Your Meal Planning Questions Answered

Meal planning saves money. This is no surprise, and when we always know the answer to the dreaded “what’s for dinner?” question, we have less stress. I don’t know about you, but more money and less stress is always a bonus in my book.

Meal planning really needs to be designed around YOU. When do you get paid? When are the bills due? What does your week even look like? Are there nights when you’re not even home for dinner? All these things need to be taken into consideration when you’re planning a menu for your family.

I plan meals for all 7 days of the week because our family is always home for dinner, and with our schedule, we do not eat out a lot. I also only plan meals for dinner because Anthony and I always eat at school (where I work), and DJ’s breakfast plans vary. For lunch, again, Anthony and I eat at school, and DJ, depending on his schedule will make sandwiches, or bring leftovers with him to work. When shopping, I usually hit 3-4 stores every week, and sometimes more if there is a good sale on. I optimize the weekly sales from the Wednesday paper, and use this to plan my weekly shopping trips. This is what works for our family, but yours may be different.

Your meal plans are so cheap! Where do you buy your groceries?

When planning my menus, I use Walmart Grocery because the cost of groceries is pretty universal across America, but when I actual shop for my groceries, I shop at all of my local grocery stores, taking advantage of all the sales!

On Wednesday, the weekly sale flyers get delivered with the newspaper. If you don’t get a newspaper delivered every day, sign up with your e-mail address to your local grocery stores mailing list, and get the flyers delivered right to your inbox. They usually send your exclusive coupons too, just for joining, which will save you even more money. I also clip coupons every Sunday when I get the paper to really maximize my savings on groceries – especially since our Kroger store doubles manufacturer coupons! Cha ching!

How do you buy the groceries for your monthly meal plans? All at once? Once a week?

When planning my monthly menus, I create the grocery list for the entire month, because this allows me to find out the final cost of groceries for the entire month, but I actually shop weekly for my groceries, taking advantage of the sales at all of my local grocery stores and maximizing the freshness of my vegetables and fruits.

However, if there is a great sale on, like this week, my local Sprouts had boneless, skinless, chicken breast on sale for $1.88 a pound, I will stock up on that item for the rest of the month.

Most menus are just for dinner, but what about breakfast and lunch?

I work as the chef at the preschool that Anthony goes to, and we serve breakfast and lunch at the school, so Anthony and I eat at school, eliminating the need to plan a menu for breakfast and lunch. On the weekends, we make breakfast together, and usually add some extra bacon and eggs to the menu.

If you’re looking to add breakfast and lunch to the menu, here is an example of a week of breakfast and lunches that will help keep your budget down, and your tummy full!


Breakfast – bagels and cream cheese, apples
Lunch – tomato soup, cheese and crackers


Breakfast – breakfast burritos
Lunch – ham and cheese sandwich, baby carrots


Breakfast – yogurt and homemade granola, banana
Lunch – leftovers from last nights dinner


Breakfast – bagels and cream cheese, banana
Lunch – turkey and cheese wrap, baby carrots


Breakfast – breakfast burritos
Lunch – cheese, crackers, leftover lunch meat, baby carrots


Breakfast – pancakes, bananas
Lunch – tomato soup and grilled cheese croutons


Breakfast – bacon and eggs
Lunch – leftovers

What about coupons?

Use coupons!! I clip coupons, I print coupons, and I load digital coupons to my store cards for my local grocery stores to optimize on my savings. Our local Kroger, and Safeway both have an awesome app for both my phone and tablet that I can load exclusive coupons to, and they will be applied right at checkout. It’s pretty great, and I have saved a ton of money, and the more you use your card, the more you save. The digital coupons I get now are really geared to the things I buy – like 28 oz canned tomatoes (which I use in EVERY menu plan) are only $1.07 with my coupon – saving me about $0.50 a can – when you are buying 6 cans, that’s $3 savings – and those little savings add up!

Take full advantage of your store coupons, and watch the savings pile up. If you really pay close attention to your sale flyers, some stores even have double or triple coupon days. Watch those savings add up!

