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.
Printable Meal Plan for 2015
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