Monthly Meal Planning for March

Planning menus for a month at a time is simpler than you think. And it helps you make the most of what you already have as well as anticipate good deals that might hit the grocery store shelves.

One of folks’ biggest objections to monthly meal planning is “How do you know what will be on sale?” Well, after a few years of watching the grocery sales like a hawk, I’ve become more in tune with what seasonal items will be offered at a lower price.

For instance, St Patrick’s Day is this month. That means that you’ll see “typical” St Patrick’s day fare on special. Think: cabbage, potatoes, corned beef, and imported Irish dairy products like butter and Dubliner cheese.

Since I have an inkling that these items will be on special in the next week or two, I can plan my menus around them, incorporating more cabbage into our salads, potatoes into our side dishes, and Dubliner into everything.

While we don’t care for corned beef, I can also keep my eyes open for a plain old brisket, a relatively expensive cut here on the West Coast. Weird, huh? Brisket in the Mid-west is like the Tri-tip of California: a bargain cut. Not so, here, though. One can always hope, though.

Planning out a month’s worth of meals is not too difficult. In fact, it helps me think through the month and helps me get through the daze with a relatively peaceful mind. This month, I found that I still had a lot in the freezer, so I was able to plan our meals from what we already had and spend my freezer cooking session on breakfast.

Here’s our meal plan for the month:

4. Mexican Tortas, Veggie Dippers

5. Burrito Bar

6. Soup Night, good bread

7. Herb-Crusted Pork Roast, Simple Dill Potatoes, Swiss Chard

8. Pasta Night, Easy Make Ahead Garlic Bread

9. Pizza Night, ChiChi’s Salad

10. Breakfast for Supper

11. Grilled Mediterranean Steak Salad

12. Quesadillas, Veggie Dippers

13. Soup Night, good bread

14. Herbed Butter Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Veg

15. Pasta Night, Garlic Foccacia

16. Pizza Night, Veggie Dippers

17. Irish Stew, Soda Bread, Dubliner

18. Asian Chicken Salad with Noodles

19. Simple Bean Tostadas

20. Soup Night, good bread

21. Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Lemon Roasted Potatoes, Veg

22. Pasta Night, Garlic Parmesan Swirl Biscuits

23. Pizza NightChiChi’s Salad

24. Breakfast for Supper

25. Shrimp and Tomatoes on Noodles, Veg, Buttermilk Cornbread

26. Beans and Rice, Fruit Salad

27. Soup Night, good bread

28. Carnitas Tacos, Mexican Rice, Seasoned Pinto Beans

29. Pasta Night, Drop Biscuits

30. Pizza NightVeggie Dippers

31. Chef’s Choice

What’s cooking at your house this week?

For more meal planning inspiration, visit Menu Plan Monday each week.

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Comments

  1. I normally don’t plan a month in advance but a week when I go grocery shopping. I adjust depending on what looks good and is affordable at the store.

    Great job planning way in advance!

  2. I totally agree about a monthly dinner plan; I’ve planned my dinners in advance for at least 25 years now. I originally did 1 weeks worth, was challenged to move to 2 a few years ago and subsequently moved to a month’s worth shortly thereafter. I “shop” my freezer and pantry first. The savings in meat alone makes this so worthwhile, financially. I then add in some lurkers that need to go, and am sure to vary our side dishes to avoid boredom. If I must use a stash of something up, i plan different recipes with that ingredient to keep it interesting. I find also that the kids no longer ask, “what’s for dinner?”-they can read my dinner menu calendar, inside the cabinet.

    See my monthly dinner plans on my blog: CTonabudget.blogspot.com -Just click on the link for “menus.”

    I would also add to eat seasonally, use marked downs, leftovers aka “planned overs” and soup night is a great budget saver and can use up some of the aforementioned. Stockup when items are on sale and incorporate them into next month’s menus. This allows you to always have cheap ingredients in your menus. I never think, “I want to eat X tonight.” It’s more like, “chicken is on sale at a great price, I’ll get 3 pkgs for the freezer.” Chicken cacciatore, BBQ grilled chicken, oven baked chicken legs then appear on the following month’s dinner menus. It’s just a different approach.

    Agreed that some sales are seasonal: back to school/Aug brings peanut butter and jelly; Memorial Day is the time for picnic supplies, November is baking supplies, St Pats for cheap cabbage and corned beef (I already have a sale priced one in my freezer, bought last year)

  3. One of my goals is to start monthly meal planning very soon. My question is this, you plan all your meals at one time, but do you still go grocery shopping once a week?

    • Jessica says:

      Yes, I typically plan the month by shopping what I already have or what I think will be cheap or on sale. Then each week, I reevaluate the plan and make a list. So, I still spend a few minutes each week on meal planning, but over the month, this really saves me time.

  4. I do a monthly sketch of a meal plan. I do one major shopping trip a month and then fill in with whats on sale each week.

  5. I plan our meals by the month too and when I tell people that they think it’s just impossible. But I started small–one week, then two weeks and then up to a month. Of course, at the start of each week before my weekly shopping trip, I double check and reevaluate or maybe swap something out if something has come up for that week that I’ll need to work around but it’s really not too tough. I think one thing that helps is that I do a lot of freezer meal cooking so really, I’m just plotting out what I’ve already got ready to make.

  6. Harriet says:

    I am still doing a weekly menu. For now, that’s good here. With baseball season starting this week, it means we will eat left overs or crockpot fare two nights a week, every week for the next 3 months.
    I also do my grocery shopping just once a week. I sure look forward to the St. Patricks day fare that will be on sale :) Thanks for the reminder.

  7. I plan weekly…. This week is Taquitos, asian pork tenderloin, baked ziti, meatloaf, burritos, chicken strips and squash soup. Lunches will be salads, leftovers, and sandwiches (still have a ton of 99 cent sandwich meat I got on clearance after christmas).

  8. I plan for the month – and shop for the month also – it may take a little longer on the front end, but I think it saves time in the long run because then I don’t have to worry about “what’s for dinner” the rest of the month. I know that many people think that a menu plan is rigid, but, at least to me, that is not true. To me, one of the advantages of the monthly plan is you have options. If I don’t feel like cooking something that is planned for this week – I’m sure there is something else that is on the menu for the month that I would like to cook. And because I have shopped for the month I have what ever I need for everything in the house – no need for fast food or quick trips to the grocery store!

    If you would like to check out my menu’s for this week/month – please check out my blog at http://cdm-arewethereyet.blogspot.com/2012/03/mondays-menu.html. I would love to see what you think of my little corner of “blog land”.

    Thanks – and have a great week!
    Hugs -
    Carol

  9. I plan out a month’s menu but then tweak it weekly as needed. Sometimes we end up with more leftovers or the weather is nice and we want to grill, etc. It leaves me enough breathing room for the “what-ifs” in life. I am one of those people that goes nuts when something is planned out and then changes…like a menu plan, lol. {Working on this~smile} So, I can still be organized and planned out but don’t feel bad if we change the week up a bit.

  10. I don’t know if I could do a menu plan a month at a time, my husbands work schedule changes too much and I tend to plan dinners more complicated dinners when he is home and more kid friendly easy dinners when he is not. But it does seem like it would be nice to do it once every 4 weeks then forget about it.

  11. After I started seriously freezer cooking, planning meals a month at a time was a natural extension. It’s nice not to have to think about it that much.

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