If you are ready to quit being a victim to food cost then you need this meal planning guide.
The one thing in your life that can leave you stressed and broke is food. The stress of not knowing what to fix so you find yourself…
Heading to the drive thru.
As you wait in the drive thru for your turn to order you think about all the money you spend every time you hit that window and whip out at the very least $25 for your family of four.
I feel you. I was there too.
I wasted so much money on fast food. It was absolutely ridiculous.
As I was putting my family further in debt with these fast food trips I would begin to feel like it was a lost cause and I couldn’t change it.
Frustration sets in and you feel like a complete failure at one of the most important jobs you do in your home.
I hated it and wanted to change so bad.
So let me ask you.
Are you ready to make a change?
Are you willing to take a hard look at what you are currently doing and realize that it is wrong?
If you are ready then I am ready to show you exactly how I was able to stop those fast food trips and put more than $4,000 back into my family.
Learning how to put dinner on the table each night doesn’t have to be daunting and the results can be SO MUCH better!
I kid you not before learning how to change my habits the biggest culprit in my house that sucked away my brain power, time, and money was food.
It sucked away my brain power because I would typically get that mid-day text from one of my boys wondering what we are having for dinner.
And I’m pretty sure they just got done eating lunch so why in the heck are they even thinking about dinner!
Guess what I got to think about for the rest of day?
Don’t get me wrong. I still get that mid-day text sometimes but now I know how to answer instead of saying I don’t know and then heading to the drive thru.
Let me show you how to stop letting your TIME and MONEY getting sucked away in your meal planning guide!
Does this sound familiar?
Your money gets sucked from your hand in through the fast food window because you don’t know what you’re gonna fix for dinner.
OR you go to the grocery store to pick up a few things to put together. Only to find yourself buying even more stuff and spending more money. That is just how it works with us busy folks!
And then if you do decide to feel froggy and head home to figure it out then your time is sucked away trying to decide what to cook on the fly.
When I finally decided to suck it up and start planning our dinner then I was able to free myself from all those culprits.
You know, the culprits that eat up your time and money.
Yes, I only said dinner.
I still don’t plan breakfast or lunch. Although I am trying to get into the habit of planning lunch for work.
I don’t plan breakfast because I work a day job and as much as my husband would like for me to be that early riser who cooks breakfast every morning.
I’m just NOT!
He knew this before we got married. Just sayin’.
So, breakfast is out of the question. Maybe on Saturday morning. Maybe.
Just Plan Your Dinner
If this is new to you and you have never meal planned AND/OR you get easily overwhelmed (me, me) then just start with dinner.
By planning just the dinner I was able to free up in so many ways such as brain power of trying to figure out what we are going to eat when I didn’t have my pantry and fridge in front of me to see what we had already.
Remember I was at work.
And the time plus aggravation of trying to figure out what would go together to make a decent meal.
I’m not a heavy pantry and fridge stocker so we don’t have much just lying around.
I get easily overwhelmed when I don’t have a plan in front of me so life in general got so much better simply because I know what we are going to have each night.
I’m telling you I was a mess. A complete mess. But now…
OH and let’s not forget I was able to take our food bill down from over $200 per week to right around $120 per week.
Just from dinner?
Yes, we did A LOT of eating out.
It was very well known that many nights I took my family their dinner from McDs.
There were weeks that I would stop by the drive thru three to four times a week for dinner and eat lunch every single day.
This would easily add up to $150.
So, how was I able to get this done?
I’m about to show you exactly what I did. Every. Single. Step.
Your food habits are out of control right now.
But that is about to change for good.
Are you ready for the best decision you’ve made today?
Be sure to tell your favorite fast food cashier goodbye and your favorite grocery store clerk that you won’t be seeing her or him as much…
READY TO LIVE WITH LESS CHAOS?
Ever feel like you will never get to that place where you will cook meals every night instead of going through the drive thru and wasting money? The Meal & Money Toolbox as the tools you need to learn how to stop torturing yourself!
Step 1: What Meals to Plan?
Think about what meals you would like to plan.
If you work during the day, new at this whole thing or if you get overwhelmed easily then you may want to just stick to planning dinner.
You can always add more meal times in later.
It would be much better to start slow and then work yourself into more than to not start at all because you tried to bite off more than you can chew.
Since I work during the day dinner was the obvious choice for me.
I would like to argue that planning your dinner would put the most money in your pocket but truly I can’t since I don’t know your schedule.
You may work a second shift job so lunch would be your choice or third shift so your meal may be breakfast.
You have to figure this one for yourself.
Step 2: Brainstorm Your Meals
This is a good time to get the family involved.
Getting the family involved means you don’t have anyone feeling left out PLUS it makes it super easy for you to come up with some meal ideas.
