This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through one of these links, Penguins in Pink will receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
I like things easy and simple at home which is why I also try to have a plan for dinner… even if it is a loose one! 🙂 For a long time I struggled with planning a menu. I have tried numerous ways to get a menu set and it took a while to find my groove. Now that I have know what works for me I thought I’d share how to plan an monthly menu with you guys today.
After months of writing my menu on a sheet of notebook paper, I finally sat down to create a simple (and by simple I do mean simple! no need to waste excess ink here!) monthly menu printable. Because I like to keep things easy and reduce excess waste, I print my menus on both sides of the paper.
Why plan dinner?
Having a plan for dinner not only saves me money but time too. No longer do I wonder what we will have for dinner. No more proclamations of “I don’t care, you pick!” Nor do I have to answer the dreaded what’s for dinner question. 🙂 Okay, actually, I still get asked that question every day, but now I can respond with “what does the menu say?”
How does planning dinner save money?
Knowing what we are having for dinner stops us from resorting to picking up takeout every night or having frozen pizzas for dinner. Not that I have anything against frozen pizza! We have it occasionally, and if James had his way we’d have it even more often.
How does monthly meal planning save time?
I used to struggle with planning a menu for each day and with trying to remember what we liked or what we didn’t. It can be quite exhausting trying to plan a menu for 6 people, two of whom are toddlers who like something one day and refuse to eat it ever again the next.
At the beginning of the month, I sit down with my Monthly Menu and schedule in leftovers, dinners out, birthdays, anniversaries and any other time I will not be cooking. 🙂 Then I only have to plan dinners for the remaining days.
How to plan a monthly menu?
- Note any birthdays or anniversaries, then find out what the celebrants want for dinner and fill it in.
- In our family, for celebrations we are allowed to pick between homemade dinner or going out for dinner on birthdays and anniversaries.
- Schedule in holiday dinners if any – holiday dinners usually take more prep time and leave lots of leftovers. Try to plan a meat dish that can be used to make something else the next night. Like an Easter ham that gets reused in Cheesy Ham and Hashbrown Casserole or White Cheddar Ham and Spinach Quiche. Or a Thanksgiving turkey that gets made into sandwiches the next night.
- Schedule in leftovers next – we eat leftovers every four days, so the leftovers do not sit in the fridge too long nor do they go forgotten in the back of the fridge to become science experiments.
- Write in any dinners out or vacation days where you will not be home.
- In our house, I don’t cook on both weekend days, meaning if I cooks Saturday night then momma gets Sunday night off! We eat leftovers if they are scheduled, eat out, or someone else cooks. We also have takeout, go out to eat, or James gets his wish for frozen pizza at least once a week.
- Schedule crock pot days. On days when I know I will be out of the house later than 5 pm, I make it a crock pot night. The girls and I usually have one long outing a week, so those nights are crock pot nights.
- Ask for any requests. I always ask for input from the rest of the family for dinner ideas. James loves burgers and pizza so I try to add it to the menu at least once a month, even if it has to be a dinner out or take out night. He is a very odd guy because he prefers the frozen pizzas. Mmm, cardboard-y goodness! But at least he admits that he is in fact a “Pizza Monster. Om, nom, nom!”
- Fill in the remaining days. I plan for the meat first. We eat chicken twice a week, guaranteed. Beef, pork, and occasionally lamb fill in the remaining days. I like to space the meat out so we don’t eat chicken two days in a row. Then I plan one family favorite a week, like Sausage and Rice Casserole. For the remaining days, I use Gathered Table to suggest recipes to me.
I like using a meal planning service like Gathered Table (not an affiliate link, I just really like them) because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it for me. I have a general idea what we will be having because I planned for the meat and each week Gathered Table emails me the menu plan and I change it around if needed.
I created a simple monthly menu planner in both landscape and portrait printing options. You can find each one here:
I hope you find the menu planners helpful. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Do you plan a monthly menu?
Have a blessed day!
This post may or may not contain referral links. Please read my disclosure policy here.
Looking for more Kitchen Tips & Tricks? Check out my Housekeeping: Kitchen Tips & Tricks broad on Pinterest!