Meal planning is the new craze that makes every mom feel guilty about not having enough time to cook, prepare and freeze meals ahead of time. Not only are you supposed to keep yourself, kids and spouse organized but now you’re supposed to organize meals?! We all have a million and one things to get done in a short amount of time – even though it may sound like meal planning is adding even more to your plate (pun intended) I’m here to show you how to make it easier so you don’t feel like screaming when it comes to cooking dinner.
I don’t have this super elaborate system that I use for meal planning. I like to keep it stupid simple. Meal planning, to me, is there to help keep me organized and not ask everyone and their dog what they want for dinner. I don’t freeze any of my meals beforehand and it literally takes me less than 30 minutes a week. My meal plan is based on saving the most money (I will give more details about how it saves me money below.) If you’re looking for an easy, time saving meal plan than follow this five steps below …
Write down all meal ideas on three separate pages. Grab three sheets of paper (or print them from the Ultimate Financial Planner) and have one page for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner. Write down every single meal that you have every made, and your family likes, onto these three sheets of paper. This may take a bit of time to write down all meal ideas, but trust me, it’s going to make the rest of your life 10X easier.
The reason for writing down every single meal is so you don’t have to ask everyone what they want for dinner. All you do is go to your handy-dandy sheets of paper, pick an option and there you have it. You may even have some time to sit down for 10 minutes since you don’t have to ask what people want for dinner all the time!
Take a blank weekly meal plan sheet and start filling it in. You have your handy-dandy three sheets of paper with meal ideas that you filled out above. Now, grab those sheets and fill in your meals for the week. (See, this is seriously too easy.)
Remember to include a day (or days) for eating out. Before you harp on me for mentioning going to eat out – hear me out. Most of the people who blog about money or are financial experts say not to eat out if you want to save money. What they don’t tell you is that saving a few bucks a month isn’t going to get you rich. If you really want to eat out a few times a month then go ahead! Being extremely frugal isn’t what makes someone rich.
Now, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck then you do want to eat at home as much as possible until you get back on your feet. Also remember that I said you can eat out a FEW days, that doesn’t mean 5 nights a week. Having a meal plan helps us save money so we aren’t tempted to eat out as much. At most, we typically eat out once every other week. Sometimes you just need a night off from dishes and making dinner and it’s easier to have someone else do it for you.
Okay, rant over … now I’ll get back to the post!
Simply write a grocery list for everything you’ll need for that week. You have your weekly meal plan set up, now figure out every single thing you’ll need to get at the store. It helps to only have to make one trip to the store (saving you money in the long run.)
If you’re in the Facebook Group, you probably saw the live stream I did and I mentioned how I don’t use the grocery list in my Financial Planner. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because I love using the notes on my phone for my grocery list. It’s a lot easier when I think of something to just type into the notes and delete it while I’m at the store.
I’m totally serious when I say, DO NOT skip this step. You know how I mentioned above that this meal plan actually saves me money? The major way it saves me money is by cutting down my trips to the grocery store. I don’t know about you, but if I run to the grocery store for just one or two things I feel like it’s a waste of a trip. So I end up grabbing ten more items I obviously don’t need just to feel okay. (I know, totally unnecessary and I have a shopping problem … tell me something I don’t know.) I’ve seriously saved so much by only doing one grocery trip a week – or if I’m really good, doing one trip for two weeks. If anyone else falls into this guilty trap then this meal plan is definitely for you!
Check your rebates. I hate couponing. I am not a couponer nor do I want to do it. Because I am bad at couponing I feel like it takes waaaaaaay too much time for little return. I like things that are easy to do and don’t waste my time. Introducing …… Ibotta ….. the world’s fastest cash back app!
Okay, world’s fastest may be a little bit of an exaggeration. But I totally love Ibotta and totally love getting $50 or more back a month. Seriously, who doesn’t love getting money back on stuff you’re ALREADY BUYING?! No, I’m totally serious. Ibotta is an app you can use that gives you rebates back on groceries you already have to buy. You know how Ebates (aff) gives you cash back on stuff you purchase online? Ibotta is just like that but at the grocery store.
You literally just search for your store in the app, find the items that you have on your grocery list, scan your receipt and BOOM – cash back. I feel like you think this is too good to be true. The only way for you to find out the true beauty of Ibotta is trying out for yourself. Go ahead, click this link, to find out all it’s cash back glory. You know you want to … Just to peak your interest a little bit more, you can even get an extra $10 bucks for signing up through that link (yes, I’m an affiliate … why wouldn’t I share something that has already saved me tons of money and I totally love?) Now you KNOW it’s too good to be true – seriously, what have you got to lose except all that money back from groceries you could be getting?
PS – Altogether my team on Ibotta has gotten back $1,089.63 in just a few short months. (most people have already gotten back $100+ in less than 2 months.) If that doesn’t make you want to join I don’t know what will! Plus, the app is free, so don’t worry about spending more money to get money.
I really feel like I keep getting off topic here … Please forgive me and let’s now get back to the post …
Throw your hands in the air and enjoy the rest of your day knowing you’ve successfully meal planned in under 30 minutes and that was sooooo much easier and less painful than you thought it would be!
Wait, what? That’s really it?! You thought meal planning was this intricate maze you thought you’d never get through.
Don’t make meal planning too hard on yourself. You don’t have to make all your meals ahead of time and freeze them (unless you feel like it.) And you don’t have to feel like a failure if your meals aren’t organized like everyone else’s. Your meal plan is exactly that, YOURS. Whether you want to meal plan to save some time by prepping and freezing meals ahead of time – or you want to save money by cutting down on your grocery trips. Meal planning is there to help keep your sanity in those busy life days – don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
Maybe you just got stuck at the first step and don’t have any ideas on what meals to put down. Or, you’d just like a complete meal plan already done for you. In which case, you have a few options.
Meal Planning Options
Below are a few meal planning options that are already done for you. I have not personally used them but know people who have. They’re reasonable enough to fit in your budget and not break the bank.
Six Sisters Stuff: I see Six Sisters Stuff recipes on Pinterest all the time and they are fantastic. I also use one of their fitness plans which I totally love. Their meal plans range from $8 – $10 dollars depending on what one you want. Included is 6 meals, 2 side dishes, 2 desserts and a full grocery list every week. Very maintainable in a budget (and also could be worth the time it would save!)
eMeals: This is the same idea as the one above. The only difference is it has 7 meals as opposed to the five. You can use their app on your phone to see your meals and the grocery list. The price is $5 a month for a subscription of 12-months and a subscription for 3-months for $10 a month. They also have a 14-day trial – if you’re just curious to see what it’s all about!
Remember to keep it simple. Meal planning is to help make your life a little less busy. We all know that if you ask your spouse they’ll say, “I don’t know, whatever sounds good to you.” Making you even more frustrated, forcing you to go out and eat at the last-minute but then regretting that you spent the money.
Step 1 – Write down all meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can have easy access and not have to think of something to make for dinner off the top of your head.
Step 2 – Create your weekly meal menu using your ideas from above.
Step 3 – Make a grocery list so you only have to make one trip to the store.
Step 4 – Check your rebates so you can get cash back on the groceries you’re already buying.
Step 5 – Enjoy the rest of your stress-free night not having to wonder what to make for dinner! 🙂
Remember to keep meal planning easy. The reason I meal plan is to save money by cutting down on grocery trips and not eating out as much.
Here’s to a more organized (and only slightly frazzled) life!