Meal Planning on a Budget

Menu on Table
Have you ever been in a financial pinch to where you have no idea how you are going to feed your family, or you just can’t figure out how to plan meals so that you actually can stick within your budgeted amount?  I’ve been there many, many times, however, I have discovered that when I plan my meals out, it makes my life easier.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  Think about it.  When you have a plan, do you think you will be scratching your head while staring blankly into the fridge trying to figure out what on earth to make for dinner that you haven’t already had recently?  When you have a plan, do you think you will spend more or less at the grocery store tossing odds and ends into your cart with the hopes that you can create 7 meals out of it all?  I have found that my kids and my husband actually like having a weekly menu to follow this way there are no questions, and if they don’t like something on my menu, then they will know they can come up with their own plan to have a substitution ready.  My kids are older so I do allow them to have something like cereal, eggs, fruit, salad, anything that they want along those lines as a replacement dinner, but they are responsible to make it for themselves.

 

Last month I created 26 freezer & crockpot meals and spent around $220 doing so.  It was so nice to come home and not have to worry about what I was going to make.  I just plopped something in my crockpot and it was as good as done.  It was a back to school thing for me….trying to get myself adjusted to the new school schedule and away from my summer free for all schedule, so I wanted something simple.  And it was.  Everyone enjoyed the meals so I figured I’d plan again but this time I didn’t feel up to making them ahead of time so I just made a monthly plan, created my grocery list and successfully created 30 meals for $155 {yes, for a family of 5} and that was for a MONTH worth of dinners for ALL of us!  I’ve been posting my dinners on my Instagram account because I wanted people to see that it isn’t all crappy boring food that I’m making, it’s everyday, good for the entire family foods.  

For instance, Sunday was my 2 ingredient pot roast, Monday was Pepper Steak and Rice in the crockpot {shown above}, Tuesday was Spiral Ham, Mashed Potatoes and Corn, Today is Ravioli and garlic bread, Thursday is Manwich with chips, Friday is BBQ Pork Chops & Veggies, Saturday is Kristin’s Sausage & Potatoes and Sunday is Chili for Football Sunday!  I’ll be featuring my Chili recipe soon so stay tuned for that one!  I’ll also be sharing my other weekly meals in the upcoming days, so you can see exactly what I’m making and how yummy it is! Here is the menu I have on display on my counter. It is just a cute printable I found online and I put it in a photo frame and I use dry erase marker to make changes.

 

Weekly Menu

 

The thing is, you have to take the time to figure it all out for the month. I found a blank calendar, which you can just use your own calendar if you have one, or find any printable online one to use. I took inventory of what I had on hand. What meat did I have in my freezer I could use? Did I have plenty of canned or frozen veggies? Did I have pasta or pasta sauce, and once I had my inventory list, I just started creating meals with it. I figured I had chicken breasts, ground beef, beef stew meat, etc…and I made meals around what I had and then just added things to my grocery list that I didn’t. I was shocked when my total came to $155 and I still had $70 left over from my budget. I used coupons that I had and I also price matched! I’ll still go out and get staple items from the store as needed like bread, milk, eggs, and maybe some items for lunches even though I stocked up on things like bologna, cheese and peanut butter and jelly. I think I am going to like this new plan!

Do you plan your meals for the week or month? Now that I am getting busier with work and blogging, I am finding planning a month ahead is a huge life & time saver!

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