How To Meal Plan Like A Super Star
The Kid & I:
So, we (meaning my son and I) have devised a plan to do plan our weekly meal plan every Sunday morning during breakfast together.
He is a big foodie fan, so this is always a fun task for him. My daughter, on the other hand, can care less. But that’s another story for another day.
We normally do a “big” grocery list bi-weekly at Kroger, Meijer, or Walmart, whichever one has the best weekly sales on the things we would normally eat.
Then we pick up any staples that we might need or happen to run out of at Aldi during our other bi-weekly “off weeks.”
This is a running list of the staples I usually buy whenever we do our grocery shopping at Aldi.
Want a free copy of my weekly meal plan? Just scroll to the bottom to print it out.
It will help you save so much of your hard earned cash so that you can pay down debt or buy what you really want.
Why is it so important to meal plan? Goals!
One of my bigger goals this year was to cut our monthly grocery budget down to $200, per month for a family of 4.
This includes two grown-ups, a child with an adult-sized appetite, and a child who eats like a mouse.
In prior years, our grocery budget was $350-$400, and we saw great success with setting our grocery bill at that amount.
That success translated to us being able to pay off all of our credit card debt as well as paying cash outright for both cars.
Yes! Free and clear with cash!
Yep, we could not have done that without getting down to the nitty-gritty business of planning out our weekly meal plan and you can do it too!
Here are some Tips That Will Help You Meal Plan Like A RockStar:
1- Check Your Pantry:
Start here because chances are you already have some cans of beans, veggies, condiments, and a stockpile of shelf-stable food that you have already bought and have forgotten about because you happen to place it out of your line of view. Check the back of your pantry to see what other goodies are hiding back there. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
2- Check Your Spices Rack:
Whether you have the spinny round thing, magnetic thing, the pull-down thing, or you just throw them all in a cabinet and grab whatever you can get your hands on, you have some sort of spice collection. Take notice and see which ones you are low on, those are going to be going on your shopping list the next time you have to get groceries. We tend to use have a stash of salt, ground black pepper, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, & Italian seasoning in our spice rack that we use quite frequently for all of our meal planning.
3- Check Your Freezer:
I am a huge fan of freezer meals because I do not enjoy cooking. That is not to say that I do not know how to cook, I do. However, I am short on time since I spend a great deal of time working. The freezer is my best friend when it comes to having meals ready to go. Just take your meal out and pop it right into your slow cooker and come back to a hot steamy delicious dinner waiting on you in 4-8 hours. Or, you can just reheat it on the stove and come eat when it’s ready. I love to freeze soups, casseroles, rice, pretty much anything we have that is leftover so that we have it ready for later.
4- Check Your Fridge:
Use up anything fresh like produce (fruit & veggies) that should be consumed within the week. These make for great breakfast smoothies in the morning. Just blend the fruit & veggies with ice and your favorite type of milk and sweetener and you’ve got a healthy breakfast on the go. If you’re not into smoothies, just whip up a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and top with your favorite dressing and some cut up fruit.
5- Check Your Weekly Grocery Store Ads For Loss Leaders:
These are the things that you can find on the front page of every grocery store ad. You may or may not need the snack sized oreo sack that happens to be on sale this week 10 for $10, but it may not be a bad idea to keep a stash on hand ready for when aunt flo visits and it’s all you can do to keep from griping at everyone for making you their designated housemaid for the week. 😉 All jest aside, I look for meats on sale on the front page, usually under $2 per pound to stock up & just freeze it until I’m ready to cook it within the next 2 weeks or until I have to buy groceries again the next time.
6- Only Buy What You Need For The Week:
I realize that this goes against the above suggestion in #5. However, sometimes we can all admit that maybe 10 sacks of Oreos isn’t such a great idea when we forget that we bought them last year and never got around to eating them. Thus, we now have 10 sacks of Oreos that have gone stale and not even Fido would dare give it a chance at a sniff. Only buy the things that you know for sure that your family will eat before it expires, otherwise, you will likely throw it out in the trash and waste your money.
7-Cook for an army:
Try to cook your meals all on the same day, if possible, then freeze the leftovers for a later occasion. This is especially great when you just have one of those weeks where work just consumed your entire day, or you made it home after a full day of activities and the last thing you want to do is spend another hour over a hot stove. Just go to your freezer, grab a pre-cooked meal, and pop it in the microwave, stove, or oven, and you’ve got a homecooked meal ready in 5 minutes or less!
8-Create Freezer Meals:
See # 3 and #7, because freezer meals are the best things since sliced bread and even that can be frozen as well!
9-Rely heavily on your slow cooker and pressure cooker:
See #8, if you spend just 1 hour or even 2 on a Sunday to prep your freezer meals ahead of when you’ll need it, you will have at least 1 week to 1 month of meals planned out to pop inside of your slow cooker/pressure cooker. Imagine home cooked meals every day already done for you by you and you can pat yourself on your back for being oh so smart about it too. 🙂
10-Keep a list of your favorite meals:
Chances are you’re a creature of habit & you’ll be eating the same or similar taste to what you are accustomed to eating anyway. And if you are not, you can try to venture into unknown waters and be more adventurous with new cuisines. Remember that taste is an acquired attribute, it is ok to go outside of your comfort zone, sometimes too. But do keep a list of your favorite meals to refer back to whenever you have a hankering for your hubby’s world-famous chili, you’ll know exactly what you need and how to make it. Looking for more meal ideas, try this.
We kicked it into high gear:
At the beginning of our marriage (before kids aka before adulting), I thought it was a lofty goal.
I mean, we were freshly married dinks (dual income no kids) and we thought we were living the dream after graduating college and landing our “real jobs.”
Even though we paid for our wedding in cash, we totally ignored the fact that we still had to repay our massive student loan debt on top of a mortgage and 2 cars too!
Dun dun dun, big mistake!!! :/
Thanks to finally kicking our tushes into gear, setting up a budget for our monthly grocery bill, and really sticking to our meal plan, we were able to save money while paying down our debt significantly month after month for the past 10 years of our marriage.
In full disclosure, creating a budget, making a meal plan, and sticking to it was not a cake walk by any means.
And it was worth it…
In fact, when we first started this journey of planning our finances together, it was the hardest thing we have ever had to do as a married couple and now a family of four.
But I will have to admit and that we can both wholeheartedly agree that it was the best decision that we could have ever made for ourselves and our family.
Not only does having a budget and a meal plan go hand in hand but when done right and done intentionally together, it will not only save you from dealing with financial strain but will also relieve you of the stress and burden from feeling desperate.
Knowing exactly what to expect, allows you to free up space in your mind for the ones who matter the most to you.
Thus, not having to worry about what may happen next because it allows you to build an emergency fund to anticipate the unexpected things that may occur.
We have finally found our groove and we want to keep that momentum going!
I hope that you have found these 10 tips useful in helping you create your weekly meal plan.
As promised, here is your free printable weekly meal plan to help you save time and money so that you can free up your hard earned cash for something you deserve.
Heck yeah, this is going to be tough, not gonna lie.
But you can do it because YOU ARE TOUGHER! Grrr!