There are two chores I hate more than any others… cleaning bathrooms and meal planning. I don’t have any good solutions for cleaning bathrooms. Maybe clean a little at a time? I don’t know. If you have any tips for that chore please share them below. Creating a meal plan, though… That’s a whole other story!

Over the last 15 years, I’ve come up with a pretty decent system. No longer do I have to look through 14 cookbooks, 6 Pinterest boards, and a box of recipe cards just to plan a single meal. I’m serious when I tell you I can plan out all of my meals for an entire month in 5 minutes.

I don’t want to offer false hope, though. Even with that short amount of time, I still hate the process of meal planning. It’s the worst. But the system I’m about to share with you seriously cuts down time, so I consider that a win.

Before we jump into the steps I want to be clear. I only plan out dinners. For breakfast and lunch, it’s every man for himself. I make sure we have items in the house that can work for those meals, but they don’t make it into my meal plan.

With that being said, if you wanted to implement this process for all 3 of your meals every day it would take the amount of planning time from 5 to 15 minutes. Still not terrible. Anyway, here it is. This is how I plan an entire month of dinners in five minutes.

Meal Plan filled it.

How to Meal Plan a Month in Five Minutes

1. Set aside a day to create your “Master List.”

This is the key step right here. You’re going to create, what I call, “The Master List.” It’s going to be miserable (I know… I’m really sellin’ it, aren’t I?) but the master list is what makes this whole process work. You’re going to open up every single one of your Pinterest boards, cookbooks, and recipe boxes, and make a list of every single recipe you cook. Just the titles.

As you’re writing down your titles you’ll want to put them into categories. Some of my categories are chicken, beef, crockpot, pizza, breakfast (because who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?).

“Sarah, you just told me this step was going to be miserable. Can’t I just skip it?” No. Meal planning is hard when you have a zillion recipes across just as many cookbooks and websites. Organizing everything into a single document is the key to cutting down on time.

Meal plan master list

2. Print off a monthly calendar + assign each day a category.

CLICK HERE to get a basic monthly calendar or use your own planner. Now… remember those categories you made on your master list? Above the days of the week give each day a category. Example: Monday – Chicken, Tuesday – Mexican, Wednesday – Crockpot.

Tip: I always put leftovers on Saturday and Sunday because I’ve found that when I cook just five days a week we end up having enough food for seven. Plus, who wants to cook every. single. night?!

Meal planning categories

3. Fill in your meal plan.

Here’s where things get super easy. Now that your weekly categories are chosen, go back to your master list and find recipes that fit under those headings. Fill in all of your days, and voila! Meal plan done in 5 minutes!

August Meal Plan

The reason why this makes things so easy is because it cuts down on your choices. Meal planning without a master list is like trying to choose a meal at The Cheesecake Factory. Have you ever been there? Their menu is a literal book. There are just too many options. Without a master list, every single thing you COULD cook is an option, which makes choosing hard.

That’s the end of the 5-minute meal-planning process! If you want to know how I make a grocery list so I can zip in and out of the grocery store in record time, then you can check that out here.

Happy meal planning friends!


Check out the other blogs in this series here: 5 Simple Routines That Make Family Life SO Much Easier
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