Rotating Meal Plan Tutorial
This guide to creating a simple, seasonal rotating meal plan system will help you to put healthy, wholesome, and varied meals on the table each night in each season without feeling like you spend your life in the kitchen.
Related: 18 practical meal planning tips for busy moms
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- Rotating meal plan video
- What is a rotating meal plan
- how to write a seasonal rotating meal plan
- tips for planning your rotating meals
- Options for Organizing your rotating meal plan
- Shop my Six Month Meal Plans
- rotating meal plan tips
- rotating meal plan example
- shop this post
- Healthfully rooted home recipes
- Rotating meal plan faq
- Pin it for later – rotating meal planning system
- about me
Rotating meal plan video
What is a rotating meal plan
A rotating meal plan, sometimes called a rotating menu, is just a list of meals that repeats itself over and over again. Your rotating meal plan can repeat once, twice, or however many times you’d like. You control the number of times your meals rotate by how many meals you include in your plan.
how to write a seasonal rotating meal plan
I’ll teach you the basics of how to create a seasonal rotating meal plan and dive deeper into specifics and tips for your rotating meal plan later.
- Break the year up into seasons
Decide how you want to break up your year. Do you want to do each season as a rotation? Or do you want to combine 2 seasons? Since I use similar ingredients in the Fall and Winter and similar in Spring and Summer I split my year up into 2 blocks of seasons. Fall and Winter run from about mid-September to mid-March (26 weeks) and Spring and Summer run from mid-March to mid-September (26 weeks).
- Break up the seasons into weeks
Decide how many weeks are in your rotating meal plan. This depends on how many seasons you included in one rotating meal plan. Write that number down. Since I include 2 seasons in my example, my meal plans are a total of 26 weeks.
- Decide how many rotations
Then decide how many times you’re willing to rotate each week of meals. Write that number down. I do about 3-4 rotations.
- Decide how many meals you want each week
Decide how many meals you want to make each week and be sure to account for leftovers. Write that number down (I do 5 meals/week).
- Calculate the number of meals
Multiply the number from step 4 times step 2 and divide the result by step 3. This will give you your total number of meals for your seasonal rotating meal plan. In my example, I need a total of about 33 meals.
- Plan your meals
This is the fun part. Choose seasonal ingredients, and include a good mix of easy meals and more involved meals to give yourself a balance throughout your weeks. Compile your tried and true recipes, easy go-to meals, and fun meals you’ve always wanted to try from Pinterest!
- Organize your rotating meal plan
This is a stylistic choice. I like to organize my meal plans in a binder with sheet protectors so I can literally just rotate the meals out each week. You could also choose to keep it digital. Totally up to you but I give you examples of options below.
tips for planning your rotating meals
1. Look at your state’s seasonal produce list
USDA”s seasonal produce guide is a helpful resource for this. Use in-season produce to generate your meal list. Using in-season produce will help keep your meals budget-friendly and the most nutritionally dense.
2. plan for a flexible meal each week.
This night may be where you eat up leftovers, make an “easy button meal” order in, go out to eat, etc.
3. Include an “experimental meal” each week.
This is optional, but fun to do if you enjoy trying new recipes. I like to keep this night on the weekend when I have help around the house and with our son. Sometimes these recipes end up in the rotation and sometimes they definitely don’t!
4. plan themed nights
If you’re stumped on curating meals for your rotating meal plan, incorporate themed nights to give you a jump start. For example, meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, pizza Friday, soupy Sunday.
Options for Organizing your rotating meal plan
Physical rotating meal plan method
I organize my meal plan in a binder using sheet protectors for each recipe. There’s a tab for my Fall and Winter rotating meal plan with all those corresponding meals and then a separate tab for my Spring and Summer rotating meal plan. Then, there are separate tabs for my recipes for sauces, homemade bread, and side dishes.
My physical rotating meal plan includes
- Each recipe is printed out and put into a sheet protector and each week is separated by a little sticky tab. At the end of each week, I take the previous week’s recipes and place them in the back of the meal rotation.
2. I include a grocery list at the beginning of each week with all the ingredients I’ll need for each meal that week. This makes generating my weekly grocery order so easy.
Digital rotating meal plan method
You can use my meal planning template to help you compile all your recipes and keep them in a digital format so you can just scroll through the next week of your meal plan. You could also use this template to compile your recipes and print them off for a physical rotating meal plan.
If you want me to do all the work for you you can purchase my Fall & Winter meal plan. In this meal plan, I have over 50 recipes, complete built-out grocery lists, and everything organized by weeks so you don’t have to think about anything.
Shop my Six Month Meal Plans
Shop for my six month meal plans here. These will help give you a restful dinner-time routine by giving you all your recipes laid out in a weekly meal plan format for 6 months.
rotating meal plan tips
1. Prep one large meal per week
Whatever the start of your week is, use that day to prep a large dinner. For example, I start my weeks on Sunday and I make that either a “Soupy Sunday” where I make a double or triple batch of soup and use the leftovers to freeze for an easy button meal later on. Or, I’ll cook a whole chicken and use the leftover meat throughout the week for other dishes.
