Years ago, my husband and I would do an eat-in month. In fact, this post is finally being updated with meal planning ideas, for the first time in 7 years. That’s how long it’s been since we have done a full month of eating in. Even during the early days of the pandemic, we would order from local restaurants to help support small businesses in our area.
This year, I have several financial goals and I thought I would really kick things off in January by challenging myself to cook as many meals as possible at home.
Why choose an eat-in month?
Well, budget is one thing. For our family of four, we can spend anywhere from $30 (fast food) to $100 for a dinner. If you do just four fast food dinners (one a week), that’s more than $100 spent on food.
Another thing is nutrition. December was wild for us. So many cookies, comfort food and dining out. I can cook some of my favorite restaurant meals and keep it a little healthier just by cutting portion sizes.
For this post, I decided to do a month full of meal planning. Our family meal plans every week – even when we’re traveling we make a plan! I have 31 meals listed below – a few meals are duplicates. If we have to shift meals around, it will be ok. We do grocery shopping once a week, so I know we will have everything on hand (and can move meals to the following week if necessary.) Several of the meals are linked to their recipes. Some are recipes not online, and some of the meals are pizza or grilled cheese.
At this point in the pandemic, we’re still ordering groceries most weeks. I also love to do order pick up at Sam’s Club. If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership, you can get one for just $19.99 for the year. (This offer also includes a $10 gift card, a free rotisserie chicken and cupcakes. It’s a fantastic deal! Use the rotisserie chicken for one of your meals!)
In order for food to not go bad, we try to eat what is freshest earlier in the week. Fresh vegetables are imperative to be eaten early on. Vegetables that can last 5 or 6 days get pushed to Thursday and Friday. Occasionally, we’ll swing by the store to pick up something late in the week if we don’t think it’s going to last long.
One of our local stores just had chicken on sale (organic, no antibiotics) for $3.28/pound. My husband had bought some for this week, and I had bought some chicken to have on hand “just in case” – we tend to eat a lot of chicken. I imagine that same store will have beef on sale (again, no antibiotics) soon, so I’ll stock up again. I really love buying the organic meat in bulk when it’s on sale.
Meal Planning Ideas for an Entire Month!
- pork chops with black eyed peas and kale
- Pizza (from the freezer – I like to buy these in bulk and have them on hand.)
- Kale and quinoa soup from Frontier Soups
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup
- Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (my specialty)
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Cajun Chicken Bites with Sweet Potato Fries
- Steak and salad on the side
- Breakfast for Dinner (Check out these pumpkin pancakes)
- Weight Watchers Chicken Pot Pie
- Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
- Company Beans & Rice
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
- Salmon packets (with couscous, cranberries and pistachios)
- Chicken and Ranch Flatbread
- Crock Pot Balsamic Pot Roast
- BBQ Chicken Pita Pizzas
- Penne Pasta with Pesto and Chicken
- Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken
- Grilled lemon lime basil chicken
- Meatloaf (This will make two and I’ll freeze one.)
- Homemade Mac & Cheese
- Slow Cooker Garlic Roasted Pork Tenderloin
- Weight Watchers (slow cooker) Vegetarian Chili
- Slow Cooker Roast Chicken (I’ll season the chicken, and stick it in the slow cooker.)
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Stew
- Breakfast for Dinner
- Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
How do you choose when to cook certain meals?
When I look at my weeks, I know I hate cooking on Friday. I love ordering pizza on Friday, so I plan for a frozen pizza on those nights. Some weeks we’ll do snack-type dinners and other times we’ll do breakfast for dinner (which is still work for me, but I don’t totally mind.)
I look at my husband’s meeting nights and when he isn’t able to cook. If he can’t start dinner, I’ll plug a slow cooker meal in for that evening.
I will spend more time cooking on weekends, and some weekends will involve me making a double batch – so I can freeze something for down the road. We love to do this with some chili recipes and meatloaf. They’re excellent for freezing and quick meals.
I used to use eMeals for several of my meals. We’ve tried several in the past and have found a few tried and true recipes to add to our rotation. I love being able to look back at old plans on my app.
We’ll still do grocery shopping weekly, but at least we have a plan now. And if there is a sale on whole chickens, I know I can buy at least 2 or 3 since I know when I want to cook them.
And as I’ve stated, this menu isn’t set in stone.
(This original post is linking up with OrgJunkie.)
Have you ever planned for an entire month of meals?