Meal Matrix Planning Calendar Download
Lately, I have been really enjoying doing our family meal planning a month at a time using a meal matrix. At first the idea seemed extremely daunting, meal planning a week at a time was always a chore, and the thought of doing FOUR weeks at a time honestly sounded ridiculous. Well, I was wrong. Somehow it's actually easier, and I found myself wasting less food when I was able to look at our meals from a month out. Here's how I do it:
1. Start with the givens. Fill in any nights that you'll be out of town or have other dinner plans, because you wont be needing to prep meals for those nights.
2. Create a theme for a few nights a week. (Ex. Pasta Monday, Taco Tuesday, Soup Sunday, etc.) For us, we have takeout every Thursday, and during the cooler weather we have soup on Sundays. Fridays are always takeout or out to eat, and Saturdays T and I like to cook something together. Narrowing down a theme for certain days of the week helps me to select recipes that we love without feeling too overwhelmed.
3. Plan for leftovers. I like to cook Sundays and Tuesdays and eat leftovers on Mondays and Wednesdays. If I know I will need leftovers ahead of time I can double a recipe, and also go ahead and set aside our portions for the next day so we don't overeat.
4. Give yourself some wiggle room. Things happen, there will be times that cooking what you have written down doesn't work out. Whether work runs late, kids get sick, or you just don't feel like eating what you have planned, don't get too overwhelmed if you veer off of this plan every once in a while. I like to use the notes section to write a few ready to eat items that we keep in our deep freezer like frozen pizzas or previously made soup. Writing it out makes you more likely to prepare one of those items versus panic ordering Door Dash.
I've included a download here for the meal matrix that I'm using, and hope that you can find it helpful as well!