365 Day Meal Plan with Free Templates & Grocery List

In 2012 I started planning my meals for a year in advance. It has saved us over $4,000 each year! That’s a huge savings.

I know what you’re thinking. You could never plan that far in advance. That sounds boring and worse so time consuming!

Trust me I know this sounds CRAZY. I’m the person that always dreaded meal planning, but this system has made it SO much easier!

When you break your meal planning down into 4 weeks that repeat (with slight adjustments if you live somewhere with seasons) it seems more reasonable. That’s only 28 meals to plan. Then you think about the meals you already enjoy. For instance, do you always have tacos on Tuesday? That’s 4 done right there!

Keep reading to learn my meal planning advice and how you can save thousands of dollars on food without using coupons.

How to plan a year’s worth of meals

How simple would it be if you had a meal plan for the full year? So simple. Life would be easier! You might even find time to read that novel that’s been sitting on your bedside table for the last three months.

I know you don’t think it can be done, but it rather simple. I put together 4 weeks of meals and they will repeat over and over throughout the year with some minor tweaks. Like replacing roasts with salads or burgers on the grill in the summer.

I’m including my meal plan below in PDF format, as well as templates for you to use to make your own meal plan in the same format.

Steps to making a 365 day meal plan:

1. Identify the meals that are easy, and well-received by your family. I made a list of meals, and many of them repeat over and over. I’m ok with repetition since we can try a new recipe with an old standard to see how it’s received before I add it to the regular rotation. I also choose meat at most meals since we typically have meatless breakfast and dinners.

Meal Planning Tip:If your family is looking to save money on meals-go meatless for two or more meals a week for a huge cost savings.

2. Use my template to fill in the meals on a 4 week calendar. Make sure to include any activities that may interrupt dinnertime such as after school sports or evening activities. Meals on those nights should be simple to throw together or reheat if everyone is eating at different times.

3. Print it out, and you’re set!

I also put together a grocery list you can use-which is helpful week after week since you can repeat the same grocery list and over and over again.

Meal Planning Tip: Cereal or sandwiches count as dinner too! If an ER visit or crazy after school schedule keeps you from making dinner one night don’t toss the whole plan out-just serve some cereal or toasted peanut butter sandwiches for dinner and start again tomorrow.

Bonus! Find all of my meal plans (updated every week including a recap of how the meal plan went) by clicking through to the here.  For recipes, you can click the Recipe page.

Printable Meal Plan for 2015

2015 Menu Plan

 

Click Here to Download the Printable Menu Plan for 2015

 

Kelly

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About Kelly


Kelly Whalen is the founder and editor of the Centsible Life blog. She started the blog 6 years ago as her family faced a mountain of debt. The blog became a resource to readers and a hub for everything you need in life for less. Kelly lives in the Philadelphia area with her superhero husband, 4 awesome kids, and one adorable dog. She still believes you can have it all....just not all at once.


Comments

  1. Kirstin Smith says

    I am not able to download the menu plan or menu plan for 2014.. Any suggestions?? Thanks for sharing..

  2. Jackie Walters says

    Thanks Kelly for this great meal planning idea. We tend to cook the same meals and alternate them from week to week.

  3. says

    I made monthly meal plans for about 6 months before I figured this out :) I got my family to vote on their favourites and we slot those in regularly. Then my spouse and I each try 2 new recipes a month. Now that we are empty-nesters, we can have anything we like!

  4. Pam Margolis says

    this template and other resources are great helpers but what concerns me is that you’re “cooking” every night and to be honest, sometimes (hahaha all the time) i want a little break!

    • says

      On my own menu I don’t cook every night. 😉 One night is clean out the fridge night. Special occasions and celebrations I’ll definitely consider it.  

      Personally while I love the break too, I often find it’s not worth the value I get from buying takeout. I’d much rather spend on a special night out with my husband, or a girl’s night out than spending money on last minute takeout. 😉

  5. Misti says

    This is so awesome!   Thank you for sharing and I love that your menu is basic and everyday food. I plan on implementing your templates – it sure will help.

    • says

      Thanks Misti! I prefer ethnic and spicy food, but we try to keep it simple so our more ‘plain’ eaters can eat, and I can always add some pizazz with sauces, etc.

  6. Afford Anything says

    Meatless Mexican-themed food is my favorite quick-easy-healthy meal. I just keep a steady supply of black beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, rice and tortillas around — plus guacamole from CostCo (it’s cheap there). It can be combined a zillion different ways (soft tacos, burritos, hard tacos, quesadillas) and it’s healthy and cheap and it makes grocery shopping simple.

    • says

      Great tip! My kids love ‘mix night’ since everyone can have their own spin on Mexican food, but they still don’t like beans. Beans are a great way to save and go meatless though-so I may have to offer them more frequently. 😉

  7. Cristie Ritz King says

    This is so awesome of you to share. I just spent the day doing this yesterday. I finally tried (and am now obsessed with) Plan to Eat but if I’d found the KW Plan first I totally would have done that! Well done.  

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  1. […] 365 Day Meal Plan with Free Templates & Grocery List … – Check out the recap of 2012 and get brand new meal template printables for 2013 and a new template for 2014} Printable Meal Plan for 2014 … Meatless Mexican-themed food is my favorite quick-easy-healthy meal. I just keep a steady supply of black beans, cheese, … […]

  2. […] combination. I don’t wear a lot of skirts as it is, and I have only one pair of booties.365 Day Meal Plan :: The Centsible LifeI put together 4 weeks of meals and they will repeat over and over throughout […]

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