In December I started making a monthly meal plan. I was excited, but a little nervous about how it would all turn out. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. It didn't take as much time as I thought it would.
I made the meal calendar for the month and then wrote down all the ingredients I would need. That part was a little overwhelming at first. I separated the lists into perishables and non-perishables/freezable. Now I do a once a month shopping trip for the non-perishables/freezables and then a bi-weekly shopping trip for perishables. I don't stick to the menu every day, but I know that I will have enough meals for a whole month.
When making out the menu I tried to put similar meals back to back. Like one night we will have meatloaf and the next night we have shepherd pie. I use the same ingredients 2 days in a row. It saves time and money.
My once a month shopping trip consists of bulk buying. When I get home from that shopping trip I package the meats, cheeses, etc into appropriate portions and put them in the freezer. I also, within a day or 2, put a whole package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot and let them cook for the day. That evening I will use a couple of the chicken breasts for dinner and then the rest I shredded/cube and put into appropriate portions and freeze. That way when I have another chicken meal, all I have to do it take a package out of the freezer of already cooked chicken. I find it saves a lot of time.
I am still working out some kinks, but I am pretty happy with the results. There are still days that I get overwhelmed but I just brush it off and start over the next day.