LORNA LEIGH LANE

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How to meal plan for a month or even longer {and a free printable}

The hardest part of meal planning is getting into position: you need to sit down with your planner, your recipes, your shopping list, your supermarket special catalogue and have the time and focus to spend doing it. But once you're there, it doesn't take much more time to plan for the fortnight, for the month, or even for the entire school term. Here's how you do it...



SET UP A MEAL ROUTINE

Setting up a meal routine will make the whole process much easier, whether you're planning for a week or a month. In short, to create a meal routine, you look at what you have on during a typical week and plan meal 'themes' around those activities.


For more information on how to set up a meal routine, you can read this post.


Or if you just need some ideas for your meal routines, you can read this post.


When planning for a month or more, it helps to keep the themes broad. For instance, instead of Lamb Korma every Wednesday night, you might just put "Curry" and vary it every other week.


Click here to download a free printable Meal Routine to complete first.



PRINT YOUR MONTHLY MEAL PLAN

Print out your Monthly Meal Plan template if you intend to meal plan for a month or print two if you intend to plan by school term.

Or if you choose to meal plan by fortnight, simply print out two of the Weekly Meal Plan templates which you can get download for free here.


FILL IN YOUR MEAL PLAN

With your Meal Routine as a guide, and taking into account in-season produce and store specials, fill in your meal plan:


1 | Check your planner

Look at the events in your planner that will determine certain meals. For instance, if you're going to be out of the house for some meals, put those notes into your meal plan so you know you don't need to plan for that meal. Or if there's a party at your place, note those meals as well.


2 | Add the easy ones

For those meals that are set in stone, like pizza every Friday night, write those down.


3 | Get some help

Let each family member choose a couple of meals each to add so that they feel they're involved and gives you a rest from coming up with ideas.


4 | Be kind to yourself

Can you allocate one meal a week to leftovers or something super simple like eggs on toast? It gives you a night off or near enough to a night off.


5 | Fill in the first two weeks

Now fill in the rest of the gaps for the first week using your Meal Routine to help you. Then repeat for the second week but you can make some variations if you like: if you have roast chicken on Sunday in week one, have roast lamb on Sunday in week two.


6 | Fill in the next two weeks

Now it gets easy: fill in the gaps in weeks three and four with the same meals from weeks one and two. Again, you can make some variations on meals or repeat the exact same meals. If you keep them the same, you can plan to cook double quantities of each meal and freeze them for the next time.


And that's a meal plan for a month. If you then want to then meal plan for the term, it will only take a few more minutes - simply follow steps one to four above and then, when you need to fill in the gaps, repeat the meals from the first four weeks into the next four weeks.


And you're done! Stick your Meal Plan on the fridge to keep track of your meals and once a week, sit down to check that your meals still fit in with your plans for your week; if something comes up you can change things around but it takes away the difficulty of trying to come up with something to cook, day in day out for ages. Bliss!


Happy meal planning!

Loloma

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