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What’s for dinner?
If I had a dollar for every text message I got asking “what’s for dinner?” before I even got home from work, I’d be rich!I’ve been planning my meals for years now. It’s become one of those habits that once you start, you’ll never go back.
In a given week, I will have planned 21 meals. I know what you’re thinking, 21 meals is A LOT to plan. I assure you it’s not as bad as it seems, plus the savings you’ll gain from meal planning will be more than worth the time and effort.
Creating a meal plan only requires a small investment of your time, and it will save you A LOT of money (I can’t stress this enough).
There are a few simple things you will need to do to get started:
- Look up (or pick up) the weekly sales ad from your grocery store:
When the new sales cycle starts at Harris Teeter, I go online to their website and write down any deals that I might be able to incorporate into my meal plan. There are so many sales out there, and it’s easier if you limit the list down to only food you like. You may also consider checking what deals are on Ibotta to earn a little cashback (and if you haven’t used it before, sign up through this link to earn an extra $10 with your first rebate. You’re welcome!)
- Keep a list of your current food inventory
- Write it down
If you prefer to write this down in a word document on your computer, or in your notepad app on your phone go for it. When you’re in the planning stage it doesn’t matter where you’re writing it down as long as you are. Personally, I use my own weekly meal planner. I love being able to have my grocery list and meal plan all in one place!
- A list of your recipes and ingredients
Pinterest makes it so easy to keep all of your recipes in one place. Plus, there are dozens of new recipes every day! I have a board dedicated to recipes on my Pinterest account full of mouthwatering recipes. My recipes are always handy whenever I’m meal planning.
- Know your spending limit
As you are creating your meal plan you need to be aware of your budget. Meal planning won’t save you any money if you are constantly going over budget. You need to keep this number in mind and evaluate your recipes to decide if you will be able to make them and still stay on budget.
It’s time to start meal planning! The first thing I like to do is look at my current food inventory and try to make meals around what I already have. For example, last week I already had taco shells, Mexican blend cheese, and beefless ground. I bought ground beef and tortilla chips and we had tacos with chips and salsa for dinner.
Once you’ve used up as much as you can of what you already have, look at what’s on sale. Using your sales ad, look at your recipe list and see what meals you could create out of items that are on sale. If you are still short on meals, then you might have to buy a few items that aren’t on sale.
Repeat these steps to create your lunches and breakfast meals as well.
Here’s my plan for the week:
English muffins and granola bars
BF: Peanut butter sandwich, carrots, apple, bag of chips, Oreos/
Me: Leftovers, whatever is around the house
Sunday – Dinner out
Monday – Breakfast for Dinner
Tuesday – Taco Ring
Wednesday – Crack Bread
Thursday – Skinny Shrimp Alfredo Pasta Bake
Friday & Saturday – Leftovers
Before we go to the grocery store or use Harris Teeter’s Express Lane service, I go through each item I would need to buy and price it out. Since the express lane ordering doesn’t calculate sales prices, I have to do this part manually. If you are over budget, you might need to rethink your recipes or see where you can make adjustments. If there is leftover money in my budget, I will get a few snacks for us. This week there was a special deal on ice cream fudge bars for $2, plus no express lane fee if this item was a part of your order.
Meal planning makes it possible for me to get everything I need for a week’s worth of meals in one trip. I know exactly what to cook each night without digging through the fridge to attempt to throw something together. Planning meals makes it easier to shop sales and saves me money at the grocery store.