Have each person to come up with at least three main items they would like to have, although more would be great.
Be sure to ask them what kind of sides they would like with those main items.
For instance, when we had our little brainstorming session my husband wanted pork chops, chicken legs, and fish. My oldest son wanted buffalo chicken, pork chops, and fried chicken. My youngest son wanted pizza, spaghetti, and tacos.
So, I took each of those main items and asked them what sides they would like with each.
From their requests I chose one, no more than two sides for each main meal.
A little later you will find out how I chose those sides to keep dinner planning just a little more simple.
That gave me nine dinner ideas without even having to come up with any on my own.
Oh, and they are ALL SIMPLE.
I’m talking just the meat with maybe flour and some Ms. Dash or McCormicks seasoning.
Green beans from the can and rolls from the sack.
Simple, yet tasty.
Here are a few of the meals I would fix in the beginning:
- Spaghetti with just the sauce and garlic bread
- Sloppy Joes with chips or fries (depending on how much time I had)
- Hot Dogs with chips or fries (same as above)
- Pizza and salad (the premix kind)
When thinking about your meals remember to keep it simple. Here are some more ideas to help you along:
- No prep meals that take only about 15 minutes. These would be like the examples I already gave above. Main meal salads would also work great for this.
- Think about slow cooker meals. You should choose slow cooker meals that only take about 15 minutes or less prep time. Also, I wouldn’t do any slow cooker meals that you will have to prep on the stove beforehand. Some examples would be BBQ Pulled Pork,
Vegetable Soup, Chili and Ribs. Some of these you can find in the BCP Meal Planner.
- Meals you can make from ingredients you already have on hand in your pantry, fridge, or freezer.
- Have an air fryer? These meals are super hands off. You just prep, put in the air fryer and let it do its thing.
- What about an instant pot or pressure cooker? I haven’t personally used either of these but word is that the meals get done super quick.
- Try some one pan meals. I fix these in my house pretty often. Some
on the stovetop and some in the oven.
- Still craving the drive thru? You can satisfy that by fixing your own take-out recipes.
- Go through the drive thru. What!?! You heard me right. You can still go through the drive thru as long as it is planned. For instance, we have pizza every week without fail. My son makes sure of it. Some
weeks I will buy it at a pizza joint and other weeks I will cook it. Either way, it is planned.
For More Recipe Ideas
If you are having a tough time coming up with meal ideas you are welcome to explore the recipes I have already searched over the internet.
Get started by going to the BCP Meal Planner and clicking how much time
you want to spend cooking the meal.
From there you will choose your main dish to get a list of recipes for that dish, then finally you can take a look at the list of sides.
Alrighty, go brainstorm your main items and write them down.
Now might be a good time to mention that you may want to grab a notebook.
We will be getting down some pretty important notes.
Step 3: Mark Your Calendar
Deciding what to cook for your meals is only one part of simplifying things.
For us busy cooks what is most important is knowing what is coming up and how much time you have to fix those meals.
Some of these meals will take longer time to fix.
Some you maybe even let cook in the slow cooker during the day. Some will be 15 minutes while others will take 45 minutes.
If you don’t plan out your meals then you may find yourself not being efficient with what meals would go with the best days depending on what activities you and your family may have going on.
For instance, my son has karate on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday so I know that I need to plan meals that take less time to prepare on those days.
Or, I know on the last day of every month I will be working later because I have to close out the books so on these days I may have something in the slow cooker for my guys to turn off and eat while I’m not there.
Grab you a calendar and sit down with the family and map out what is happening over the next week, couple weeks or even a month.
Write it all down.
This includes children’s practices, games, working late, going to birthday parties, attending a wedding, having supper with your in-laws, and on and on…
I would even write down birthdays and anniversaries for those you buy presents for.
By doing this you can add them to your weekly shopping list and not have to worry about forgetting anyone.
Keep your calendar in the open so that your family can see and add to it if something new comes up.
This is where the meals may change but that is OK.
It is part of it and you will learn how to adjust to it.
KEEP IT ALL IN ONE PLACE
All across Busy Cook’s Plan there are printables and worksheets that are provided to help you live with less craziness when you plan your meals and teaches you how to save money for those things you desire. You can now get those tools in one convenient toolbox.
Step 4: Plan Your Meals for Each Day
Now is the time to think about what meals you will fix each day.
Start slow and only plan a week.
The goal is to have one week of your most important meal choice (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) so that you are going to the grocery store only one time each week. I chose dinner.
You will take one day at a time, depending on what’s going on that day, pick a recipe that best fits the amount of time you want to spend cooking.
What do you have going on through the week?
