Stop Asking, “What’s For Diner?”

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After a long and tiring day at work, you rush home to be with your family. As you get in the door, the first words you hear are, “What’s for dinner? I’m starving!”


No “I love you!”, or “I’m so glad you’re home.”

To make things worse, you have not even thought about diner. You walk into the kitchen and open the cupboards to reveal nothing but a couple cans of re-fried beans and a box of pasta. Then you go to your refrigerator and realize that you are out of milk, eggs and produce.

As you try to get your creative juices pumping to create a quick and tasty dish, you come to the realization that a ketchup over noodles with a side of beans is not going to fly with anyone. So out of desperation, you pick up the phone and order a couple of pizzas.

Sound Familiar?

This is exactly why The Monthly Lineup was started. The most dreaded phrase in our home was, “what’s for dinner?” Every night it was the same routine. Ask the question, rummage through the pantry or fridge and then realize nothing sounds good or anything appetizing would take way to long to make. Then to make things “better” we would once again cook up a box of Mac n Cheese and cut up a hot dog in it to make it more filling.

The MOnthly LineUp

Tired of this routine? Then you have come to the right place. Here at The Monthly Lineup you will find monthly meal plans to help you be prepared ahead of time with all of your ingredients as well as a calendar showing you exactly what you are eating that night.

How it works

We have prepared an entire month of meal plans that will be yours free, forever! Included with the meal plan is a complete shopping list of the ingredients that you will need to make all of the meals listed.

All you have to do visit, print out the shopping list, and do your monthly shopping trip.


What are the benefits of meal planning?

Once we started meal planning, we noticed a few really big changes. First, dinner-time was not longer a dreaded time in our home. It went smoothly (as smooth as diner can go with little kids) and we knew what we were eating before 5:00 p.m. that night.

We also discovered that we had the ability to change our meal plan on the fly. If something else sounded better that night or fit our schedule better, we could swap the recipes because we already had the ingredients. This was a huge bonus. We were not constrained to only one option!

Third, we were amazed at how much money we were able to save by doing one monthly shopping trip. Prior to meal planning, we would try and get any relevant coupon we could to help save money. After monthly meal planning, we realized that we were going to the store more often when using coupons which resulted in us spending more money. After buying all of our ingredients,  we committed to staying out of the store the rest of the month (other than to buy more produce or perishable items) and very quickly we saw that we started saving over $100 a month on our food budget.


Are the planned meals allergy friendly?

Ironically, we created the entire year worth of meal plans before discovering that our two boys were both lactose intolerant. After the first year, we had to completely start from scratch with different meals. Then we added in more allergies with our oldest girl and started all over again. It will be our goal to add allergy friendly meals in the future but for now the meal plan is generic. Contact us if you have questions about how to substitute ingredients to make foods allergy friendly.

Is The Monthly LineUp a subscription meal planning service?

No. The Monthly Lineup is not a full meal planning service. Everything included on the site is free to use and will remain free forever. That is our gift to you.

If you have tried out all of our recipes or if you are in need of specialized recipes, we highly recommend emeals. This is an amazing company that allows you to selct meal plans on a weekly basis. They have meal plans for all eating styles and give you access right through your email.

We would love to hear how The Monthly LineUp has saved you both time and money. Please leave a comment to the post or shoot us an email. Have a great day!

Saving Time, Saving Money,  Saving Dinner!

– The Monthly LineUp

Way Over Budget!

If you have read our other posts, our overall goal is to save as much money as we can by staying out of the store and following the meal plan. Well, some months that is going to be a piece of cake and others are going to be terrible.

For our family, we have follow


ed our meal plan this month, but we have not done as well with the budget. To prove that we are human, we have overspent our budget by $100 and it is only the 24th. :/

If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t fret it. One of the greatest difficulties of having a budget is not backing down when the going get’s tough.




What to do if you are over budget?

