This year, I’m trying to meal plan a month in advance. I love meal planning, but find I often get stuck in a rut. Fajitas and pasta are my go-tos! So this year, I’ve created a template meal plan for a whole month, which I’m then using as the basis for my meal planning. I’m going to share my template with you to help you to meal plan for a whole month.
Here’s how to meal plan for a whole month using a template
Firstly, I made a list of 28 meals that we generally enjoy. Here’s our list:
- Roast dinner
- Pasta (cooked on stove)
- Baked pasta (cooked in oven)
- Baked potatoes
- Pie made with pastry
- Pie made with mashed potato (e.g shepherd’s pie)
- Meat/fish with herb sauce and potatoes
- Chinese sauce and rice
- Thai sauce and rice
- Stir fry
- Rice-based dish (e.g. paella)
- Baked fish and vegetables
- Chicken with sauce
Why use a template for meal planning?
Quite simply, I get bored! Here, I’ve got 28 dishes that are generally pretty varied – as long as there’s some planning. Yes, you could theoretically have an Indian curry, a Thai curry and a Chinese curry in one month (my husband wouldn’t complain). But without this, I’d forget about Thai food, or Indian food, and we’d end up with sweet chilli salmon, vegetables and noodles every week.
Meal planning like this also ensures we get a varied diet, but can eat seasonally. For example, one of my favourite recipes is Jamie Oliver’s Fish tray bake with salsa verde. It’s from the 30 minute meals book, but this is the closest I can find on his website: Roasted Salmon Traybake.
This would probably come under 11 (Meat/Fish with herb sauce and potatoes) or 16 (Traybake). However, I can vary the fish (Salmon, White Fish, Trout and Sea Bass would all work well), very the herbs in the sauce (Mint, Basil and Parsley in the Spring and Summer, Coriander for an Asian flavour, Tarragon or Thyme for something different), and vary the kinds of potatoes.
I should add that the template isn’t rigid! The order above is the order I’ve thought of things. I’d always shuffle things around so that we get variety, and so that I have easier meals on my workdays. Equally, if I really want to plan to have, for example, a roast dinner twice in a month, of course I can do that! The template is there to spark inspiration, rather than be a straightjacket.
How to use the monthly meal planning template
Firstly, I made a generic calendar – Monday to Sunday, 4 weeks. You can find it in my Resource Library. Then, working through, I popped the meal titles in. I chose quick and easy meals for my working days, and meals which work well in the slow cooker for days when I’m at home – I can prepare them easily while Samuel naps. I now have a template for every single month.
The best thing is, you can do this too. I’ve put a template in the Resource Library. You just need to pop your email into the pop up box – or in the box below – and you will get the password.Oh no...This form doesn't exist. Head back to the manage forms page and select a different form.
How I’ve used the template for January
For me, January is a month of simple, warming food, after the excesses of Christmas. As many of us are keeping a closer eye on the pennies, it’s also a month of using up bits and pieces. We have a lot of Christmas cheese still in our fridge! So here are my meal plans for the month:
- Roast beef
- Cottage pie (using leftover beef)
- Spaghetti bolognese (also leftover beef)
- Chicken casserole (in the slow cooker)
- Chicken and Mushroom pie (use leftover chicken casserole as pie filling)
- Malaysian Sweet Potato curry (New recipe)
- Warm Tuna, green beans and potato salad
- Baked potatoes with cheesy bacon filling (Quick and easy on work night)
- Supermarket fishcake (Work night)
- Cajun chicken with sweet potatoes and sweetcorn salsa
- Marmite chicken ramen
- Pizza (Friday night)
- Thai prawn and coconut rice (New recipe)
- Pork chop, root veg and apple traybake
- Portobello mushroom burger (Quick and easy on a work night)
- Salmon with salsa verde and potato wedges (Work night)
- Stilton mac and cheese
- Sausage Potato Bake
- Frittata with bits and pieces from the fridge! (Work night)
- Prawn and chorizo paella
- Chilli with nachos
- French onion soup with leftover Christmas cheese (Work night)
- Baked fish (whatever is on offer) and vegetables (Work night)
- Butternut squash and bacon risotto
- Haggis with neeps and tatties (Burns night – although I’ll do sausages for the kids)
- Sweet orange chicken with broccoli
- Duck with Savoy Cabbage (This is a lovely recipe that I’d totally forgotten about.)
- Mediterranean Meze with flatbreads, olives etc.
Find more inspiration on Pinterest
I’ve actually got a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Winter Meal Ideas, so do pop over and follow me there. If you’ve enjoyed learning how to meal plan for a whole month, do Pin this post to your own Pinterest boards too.