Easy Meal Planning

Are food expenses taking over your budget?

Do you often find yourself without the right groceries at home to cook a decent dinner, so you end up stopping at a restaurant or drive-thru as a quick fix to feed the family?

The cost of eating out adds up . . . the average American household spends an average of $3,189 every year! That’s enough to take them all on a vacation!

Or maybe your grocery bill is just way out of control and making it hard to get ahead financially.

Meal planning will save your budget!

As a busy modern family with more responsibilities than ever, we definitely don’t have enough time or energy to make complicated meals. I will teach you how I plan our meals and give you access to a free printable that will make meal planning so much easier for you!

This method will be:

+ Easy to follow
+ Practical
+ Delicious
+ Good for families
+ Adaptable

This method will not be:

x Specific diet-based
x Overwhelming

Easy meal planning is just that - easy!

Don’t worry if this looks like a lot at first. It’s really not complicated. Applying it is easy!

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STEP ONE:

Brainstorm what you want to eat . . .

Grab a piece of paper or your phone “notes” app. Write down 5-6 dinner options for the week. Include side dishes. The other 1-2 meals can be either leftovers, use up what’s in the pantry, or eating out. I highly recommend planning at least 2 super easy (even pre-made, like Stouffers) meals for the nights you are too tired or busy to cook. I usually scroll through Pinterest and this list of Quick Meal Ideas I’ve made for ideas. Sometimes the hardest part is not knowing what you’ll be in the mood for. I’ll address that later. For now, just get some ideas down.

Include 3-4 lunch ideas, 3-4 breakfast ideas, and any snacks or desserts here too.

Here’s what that might look like:

Dinners

  • Shrimp Scampi

  • Sloppy Joes + Salad

  • Spaghetti + French bread

  • Chicken Caesar salad

  • Stouffer’s Mac N’ Cheese

Lunches

  • Grilled cheese sandwiches

  • PB&J sandwiches

  • Leftovers

Breakfasts

  • Cereal + Milk

  • Fruit smoothies

  • Yogurt and Granola

STEP TWO:

Make Your Grocery List

Make your grocery list right away as you plan out your meals.

For each recipe you planned to make, write the ingredients you don’t have down on a grocery list (I use my phone for this too, either the notes app or just adding everything straight to my cart on the Walmart grocery pickup app).

STEP THREE:

Go Grocery Shopping

I use Walmart Grocery Pickup, so I just add all ingredients to my cart, check out, go pick them up, and I’m done! This is an incredible free service. I don’t get paid to promote it, I just love it.

Or, just go old fashioned grocery shopping! Beware of impulse shopping. Stick to your list.

STEP FOUR:

Set Yourself up for success with this easy trick

This trick will help you stick to and remember your meal plan. This is very important. Keep the meal plan you wrote on your fridge! I have a printable for you to make this easier (download below). Print it out (I recommend laminating it so you can reuse it) and write all the meal options you planned and bought groceries for down on it. Post it on the fridge so you never have to wonder what’s for dinner. Put an *asterisk next to any meals that require you to set frozen items in the fridge overnight to thaw.

This is slightly different than typical meal planning because you won’t have specific meals planned for each day. Instead, you will cook and eat everything on your list throughout the week in whatever order you feel like.

This will give you so much flexibility, and make meal planning easier to stick to. 

Example: I’m dog tired and it’s been a really busy day. Crap… It’s 3 p.m. What am I making for dinner tonight? *Glance at your fridge and look for easiest meal.* Well, I forgot to thaw any meat so I guess I’ll throw the Stouffers Mac N’ Cheese in the oven. I’ll also grab the ground beef out of the freezer and throw it in the fridge for Sloppy Joes tomorrow. See how easy that was?

You don’t always know your schedule ahead of time or what your energy levels are going to be like. When you’re super exhausted and tired, you can pick the easiest dinner to make that night.

When you have more energy or you remembered to thaw out some meat the night before, you make that meal! You’ll love the flexibility this gives you!

You still have to cook, but this takes the brain power out of choosing what to cook.

This Flexible Meal Planning Printable takes the guessing game out of “what can I make with the groceries we have?” and “what should I make for dinner?”

This is going to help you and your family be more consistent with eating at home, too! I use it and it helps me so much. I’m a busy mom of three who needs all the help I can get!

All you have do is:

1. Print out the Flexible Meal Plan

2. Fill it out with your meal options for the week (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

3. Attach it to your fridge

4. Refer to it when you’re trying to decide what to make for dinner

I highly recommend laminating your printable so you can use it over and over again with dry erase markers.