  1. Sit down and write out what it was you spent the extra money on. Was on an unplanned get-together, special night out, or just tired of eating leftovers. In writing this down, you can create a plan for the next month that will help you stay focused and keep your spending down.
  2. Look over your pantry and find out what items you are running out of and plan how you are going to replace them. For example, are you going to replace these items all in one month or over a few months? Often, we run out of a lot of things all in one month. If all of these items are replaced during your monthly shopping trip, chances are you are going to be spending a lot more money than you anticipated.
  3. Did you stock up on any items? If your budget allows for it, stocking up on things like meats when they are on sale for really cheap is a great way to save money in the long run. For example, buying 20lbs of chicken at $2.50 vs $1.60 a pound is a difference of $18. That is huge savings. Try to find these deals and work them into your budget.

Now, if the reason you overspent was due to habit or being tired of eating what was planned, just pick up where you left of and commit yourself to follow the plan more this month. Once you see the savings, you will be amazed at how much money you can keep in your wallet.

If you are ready to plan for February check out the meal plan and shopping list.



Old MacDonald…Forgot to Meal Plan

There is no doubt about it. Here in the U.S.A., we love to eat out. And we are not alone! Whether it is the fact that we do not have to prepare the meal, do the dishes, all of the amazing flavors and options, or the social aspect of eating out, we love it!!!!


A buck, buck, here, and a buck, buck there….

With nearly a million different restaurants in the U.S. alone, there is something for everyone. I, like you, love to go to one of my favorite restaurants, kick back, and enjoy a great meal. And we all have moments when we need to grab something quick as we go from one event to another.

So, what is the harm in supporting your local business and dropping a couple of dollars on some good food? That all depends on how often it is happening and how much you can afford to eat out and money is not the only concern.


here a buck, there a buck, everywhere a buck, buck…

Let’s take a look at our family’s monthly food budget as an example of what happens when we do not stick to our meal plan and budget.
(Remember, we are not normal!) 🙂

This month, we spent just over $200 on our entire month’s food. Most likely, by the end of the month, we will add another $40-$50 as we pick up additional produce or go through items quicker than planned. This includes all of our food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Again, we are much more cheap 😉 frugal than your average bear. We do not buy junk food, soda, coffee, other drinks or other expensive snacks. Don’t worry, every once in a while we will splurge and get some comfort foods. Yes, we are still human.

Now, let’s look at another approach with a little more wiggle room.

What if I spent one additional dollar a day on food or snacks. That would be another $20 a month, excluding weekends, added to our food budget. No biggie, Right? Now, let’s say Elizabeth does the same. Now we are up to $40. Still, most budgets could even handle this 15% increase to the budget.


What if we were more typical in our spending?

What if I spent an average of $5 on lunches plus another $2 on snacks or drinks per day? I could easily spend up to $140 a month on my daytime food alone. If we paid to have our son eat at school instead of using the food we already have, we would add around $40 a month to our budget. For this example, let’s just say that Elizabeth’s extra food stayed at $20 a month. Now our family is spending an additional $200 a month a month! Wait, that is almost what our entire month’s food budget is and we just doubled it with our lunches and snacks alone! Have you noticed I have not even added in eating out as a family, date nights, breakfast meals or buying beverages?

For the final example, let’s look at an even more common approach to food.

What if I spent $7 on lunches, another $3 on snacks, and $7 on drinks (soda/coffee)? If I do that only 5 times a week, that is at least $340 every month. That is 136% of my family’s entire food budget. Also, let’s go ahead and add in our family eating out twice a week at $20 each time. Now we have reached $500 in additional food for the month.  This is a 200% increase from what our family actually needs and we still have not looked at dinner every night.


How Does Meal Planning Help?

The reason that meal planning is so effective is that you are not buying food on the fly. You have a plan. Once you go shopping, you commit to not buying more food, even when it is what you really want to do.

Now, if your budget is larger, you have your finances in order, and your health is good, can you afford to eat out a little more? Of course. But, the purpose of this blog is to help families save time and money. To do this, you have to be willing to get focused and stay focused and not let up, even when it is the sixth time that month you have eaten peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches for lunch.

