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 – 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!