5 easy steps to plan and shop for a month's worth of meals

5 Easy Steps to Plan and Shop for a Month’s Worth of Meals

This article includes tips and tricks for how to plan meals for a month as well as a printable monthly meal planner and grocery list pdfs.

I’m very excited to share my monthly meal planner and grocery list with all of you. Whether you’re a busy worker, mom, or wife, planning your meals ahead of time and shopping in bulk will save you time and money.

5 easy steps to plan and shop for a month's worth of meals

Can you shop in bulk even without a big family? YES! I use to think it didn’t make sense for us, but I was quickly proven wrong. When I got a deal on a BJ’s membership I realized shopping in bulk can save time and money for anyone. You just have to be strategic about what you buy and how you store it.

If you don’t have a plan in place you’ll probably end up wasting more money than you’re saving.

While I’m specifically going to be talking about how I plan and shop for a month’s worth of meals, these tips would be useful to take and transform into your own routine.

Maybe shopping once a week makes more sense for you. I still urge you to read through my tips because you’ll probably still get some good ideas on how to plan and shop efficiently and cost-effectively.

Eat or Drink’s Monthly Meal Planner and Grocery List Printable PDFs

If you don’t have a printer handy you can honestly just create a calendar on a blank piece of paper. That’s actually what I use to do for a long time. But to provide a visual example I did create these printable PDFs.

Click here to print Eat or Drink’s Monthly Meal Planner

monthly meal planner printable pdf

Click here to print Eat or Drink’s Grocery List

organized printable grocery list eat or drink

How to Print these PDFs

Click the links above and then select File -> print at the top of your internet browser menu bar then follow the correct prompts for your printer. You can also just hit File -> Save to keep these PDFs on your computer for future use.

5 Easy Steps to Plan and Shop for a Month’s Worth of Meals

Using the printable meal planner and grocery list provided above, this is how I plan and shop for a month’s worth of meals.

This is how meal planning and grocery shopping works for my family, but I understand everyone is different. While I hope these tips will be valuable to everyone, don’t feel like your process has to be the exact same as mine.

monthly meal planner template pdf

1) Plan Your Meals on a Monthly Meal Planner

If you’re going to save time, money, and future headaches, you need to start planning meals. It will give you more focus when it’s time to shop, and it will save you from getting stumped when it’s time to cook.

A Few Meal Planning Tips

  1. GET A FREE MEAL CALENDAR: Print out your own copy of my Monthly Meal Planner.
  2. GET IDEAS: I like to browse Pinterest, Instagram, or my favorite blogger’s sites to get ideas and meal inspiration. If you want some meal ideas right now check out my dinner recipes or list-style blog posts here.
  3. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR FAV MEALS: In addition to getting new meal ideas from Pinterest, I keep a running list on my fridge of our favorite meals. Sometimes your mind goes blank so having a list like this makes it easy to plan.
  4. DON’T WASTE: If you already have ingredients in your freezer, fridge, or pantry try to include meals at the beginning of the month that will use those up.
  5. BASE IT ON YOUR SCHEDULE: Think about how often you want to leave days for leftovers, nights out, or when guests are coming. This will help you shop for the proper quantities.
  6. NOTHING IS SET IN STONE: Understand that it’s ok to switch things around later. This meal planner is simply a guide.

2) Determine Your Budget for Groceries

If one of your goals in meal planning and bulk shopping is to save money, you need to know your MONTHLY grocery budget. If you would like to know more about how I determine my budget, let me know in the comments below.

To ensure you don’t lose sight of your budget while grocery shopping, I included a spot to write in your budget on the Eat or Drink printable grocery list.

3) How much do you expect to spend on the BIG HAUL?

Realistically you probably can’t buy EVERYTHING you’ll need for an entire month in one grocery shopping trip. Especially if you want to eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. That’s why I break my grocery budget into 2 categories. First I account for my BIG HAUL. Then I account for the weekly/biweekly grocery trips where I’ll be purchasing a few fresh items.

Let’s Break Down the BIG HAUL vs. Weekly Shopping

Let me walk you through MY normal shopping routine so you can better understand how to divide your grocery budget.

  1. CREATE ROUGH LIST: I normally create one big grocery list (that hasn’t been sorted) of everything I’ll need for all the meals I have planned. This list will be a messy brain dump of everything I need.
  2. ORGANIZE GROCERY LIST: On my monthly grocery list, I’ll write down all the things that will last the month either in the freezer or pantry.
    Then to the left of my meal planner, next to each week I’ll jot down fresh items that I’ll need to get (this is step 5).
  3. SHOP FOR THE BIG HAUL: When it’s time to shop I’ll usually go to Costco and/or Walmart for the BIG HAUL (aka the items for the entire month).
  4. WEEKLY SHOPPING: Then each week (or every other week) I’ll either go to Aldi’s, Wegmans, or a Farmer’s Market for my produce and other fresh items.

For my family of 3, I need to leave about $20 for my weekly spending. This means about 20% of my grocery budget should be set aside for the individual weeks. The remaining 80% can then be spent on my Big Haul. If I have leftover after my big grocery shopping trip, I can either save it for next month or use it towards my weekly spending.

Obviously this exact breakdown will be different for everyone, but I wanted to give you an idea of what we do and why we do it.

4) Make Big Haul Grocery List

I already got into this process above under step 3, so I won’t get too redundant here. Obviously you can make a grocery list on any old sheet of paper. However, I find when doing such a big shopping trip it does help to have the list organized.

The less time you spend bouncing through aisles trying to find things, the less chance of buying unneeded items.

5) Jot down Fresh Items for Each Week

As I said above under step 3, part of my process does include buying fresh items every week or every other week. I like to keep a mini list of items I’ll need for meals next to my calendar. It helps me remember what I still need for that week’s meals that I couldn’t buy during the Big Haul.

Do you have any more questions?

That’s all for this blog post. If you want me to expand or clarify any parts of my meal planning and grocery shopping please leave a comment down below! This is a topic that I’ll probably write more about in the future, but knowing your thoughts will help me create the best post possible.

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