2. plan for Easy button meals
Easy button meals are simple meals that have only about 5 minutes of hands-on time (10 max). It’s important to have an arsenal of these on hand for those crazy nights where nothing seems to go as planned (or when you just aren’t feelin’ it). My meal plans incorporate several easy button meals into the rotation and I provide some healthy ideas!
3. Grocery shop online
Online grocery shopping is quicker and cheaper! When you have a rotating meal plan, you know exactly what you need for the week, so there is no need to roam the grocery isles figuring out “what’s for dinner?” Save time and money by just putting in a grocery order and picking it up. My meal plans have built-out grocery lists for each week so you can just go down the list adding what you need to your grocery order.
4. order groceries the same day each week
Y’all, this is so important! Getting into a routine will play a tremendous role in your rotating meal plan success. With a rotating meal plan, once you have the plan built out, all you have to do is order your groceries and make the food. If you order your groceries on the same day each week, you’ll avoid forgetting.
5. Plan for your next meal as you’re making that meal
This is one of my best tips for cooking from scratch. Cooking from scratch really doesn’t require much more hands-on time. But it does require more planning ahead. To do this, make sure you use making dinner as a prompt to remind you about what you need to prepare for the next dinner. My meal plan has a section for each recipe that tells you exactly what you need to prep the night before for that meal.
6. Keep produce fluid
When creating your rotating meal plan, try to keep your produce options as fluid as possible so you can take advantage of seasonal produce and produce that’s on sale that week.
7. Cook double or triple-batch meals
Whenever possible, try to cook a double or triple batch of something so you can freeze it and use it for an easy button meal later.
8. Simplify breakfast meal planning
Just have a list of breakfast options your family enjoys and choose 1-2 each week. Prep these on the same day each week (I try to do this on the same day I pick up groceries).
9. Lunches = leftovers
I never meal prep lunches; rather, I always make enough dinner to use as our lunch the next day. This saves me hours in the kitchen each week.
10. Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times.
Thrive Market has been such a saving grace for me! They have healthy snacks that are delicious and help to satisfy us until the next meal. I love that you can filter your search results by dietary preferences too (eg. vegan, no added sugar, paleo, gluten-free, etc.).
11. Vary your protein options
As you’re creating your rotating meal plan, try to vary your protein each night of the week so you aren’t eating chicken every night.
12. Use similar ingredients for each rotation
For each week, you’ll want to utilize similar ingredients so nothing goes to waste. For example, cilantro is something I try to incorporate into at least 2 meals when I call for it so we use up an entire bushel.
rotating meal plan example
Here is one week out of my Volume 1 Fall & Winter Meal plan:
Soupy Sunday – White chicken chili with cast iron cornbread
Meatless Monday – Quinoa & veggie nourish bowls
Taco Tuesday – Taco bar with homemade sourdough tortillas
Wednesday – Teriyaki salmon with coconut rice and crispy brussels sprouts
Thursday – Cashew chicken and coconut rice
Easy Button Friday – Smorgasbord of leftovers
Experimental Saturday – Experimental recipe night or hubby cooks.
You’ll notice that I vary my protein options, use a mix of easy meals and more involved meals, have the meal that yields the most done on Sundays and I take advantage of leftovers. So, I really only cook a few times a week but from that, we get from scratch, healthy and wholesome meals all week long.
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- Fall & Winter Meal Plan
- Spring & Summer Meal Plan
- Berkey water filter (we use the Royal because we drink an insane amount of water!)
- Thrive Market – 25% off & free gift! (where I get a ton of my ingredients)
- Azure Standard: $25 off your order. Code kyrieluke1
- Dutch oven
- Stand mixer
- Boos Block Butcher Block
- 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet
Healthfully rooted home recipes
Roasted Garlic Sourdough Bread
Pumpkin Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Lemon and Lavender Sourdough Discard Muffins
Sourdough Starter from Scratch
Spiced Pumpkin & Chorizo Chili
Rotating meal plan faq
First decide how many times you’re willing to repeat the rotating meal plan, then decide how many meals you want each week. Pick that many meals to include in the rotation and then you’re done!
My rotating meal plan rotates meals about 3-4 times throughout a 26 week period. You can rotate meals however frequently you’d like.
A rotating menu cycle, sometimes called a rotating meal plan, is just a list of meals that repeats itself over and over again. Your rotating meal plan can repeat once, twice, or however many times you’d like. You control the number of times your meals rotate by how many meals you include in your plan.
I love this so much! I will be diving in and using this as a springboard to create my own rotating meal plan. Thanks so much for sharing!
Yes yes yes! It’ll change your life. To not have to think about what you’re going to make for dinner every night… seriously gives you so much more freedom!