Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Plan for Easy Meal planning and Saving Big $

So I've offered this advice to more then a few people this month, asking how to start meal planning and what others do.If you are tagged in this post its because we've had a convo about it, or smth pertaining to it in the past :)  I decided it would be easier to just write it here and then refer others to it if asked. So, here goes. Its really ALOT easier then you might think.
First of all, I DO NOT have a "This is what were having monday, teusday, weds., exc." system. I have a system that I plan out 7 meals for a week, and the ingredients I need, I write those meals down on paper and hang on the fridge and the night before I chose what meat needs laid out for the next day. ALOT of what I cook is done in the crockpot also, freeing up my day,kitchen,and time for other things, but having an awesome meal ready and hot when we are hungry!
Okay so lets get started. I first set aside how much to spend that week on food. This is new to me and every week is varied by what bills are due and what is already on hand in our kitchen. Like last week I only had to spend $40 but this week I know we are going to need to make a big trip, so the budget for it is $130.

  • Next thing I do is I set a day to look at recipes/websites/and meal plan for about 2 hours. i do mine on thursdays. i get all my recipe books out (the favorites)and  my computer. I go to "" where i have a "menu box" with our favorites, and my notebook i just bought a few weeks ago where i write down what the meals that week will be. (the notebook is so that If Im at a loss for what to fix, I can refer back to previous weeks for ideas, also this avoids making family eat any meal too often just because you forgot you just made it)

  • So  i always ONLY  plan out 6 or 7 meals  that sound good, I have never done a month of planning and probably never will, as just the one week takes so long to do it right.

  •  THEN I write down all the ingredients ill need for those meals so that I will not go to make smth, think I have the stuff, and then not have it. After that I go to my kitchen and if I have a certain ingredient already I just mark it off the list. Writing it down even if I know I have it in there is just easier, in the past I would think i had smth that in fact i was out of.

  •  THEN I go online to this site (not sure what its called but you can google "weekly sunday grocery ads" and it brings up ALL the store ads for the week. i look at the stores ads that are around my area,jay c kroger iga savealot and dollar general and i see what is on sale that matches my ingredients i need for meals. I write down next to the ingrdient how much its on sale for and where at.

  • I now do all my shopping at WALMART, as much as i hate the place its best to take advantage of the one stop shop and just price match everything to the other stores. We never pay full price for meat anymore or most household items either.

  • So, while Im shopping I ALWAYS keep a running total of how much Ive spent, so I dont get to the register and have a surprise! It is usually cheaper then what I have down too, because the meat is price matched and ends up cheaper.Also, usually walmart cashiers are great about helping you match items you might not have known about on sale. this IS if you do the checkout "right". Yes, there is a "right" way to check out with pricematching. Make sure you use the dividers they have. go to a line that isnt that busy, on a day that isnt that busy and tell the cashier you have alot of matches so ask them to wait a sec before starting. get all ur price matches on the belt first, then the rest of items. step to the other side of cashier by the bags and watch what she is about to grab next. look at the list you have, and tell her the price on each item as she grabs, so that she isnt having to ask you about every item and it just goes faster for both of you :) then remember to get ur bags as they go around so she doesnt have to stop to load ur cart too, thats just rude of you lol.

  •  This method not only helps control ur budget for food, but also avoids last minute "impulse buys" just cuz you went shopping on an empty stomach :) I rarely EVER put anything in the cart now that isnt on my list. so make sure you are putting snacks on that list too!

  • When I get home I put everything up obviously and make sure my list is on the fridge of the meals I have bought, and my meat for tomorrow is put in fridge. then I individually bag any meats that i might have bought in bulk also to freeze.


  • 1.  I buy the big pack of family chicken breasts at walmart for about $9/10 and break it into 3 or 4 bags and season em each differently then freeze. its a quick thing to pull out and unthaw for dinner. This idea was shared with me by a friend and has worked wonders!

  • 2. Another great tool I use is the ability to buy and cook a big hunk of meat and make more then one meals out of it: The best thing I buy that always makes more then one meal is a big roast. we usually just use a rump roast, i get it at walmart but i price match it to wherever it is on sale.first i make like a regular pot roast with potatoes and carrots. (did this last night) then... save the leftover meat and gravy only. then tomorrow night we will be having beef manhattans with the leftover meat, and all ill have to cook is mashed pots and maybe a veggie :) sometimes the second meal ends up being pork tacos too, or shredded beef tacos. * Another Idea for this is boiling chicken for my enchiladas ( you can find these amazing creatures in a seperate note recipe) and throw a few extra pieces in to use for chicken salad, or even shredded chicken tacos. OR I can freeze it in little bags and pull out for a quick dinner!



    1. This is a great post! Good job putting together a system that works for you and saves you money at the same time!!