woman planning meal

Creating a meal plan is the key to making delicious, healthy meals!

Are you new to meal planning? If so, you’ll soon find that getting organized is an absolute must to create a successful meal plan. And in this series of templates and tips, we’ll help you do just that!

Using Templates to Create Your Meal Plans

The below template is used to plan out your meals for every day of the week, and every week of the month. This allows you to grocery shop in advance, buy in bulk, and do much of the prep work for your meals ahead of time. Of course, this makes dinner much easier to put together, especially when you have whining kids and a hungry hubby at home.

But there are a number of things to consider when you decide to plan your meals by the month.

Preparing for Seasonal Meals

When planning in advance, it’s important to take note of what will be in season. And if you’re shopping locally (we hope you are!), this becomes even more important. For example, a December menu would include winter greens like Brussels sprouts, watercress and kale, as well as winter squash, cranberries and citrus fruit. This is a stark contrast to a June menu which would include tomatoes, eggplant, collards, melons and berries. Let the seasons be your guide and check out our list of seasonal foods to include on your meal plan here.

Planning for Appropriate Meal Sizes and Servings

Does your daughter detest meat and feast on fruit?  Before you jump into the meal plan process, it is important to take a good look at how much food (and what types) each member of your family eats. Of course, it will be a guesstimate and may change over time if you have growing children (or want to shrink a dress size). But a good general rule of thumb is 4-6 ounces of protein-based foods, 1-1.5 cups non-starchy vegetables and 1/2 cup starchy vegetables or carb-rich foods (like brown rice) per person per meal, plus 1 serving of fruit per meal and snack.

Planning for Meal Repetition and Leftovers

Not planning for leftovers is one of the biggest drains on your meal plan budget.

Suffice it to say that creating your plan with leftovers in mind will save you a lot of time and money. For example, on Monday night you make 6 servings of chili. There are four people in your family, so the two additional servings go into the kids lunchboxes for Tuesday. That’s smart meal planning! But if you’re like most people, the chili gets lost in the back of the fridge, never to be eaten. The cost of that one lost leftover? $2.50. Over time you can see how this would add up and eat into your budget.

These are just a few things to consider when getting started with the process and using the template.  You’ll find the full-sized version of the below meal planning template plus how to plan for leftovers and save money on the healthiest foods in Meal Plans 101 – Yours FREE when you sign up for our newsletter (to the right).

meal planning template for the month