Monthly Family Meal Plan: April 2021

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As March draws to an end, I’m loving the spring weather, the activities that are creeping back up onto our calendars and the prospect of SUMMER. This time of year can be tricky for meal planning. During winter months I enjoy preparing soups and warm, hearty meals. In the summer, I like grilling, sandwiches, and salads. But what about spring when it’s half-chilly and half-hot?? Well, I create my monthly family meal plan and we eat what we eat, even if that means hot soup on a 70 degree day!

Our monthly family meal plan for April is here!

Benefits of a Monthly Family Meal Plan

Creating a monthly family meal plan has a lot of benefits.

  1. Saves money. You buy what you need and eat what you buy, and you can skip the dining out!
  2. Saves time. Spending the time up front planning saves time every evening trying to throw a last-minute meal together.
  3. It’s healthier. You can create a meal plan with intention — build in those veggies! Plus, knowing you’ve got food at home prevents you from swinging through the drive through for junk!
  4. Less stress. Evenings are busy. Planning meals ahead eliminates a decision, and therefore reduces stress.

Sticking to a Meal Plan: The Mental Battle

Sticking to a meal plan is the whole point of creating a meal plan.

Obviously things happen to throw your meal plan off, like forgetting to defrost the chicken, having last-minute company, or finding out that you’re out of broccoli, and you’ve got to be flexible. HOWEVER when you allow yourself to “not feel like eating” what you’ve planned, you’re undermining the entire system.

So yes, you eat the soup on the warm spring day. You cook burgers on the stove instead of the grill if it rains, or you swap meals on two days if you really need to, but don’t give yourself the option of changing your mind! Stick to your plan and it will become a habit to do so.

RELATED POST: TIPS FOR STICKING TO A MEAL PLAN

How I Make a Monthly Meal Plan

Over the past few years, I’ve established a meal planning system that works for me and works for my family. I go into great detail of my meal planning system on this post (plus there’s a free printable). The staples of my meal planning system are the routine meals we eat several times a week. These prevent meal planning for an entire month from being daunting because it automatically eliminates about a third of the days.

We have tacos every Tuesday and pizza every Friday. You can choose your own routine meals, but I highly recommend picking two of your family’s favorite meals and eating them once a week. Other great options are meatballs & spaghetti, quesadillas, or soup and sandwiches. Keep it simple!

I also highly recommend scheduling in leftover nights, dining out, and “fend for yourself nights” so you have built in breaks.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Gather materials. A calendar of activities, paper to write the meals, a list of favorite family meals, and a cookbook for inspiration or if you’d like to incorporate new recipes into your meal plan.
  2. List the dates of the month. On the paper, write the numbers 1 to … whatever the last day of that month is.
  3. Identify the days of the week for your easy meals. As mentioned above, we have tacos on Tuesdays and pizza on Fridays, so I identify those days and fill in those meals.
  4. Look at your schedule and fill in the rest. Make sure you plan simple meals on busy nights and more complex meals on slower nights.

When scheduling meals, I try to plan for 1-2 salads a week, 2-3 new recipes a month, and I vary my proteins. Consider your dietary or family goals and build them into your monthly meal plan.

April’s Monthly Family Meal Plan

This month we have Easter and my husband’s birthday so I don’t have specifics for those days yet, those meals require more time and attention than I want to dedicate to them when doing a quick meal planning session.

Here are our April meals:

  1. Fajita rice bowls (fajita seasoning, chicken, peppers, onions on rice, topped with cheddar and sour cream)
  2. Homemade pizza
  3. Order Out
  4. Easter Dinner (probably ham)
  5. Whole chicken (cooked in the crock pot, here’s a recipe) and sweet potatoes
  6. Taco salad (ground beef or turkey with taco seasoning, on top of lettuce topped with cheddar and broken tortilla chips)
  7. Pasta with broccoli and chicken (leftovers from the 5th)
  8. Chicken quesadillas (quick and simple using more leftovers, here’s a recipe)
  9. Homemade pizza
  10. Burgers on the grill
  11. Spaghetti and meatballs
  12. Spinach Couscous Salad (from The Weekday Lunches & Breakfasts Cookbook by Mary Younkin)
  13. Tacos
  14. Homemade chicken nuggets and (frozen bagged) sweet potato fries
  15. Spinach pesto quesadillas (here’s a recipe)
  16. Homemade pizza
  17. Order Out
  18. Pulled pork sandwiches
  19. Whole chicken (in the crock pot)
  20. Taco salad
  21. Pickle Chicken Salad Sandwiches (also from The Weekday Lunches & Breakfasts Cookbook by Mary Younkin)
  22. Salad kit and (frozen bagged) chicken tenders
  23. Homemade pizza
  24. Burgers
  25. Cuban Sliders (a family favorite, here’s a recipe)
  26. Husband’s Birthday Dinner
  27. Tacos
  28. Angel Hair Asparagus (also from The Weekday Lunches & Breakfasts Cookbook by Mary Younkin)
  29. Tuna Rice Bowls (like this recipe, but simplified)

I’m trying to incorporate more vegetables into our meals, so there are quite a few salads in here (my kids have given up arguing and actually eat them now!) and some sandwiches, which are quick and easy for busy sports nights.

And that’s what we’re having for dinner in April! What are you having? Share your favorite recipe below, I’m always up for trying something new!

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