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Comments (57)

  • I am tired of making the same things for dinner, can’t wait to hear more! Sending a warm welcome hug!

  • Americans are always ahead of us Canadians for grocery shopping on a budget and price-matching. I’m looking into starting to do this too (the price of a head of cauliflower last week at the store was 6.99 — not even organic). I mostly use app flyers…wondering if that can be used for price-matching at most stores or if they still want the hard copy flyer. Thanks for the tips and tricks, will definitely be coming back to this!!

  • I love how organized you are! Such great tips, and the more you pre-planned, the healthier we tend to eat. You’ve inspired me!

  • Awesome yet simple Breakfast and Lunch menus! We can definitely use those here. So often, after getting our youngest on the bus at 11a we ask each other whats going on for lunch with absolutely no clue on what to make. This would help out a great deal.

  • meal planning is such a great idea. saves time, money and space. we are trying to do that more ahead of time

    Melinda Jana
  • I actually don’t meal plan but with food prices going through the roof, I think I will have to start.
  • I do a huge shopping trip for groceries at the beginning of the month. I buy all of the usual items, and stuff I’d like to use. I take meal plans into consideration, as well as events and holidays. I do plan some meals, like the meals we usually have every month and make sure I get stuff for those. Then I look at meal planning for the weeks. We don’t always like to plan because our moods change, but we like to have options everyday. So I research new recipes and look through old ones and we will discuss what sounds good, then I plan accordingly. If I need to get something for it and can’t that day, we put it off til I can get to the store and make a meal with what we have. But like I said, I buy a lot of general items so most meals can be made with what we have and what I buy, so that’s nice.
    I’d like to make a meal plan calendar for the week but my kids are picky and change their minds often, and stuff comes up in which we have to change plans, or whatever. So I just settled on weekly options. I’d write down a list of choices and we cross them off as we use them. And add more if the ideas come up. And they only go on the list if we have everything for them. My kods, and husband will also make suggestions and add things to shopping list if they think of something they want or would like to try.

  • I love the idea of meal planning but it doesn’t always work, I do try it

    Margo b
  • Meal planning is great, but sometimes it doesn’t work due to how busy a person is that day or if you need to take the kids somewhere that evening.

    ivy pluchinsky
  • For the most part I plan out meals by the week, although some if it is done by the month and what is in the deep freeze. I like to buy items when they are on sale and this helps alot with the budget. Meal planning I find helps cut out wasted food, although not much of that happens here.

    Debbie S.
  • I plan out what I am going to make when going food shopping.
  • I need to try this

  • I really need to this would make this so much easier

    Crystal M
  • This is absolutely a great read. Sometimes when you get home from work you don’t have time to plan a meal so to do it ahead of time makes sense.

    April Bray
  • I have to start doing this

    Kristen mathieu
  • I will have to try this out. I am horrible at planning but you have some great tips!

    Kelley Murray
  • I’m so horrible at meal planning. It would make things so much easier if I took the time to do it.

  • I need to try this

  • Meal planning helps with stress and your budget
  • requires a lot of planning and prep.
  • I plan for the whole month at the beginning of every month. That way I go huge shopping only once. Then I do a fill in once a week. Sooooo much easier!

  • Awesome yet simple Breakfast and Lunch menus! We can definitely use those here.

  • Planning and cooking meals at home is a great way to spend time with your wonderful children.

  • I keep a small 3 by 5 spiral notebook (think Columbo) in my purse and as I think of meal things during the day at work, I write them down. This helps me when I go to the grocery. I do a pretty good meal plan each week that way. I know other people have schedules, sit down on Saturdays, and plan their meals for years, be we’re more of a day by dayer type house.

  • As a single mom on a budget, I find numerous ways to stretch more for my dollar. I will use meats ofr more then one meal and use veggies as a side and also use them in a meal such as pasta.
  • meal planning for more than two days out is hard for us because of money. I try to make sure I have meat, rice, potatoes, frozen vegetables and then throw them together however I think the family would like them.

    Monica Nuss
  • Great article thanks for the tips.

