As a chef with over a decade of experience, I live by meal prepping. The organized bulk-cooking techniques I rely on in the restaurant kitchen save me precious time and money at home too. I learned a lot about how to meal prep for a month and more.
After long days on my feet, the last thing I want to do is cook more. Meal planning is my hack for putting hearty, homemade meals on the table without becoming a full-time home cook.
In this post, I’ll condense my hard-won professional strategies into a simple step-by-step guide. With one big prep, one day each month, you can enjoy tasty, nutritious meals daily without fuss. Just a month at a time and it gets easier, I promise! Let’s get prepping!
How to meal prep for a month: step-by-step
Step 1: Get a Printable Calendar and make a Favorite Meals List
Start by grabbing a calendar where you can write your monthly plan. I like to tape a large sheet of paper to the wall for maximum visibility.
Map out the month and start populating the rest of it with the go-to meals your household loves. Build the plan around preferences and classics like Taco Tuesdays or Slow-Cooker Sundays.
Don’t limit yourself to dinners – including easy make-ahead breakfasts and lunches too. Maintain momentum by prepping for favorite dishes.
Step 2: Plan Themed Nights
Now strategically sprinkle in new recipes or cuisines that excite you. Bored eating the same meals? Try an Italian night, soup sampler dinner, or panini party. Or what about the Taco Tuesday? Themes make cooking more fun!
Aim for variety – cooking methods, meat vs. vegetarian dishes, lighter fare vs. comfort foods. This ensures balanced nutrition and prevents taste bud fatigue. Different cooking methods will elevate your skills!
Step 3: Make a Master Grocery List
Scan your calendar and make a comprehensive shopping list for every meal you’ve planned. Resist impulse buys and stick to staples for those recipes.
Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer first. No need to buy duplicates! Purchase perishables like fresh produce weekly as needed.
Stick to your grocery budget it also helps save money on impulse things.
Don’t go to the grocery stores if you are hungry, even if you have a shopping list.
Step 4: Pick a Prep Day & Prep Like Crazy
Block out 4-6 hours per week on your chosen prep day – I like Sundays. Cook, portion, and store meal components like proteins, grains, sauces, and vegetables. Just imagine, whole month you don’t need to think about meal planning.
As a chef, I live by the motto “mise en place” – French for “putting in place.” Get all ingredients prepped and ready before cooking. Stay organized and feel like a pro! If you like to learn more about how to cook better, I suggest reading my recent post.
Step 5: Label & Freeze
Portion cooked foods into meal-sized reusable containers. Let cool completely before labeling each container with contents and date.
Transfer to the refrigerator or freezer promptly. Frozen entrees will be kept for 2-3 months! Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Meal Prep Containers to Use
For freezing and storing your food it is much easier to use proper and professional food containers. There are a few good types which I recommend to use.
- Stainless Steel Containers
- Glass Containers
- Plastic ContainersMeal planning is becoming much easier with the right tools.
- Make big batches – cook 2-3 meals and pack 10 portions of each.
- Embrace your freezer for prepped foods. Freeze sauces, cooked meats, hearty soups, etc.
- Reheat frozen meals safely – thaw overnight in the fridge then reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.
With one monthly mega-prep session, you can stock your fridge and freezer with grab-and-go meals for weeks. Now you can skip the takeout and enjoy homecooked food anytime!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is it safe to meal plan for 4 days?
Yes! Refrigerate prepared foods within 2 hours of cooking. Store in shallow airtight containers, with meats on the bottom to prevent contamination. Food kept at or below 40°F (+5°C) will last 3-5 days.
How do I meal plan on a budget?
Make a monthly meal plan based on sales ads and coupons. Buy shelf-stable ingredients in bulk. Incorporate less pricey proteins like eggs, beans, and chicken. Repurpose leftovers creatively.
How do I write a monthly meal plan?
Start with family favorites, one or two, then add variety. Balance cooking methods and nutritional needs. Map out recipes for 4 weeks, including all meals and snacks. Don’t stick to just the meat options, try vegetarian recipes, and adjust portions as needed.
Is it OK to meal prep for 5 days?
Yes, you can safely store meal prep in the refrigerator for 5 days maximum. Be diligent about safe cooling, proper storage, and labeling. Freeze meals you won’t eat within 5 days. But freeze them on the same day as you cooked them. That’s why a meal plan is so important.
Is it cheaper to meal prep or buy pre-made?
Home meal prepping is significantly cheaper than buying pre-made meals! You control ingredients, portions, and price when you DIY. It requires planning but pays off.
Can you meal prep for 1 month?
Absolutely! With monthly meal planning and ample freezer space, you can conquer a month’s worth of meal prep in one go. Mix it up with a variety of recipes, and remember to portion, label, and freeze meals for easy access. Meal planning has never been this convenient!
Is it safe to freeze your meal prep?
Freezing your meal prep is safe and convenient. Just follow a few rules: prep your meals, portion them into meal prep containers, let them cool down to room temperature, and then label and freeze them.
In this blog post, I am thrilled to share my tips and tricks on monthly meal plans, along with other tips on grocery shopping, and how not to eat the same meal every day. With these strategies, saving money and minimizing food waste will be much easier. Plan for a month using a family calendar and save so much time during the week.
Monthly meal planning and freezer meals can make your busy nights more enjoyable and chill. Imagine having enough meals a whole for the whole month at your fingertips, leaving you free from the daily mealtime scramble.
Plus, planning meals can be a delightful family bonding experience and a fantastic way to keep your budget in check. Every week you can plan what meals you will make next month and save time before making them. You can share meal ideas for the next monthly meal planning.
If you want to make your own life easier and less complicated, then make sure to try out those tips! I hope you found those meal plan tips useful. Have a great week and I hope to see you soon in my other blogposts!