The more you stay out of the stores, the more you save! It really is that simple. Notice I did not say easy, because it is not, but it is that simple.

Another way meal planning helps is that you already have all of your food for the month. Just knowing that will give you a huge sense of relief and most of the time it keeps you from having to run to the store again and grab some last minute items.

When following our meal plan, this is what our meals look like on a regular basis. It might not look exciting, but it is better than beans and rice 🙂

A typical menu for our family:
Breakfast: Eggs with ham and a slice of toast, oatmeal with add-ins and almond milk, or occasionally waffles or pancakes.
Lunch: Sandwiches or leftovers
Dinner: Our planned meal
Beverage for all meals: Water
Snacks: Gram Crackers, pretzels, raisins, wheat thins, almonds, or peanuts

Know the answer to “What’s for dinner?”

The area where you will see the most savings is when the answer to “What’s for dinner/lunch?” is not, “Let’s just go pick something up.” As you start cutting out take-out and buying prepared food, you will be amazed how much money you will save. We have known couples that have spent over $800 a month in eating out alone(that’s a house payment!). At the time, our entire families grocery budget was $100 a month! Let’s just say we were shocked but have learned that many people are struggling in this area.


So, can you do it? Of course! Just hop on over to the meal plan you would like to use, print out the shopping list, buy what you need, and then STAY OUT OF THE STORE!

May 2018 be a year of huge savings and great food for you and your family!


Only One Shopping Trip????

Monthly Shopping Trip

If you have not done a monthly shopping trip before, it might sound like a pretty daunting task.

Don’t worry, it is nothing to sweat. Just take your monthly shopping list with you, grab a large cart, and start at one part of the store and work each aisle until you are done.

That’s It! – Okay it is a little more challenging than that, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.


How Long Does It Take?

On average, our trip takes about an hour from start to finish. That is if we don’t have all four kids with us running up and down the aisle and grabbing things off the shelves.  :/ If you have the chance to go by yourself, it can sure be nice. It is kind of like taking an hour-long vacation…….to the grocery store. 🙂

If you did not notice, each shopping list is split into categories and so are most grocery stores – They are so kind 🙂

Try to get everything you need from each aisle so you do not have to back-track. If you missed something, just swing back by and grab it when it is convenient. Checking off your shopping list sure helps keep track of what you still need.

**Warning – Doing a monthly shopping trip at a store you are not familiar with will take much longer than expected**

These pictures are from our shopping trip for this month. As you can see, there are more things than what you need for the meals. That is because we also buy our snacks (pretzels, gram crackers, raisins, tortilla chips, apples, etc), food for lunch and breakfast (Deli meat, almond milk, peanut butter, 5 dozen eggs) as well as other necessities for the month (Hygiene, diapers for two- ahh, cleaning supplies, and other household items.)

How much did it cost?

When we first started meal planning and had two children, we could do our entire month’s groceries under $100. Now, this month’s total trip was $207 (for what you see in the pictures). For a family of 6, that is not bad at all! To achieve this we do not buy drinks, junk food, or any other high-cost popular snacks. For many of you, that might be hard, so just do your best and we will be here to encourage you along the way!

There you have it! An entire month’s grocery shopping done and ready to be lined-up for meals throughout the month!

January’s Shopping Trip

The Monthly Lineup…New and Exciting

Any of you who have followed The Monthly Lineup over the last few years or who have stumbled upon our blog recently may have asked the same question, “Why is this blog out-of-date?” To find out more about where we have been since publishing this blog, check our out About Us page. To spare the rest of you, we have been actively engaged in other activities and never imagined we would have had so many people look at our blog.

Now, all that is changing. We have realized how much people need help with meal planning and have decided to make a renewed commitment to help.

What’s new? Each month’s meal plan on this blog will be updated in two ways. We will be changing the format from calendar to agenda style so that it is easier to access across devices and easier to view. We will also be adding the five additional recipes to each month for Sundays. We are excited to be able to answer your questions again and hope we can help you and your family be better prepared for your meals so that you can save time and money.

We hope to hear from you soon to see how we can help.