Menu Plan Monday: Planning Meals Out- A Month At A Time!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Hi!! Happy Monday!!
How was your weekend??
We had no set plans- which was WONDERFUL. We ran our usual errands- but also made it to the park on Saturday afternoon and played a ton outside on Sunday too! 
We also did a little organizing and got some things out for the new baby- the kids were SO excited when Aaron brought up the pack 'n' play and bouncy seat from the basement!!!
And now we are back to Monday and the start of March- TOMORROW!
March is definitely a full month for us- between several school activities for the girls, celebrating St. Patrick's Day, celebrating Easter AND Aaron and I celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary at the end of the month! Throw in me getting more and more pregnant- and well- I would be lying if I didn't say this month might tire me out just a smidge :) trying to be prepared for March- I am doing something new in regard to how I plan our weekly dinner menu.  I am printed off a cute March 2016 calendar (you can find it here!) and I filled it in with meal ideas for the whole month!
So here are some ideas I had for the various "nights" I have planned out:

Sunday- Grill Out: Marinated Chicken (plus a veggie and some kind of potato or pasta side), cheeseburgers (plus a veggie plus french fries or tator tots), turkey burgers (same sides/veggie as cheeseburgers), hot dogs (plus steamed veggie and mac 'n' cheese), turkey sausage (plus veggie and mashed potatoes)

Monday- Italian Night: Meatball subs (plus a green salad or cut up fresh veggies), spaghetti and meatballs (plus a green salad), Alfredo pasta with chicken (plus broccoli), spiral pasta with meat sauce (plus a salad and garlic bread)

Tuesday-Taco Night: ground beef tacos in crunchy taco shells, shredded chicken tacos (using crockpot salsa chicken recipe found here), bean and cheese burritos, "Chipotle" burrito bowls, taco salads- using chicken or ground beef/turkey

Wednesday- Try a New Recipe!! This is where I am going to challenge myself a little bit (and my family) and try out a few meals that we haven't had before :) For March- I have it planned out that I will try 4 new recipes- that is my GOAL :) If our week ends up getting crazy- I may just default to one of our "go-to" meals- but my hope is that I am trying out at least one new recipe a week!

Thursday- Leftovers: Pretty self explanatory :) After cooking meals from Sunday - Wednesday- we should have a pretty good stash of leftovers in the fridge. I can't STAND wasting food AND having leftovers gives me a night "off" cooking! 

Friday- Meatless Meal Night- Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Salads: As Catholics, we abstain from eating meat on Friday's during Lent- so every Friday during the month of March is super simple. I plan on making our favorite potato soup and freezing it for our Friday night dinners- but I also want to make a hearty vegetable soup too! I like to make our grilled cheese a little more fun by getting different cheeses like gouda, muenster, and pepper jack. Obviously if you eat meat on Friday's- this meal idea still can totally work for you! Just get a bunch of deli meat and a big loaf of Italian bread and make some sandwiches to go with a big pot of soup. I love having easy, casual meals planned for Friday- when all you really want to do is kick back and RELAX!

Saturday- Pizza Night: Again- self explanatory :) But I am a firm believer everyone needs a weekly pizza night on their meal plan :) For me- it is totally a night "off" cooking as the girls have a frozen cheese pizza (ain't no shame in my game! :) and Aaron makes his own pizza using a thin crust pizza kit from Aldi. I usually have a big salad. The kids and Aaron LOVE pizza night and look forward to it all week! I know a lot of people like to go out once a week-  instead of pizza- this could be that night for you! 
I know for a lot of people- weekly meal planning can seem "overwhelming." And I totally get that- I feel that way a lot of the time I sit down and try to think of 7 different meals I am going to make our family! Looking at your meal planning from a "month's" perspective might work better in the fact it gives you an idea of the meals you will be making- but there is also a lot of flexibility in that you don't have to come up with 31 specific recipes.
Also- I think this is a great way to help keep your monthly food budget in check- because at the beginning of the month- you already have an idea of what you will be making. So- if you see ground beef on sale- you can pick up several pounds of it- knowing you will be having multiple Italian nights and Taco nights- where you can use that ground beef in your meals!