    Nancy Burgess
  • Thanks for the tips.

    Amanda McCullough
  • Great Post … I love coupons! Meal planning is so worth the work!

  • I hate being the one to have to think of meal ideas

    denyse Lee
  • Meal planning is fun. I find it interesting now that we have a fruit and vegetable delivery service. The rest of my purchases depend on what arrives on Tuesday.

    Lee-Ann Sleegers
  • I always plan meals.

    Jeff Toplak
  • Thanks for the tips!

    Amberly Gordon
  • I’ve just recently started weekly meal planning, but I’ve only been planning a week at a time. I’m definitely gonna try these tips. With a family of seven and one on the way, I need all the help I can get! 🙂
  • We planned a lot of meals but we do a lot of leftovers

  • Planning meals does save money. Use your leftovers for lunch or freeze. Make those meals stretch!

    Caron Kirk
  • I will have to try this.

  • I Get so tired of wandering whats for dinner too

  • I have tried meal planning before, but need to better plan. Sometimes I feel like we are eating the same meals over and over each week.

    Monique L.S.
  • I meal plan before heading out to the grocery store so I know what meals we are eating the next week and have a list of everything I will need for those meals. I find if I am not prepared and have planned ahead, we end up eating out. I do struggle with what meals to make though. I am not very creative when it comes to cooking, so that I need more help with.

    Jenna Mohan
  • We need to do this more, and we are planning on starting soon

    Ryan R
  • Thanks for the sample meal plan – good ideas to help our own family meals!

  • i sometimes dont know what to make for din din but we all start sharing what would we want and agree on one and eat what others suggested for the next days easy as 123 🙂
  • I started off with meal planning & good intentions and it worked for a while but as our 5 kids grew with hollow legs, it just got out of control. We now buy what we will eat for a few days at a time and that works! Waste Not Want Not

    Alayne Langford
  • I don’t plan my meals but I would like to I’m a person that cooks when it’s time to eat,I just get an idea on the spot

  • I do not plan as today I might think I want oatmeal tomorrow but the when the day comes the last thing I want is oatmeal

    Sheryl B.
  • Need to try this

    Jennifer Lo
  • I’m so tire of eating the same thing, We don’t eat out often and I don’t buy those ready made meals!
    I don’t pre-plan meal that much in advance because I don’t know what I’m cooking. I plan for maybe 3 days, I check the flyers for what’s on sale and plan my meals around it!

    Carole Dube
  • I love the idea of having leftovers for breakfast! Breakfast burritos are the best!

  • Thank you for the tips! I find it difficult sometimes to meal plan, but it’s so much better and takes the pressure off when I can pull it together. Now I just need to work on the couponing…!

    Erinn Lishman
  • This is a good article. I’ve read lots of them, but they never really appealed to me. I need to make my plan fit me. My biggest struggle is taking meat out of the freezer on time.

    nicolthepickle (Nicole Graham)
  • I can use a better meal plan

  • I wish I had more time for once a month cooking or was organized enough to do it. I’m not a huge fan of meal planning though it does save money in the long run.

  • I love this idea! Meal planning is so much helpful for me as a mom who’s always in-charge for everyday meal and grocery shopping. It will help me save money, time and most of all, I can make sure that we’re eating the right kinds of food.

    Ana Aquino
  • I get tired of having the same things over and over, so thanks for this. Meal planning would help cut that out and actually give me a plan, helping me with shopping too!

    Rushell Tuggle
  • Meal planning is one thing that I have yet to conquer! I am a planner enthusiast and I love planning my family’s days/weeks and such out on my favorite planner with all the stickers and gel pens it helps me feel in control and one section I need to add to my planner I just have so many different ideas for what to do and still yet to find the perfect format to use. But reading this post has reminded me to get back on track and finally solve my problem and start meal planning because there are so many positives to meal planning not to mention will save tons of money . So glad I read this! Thank you !!
  • Meal planning is great in theory but we never seem to stick to it. Maybe we will have to plan better when we both start working again.

    Nicole L

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