course fresh food will be a bit different but at least it is a start!

charmaine September 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Hi there:) I menu plan too. I go through my fridge and freezer, make a list of what i already have and plan my meals from that.

Every now and again i may have something i didn’t use in the week before so that gets written down and i source a recipe to use that ingredient. This week it is ricotta, so i’m thinking a vegetarian lasange as i also have some eggplant to use.

I often also add a new recipe and buy the ingredients for that as i love trying new stuff. I am also trying for us to eat more whole foods and lentils and legumes so there are new recipes there to try.

Thankyou for you menu plan, i usually write them up on a big white board weekly and it sits on my bench. Very handy so everyone could see what we were having and shock horror! if they decided to make a start on tea then they knew what i had planned:) Now it seems to just be me cooking again so i might give your version a go:)

Clare November 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm

This is fantastic!!! I’ve really been wanting to get a monthly menu plan underway too. I’m so sick of going back and forth from the shops ALL THE TIME. Thought I was the only one, but looks like everyone is on the same wheel as me LOL. This template is just great!

Time to get planning!!

Kate January 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Thanks for the printable, love it!

Kirpi March 2, 2013 at 12:12 am

Thanks, I love this happy planner!

Lindsay March 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

Thank you for this! I’m finally working toward some real meal planning, and this printable is perfect!

Samantha May 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Thanks for this! I kept trying to make my own, and I am SOOO not good at this kind of stuff. Finally decided to see if I could find something online, and this is perfect! Thanks again!

Shelia S September 19, 2013 at 5:04 am

Love the simplicity of this calendar and the colors!

Tammy March 6, 2014 at 3:48 am

Thank you! I printed off your original calendar that started on Monday, and absolutely loved it. Simple, cute, to the point. Except I think Sun-Sat, so I kept getting confused. Just downloaded the Sunday version – off to create a kick*ss meal plan for my family!

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