So- I have this little area under one set of my kitchen cabinets where I have a strip of cork board- I have my monthly meal planned pinned up there and ready to go- and I have to tell you- it feels SO good to have a "road map" of what we will be eating this month!
This is my little "command center" in the kitchen :) I use a Plum Paper Planner- and I have the Meal Planner edition (I LOVE IT!!!). My planner also has a monthly calendar view- but the reason I didn't use it to plan out my meals is because I already have a lot of other things written on it. So- I decided to just go with a separate "meal calendar" for this month. 
Every week, I will write down our meals- and the specific meals I am making in my weekly calendar.
(Forgive me for this extremely yellowish picture- I took it this morning while it was still pitch black outside and the only lighting I had was our lovely overhead kitchen light:)

So what do you think?? Is planning out your meals, a month at a time, something that might work for you? Do you already do this? I am excited to give it a try! If I feel like it "works" for me- it will definitely be something I keep up with- if not- back to regular ol' weekly meal planning!  

And just a quick, friendly reminder- I am teaming up with Erica and Leigh for our monthly link up – Pinspiration Wednesday!  Our next link up is THIS Wednesday- March 2! The topic is: Favorite Easter/Spring D├ęcor and/or Favorite Easter Recipes! So start pinning those favorite Easter and Spring ideas now and plan on sharing them with us on this Wednesday! :)

I am linking up with Laura today!

I hope you have the BEST day!!


  1. I really really love this idea of monthly meal planning. I have attempted meal planning so many times but it's always a fail. Brians work schedule is always up in the air, and I work crazy hours/days. When it's getting close to dinner time I always stress out about what to make but then I meal plan and make a nice big meal and Brian gets called into work! LOL It's a stressful thing for me to say the least. All of your monthly options sound sooo good! Maybe we'll just come to your house for dinner each night! haha Have a great Monday, Justine!!

  2. Okay, first Kid #1, #3 and #4 are spitting images of each other - your second daughter (sorry don't know all their names yet) has a different look, am I right?! So cute! I love your monthly planning of food - I am sure that will help so much in your busy month and as you get closer to your due date!! xoxo

  3. I love the idea of monthly meal planning! I think I will give it a try for April. Our March is already looking kind of crazy with a spring break vacation thrown into the mix. I always have a similar pattern in my meal planning...a leftovers night and a pizza night. I like the idea of the meatless night too. Have a happy Monday!

  4. For this month, I jotted down enough dinner ideas for all of February and I think we ended up only making half of the list. Putting it on a printout is great idea, because half way through the month I stopped looking at my list tucked away in my planner. I'm definitely trying this for March!! Great idea!

  5. I love your plan for the month! I've always wanted to try out themes like Taco Tuesday and pizza night. Seems like a fun way to have some direction for the night. I also like the idea of having a set day of the week to try a new recipe. Smart thinking! I'm going to have to file this idea away for me to try. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. I love the monthly plan, mainly because I dread menu planning every Sunday and this would reduce that. Thanks!

    1. Sarah- I was totally starting to dread meal planning too! That's why I am hoping this monthly plan works better for me!! :)

  7. How do you do your marinated chicken? Always looking for something my 5 and 3 year old will eat.

    1. Hey! I just put a couple chicken breasts in a ziploc baggie and do a mix of italian salad dressing and ranch dressing! I just do a few generous "squirts" of each of them and then let the chicken sit in the fridge for a few hours. The mix of the two dressings give the chicken good flavor- but nothing too overpowering :)

  8. Thanks! I will try this. :) LOVE that I found your blog!

  9. Last question... :D How do you make your Chipotle bowls? I think my kiddos would LOVE this!


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