Maybe it makes more sense to do a slow cooker meal because you know you will have to work late or one of your kids has something going on that evening.
Don’t forget your sides.
As a tip I would keep your sides simple.
You can even repeat them during the week.
I kept my sides simple by having rolls three times during the week; macaroni and cheese a couple times; green beans a couple different meals; and so on.
Don’t overthink it.
Just keep it simple.
Meal planning doesn’t mean you should turn into a gourmet chef.
In my book, simple, simple, simple is the way to go when I learned how to meal plan!
Good way to save some money is to start with using what you already have on hand then fill in with family choices.
Be sure to try to include something for everyone so everyone is happy.
Wanna put more money back in your pocket?
You will already save a ton of money just by planning your meals but if you have decided you want to have a budget or even just save more money then here are a few things to take into consideration.
Inventory Your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
The absolute best way to save on your first few grocery trips and get a quick win is to take an inventory of what you already have.
Take a few days and clean out your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Now what meals can you fix or start using what you already have?
You may find that you have the ingredients to fix some of your meals complete.
If not, then you will most likely find that you have the ingredients to at least fix partial meals so that you don’t have to purchase everything you need on the first trip.
OK, now with this list of possible meals check your calendar and see if they will fit in on any of the days.
If so, GREAT!!
Write them down on the day they work with.
So your piece of paper should have Monday thru Sunday listed and for each day you will write down what you plan for your meal.
Now, let’s figure out if we can save you more money.
Use Discount Methods
An easy way to save money on groceries is to simply plan your week based on the sale’s paper of your favorite store.
If you are a coupon lady this is also a good time to decide which coupons you will use.
Personally, I can’t do coupons. I’ve tried and they just overwhelm me.
One time I did use coupons but ended out spending more money than I would have if I didn’t use the coupons.
Some folks have it down to an art though. I’m so jealous of them. So what do I do?
I shop at a discount grocery store. That is Save-A-Lot in my area. There is also an Aldi’s but it’s forty minutes further away. Aldi’s is cheaper but not enough for me to drive the extra forty minutes.
So, if you have a discount store you can shop there and they do also have sales ads. Not too shabby.
If you still prefer to shop at stores like Walmart and Krogers then you can use an app called Ibotta (*affiliate link).
Ibotta lets you save on certain items right in their app by just scanning your receipt. So it’s kinda like couponing without couponing.
This is pretty similar to using the Dollar Store app to coupon with.
Here’s something else to think about that will save you.
Do you have leftovers?
Use the weekend to clear them out. Do a smorgasbord.
Store bought spices and sauces can run you into a little pile of cash so… Have you ever thought about making your own spices and sauces?
This is something I’m exploring now.
Quick Tip: Use produce and meats that spoil more quickly in the beginning of the week.
Requirement: Add two additional super quick backup meals and then keep two on hand each week.
So if you use one backup meal then on your next shopping trip add another one.
You will be thankful to have these one day.
They will be available for those times when something unexpected comes up or if you just can’t get motivated.
Face it, no matter how prepared we are there are still days we are just not in the game.
So these meals need to be quick, with few ingredients, and long shelf life. The simple meal examples I gave earlier would work great for this:
- Spaghetti with just the sauce and garlic bread
- Hot Dogs with chips or fries (same as above)
- Beef Stew in a can
You could even have theme days for some of your meals to make it super easy.
For instance, we have Taco Tuesday.
Taco’s are not too time consuming so it falls perfectly in line with me taking my son to karate.
On Thursday’s, we have Pizza Thursday.
Typically, this is the one day during the week that I will purchase take-out. Sometimes I will still cook the pizza.
Either way, it is a simple meal that can be put together because, again, my son has karate.
As a bonus, if we order pizza on Thursday from Little Caesars or one those places then I am able to quickly get rid of those big bulky boxes because the trash truck runs on Friday.
See what I mean about thinking ahead.
Used my smart noodle there. 🙂
If you need some theme night ideas you can get them right in the Meal & Money Toolbox.
So, now is the time to plan out at least a week’s worth of meals.
Step 5: Write Down What You Need
Never shop without a list
Now that you know what you will be eating throughout the week use your meal plan and write down all the grocery items you will need to fix these meals.
Write down everything, even if you already know you have it in your pantry or fridge.
Just write it down.
I could not tell you how many times I “thought” I had an item only to find out I didn’t.
So, by writing it all down first and then checking your current stock of groceries you will be sure you haven’t missed anything and throw a big ole wrench in your meal plan.
Once it is all written down then go through your pantry and fridge and cross out what you already have.
Finally, re-write out your complete grocery list of all the things you need on a clean sheet of paper.
Don’t forget the essentials like foil, Saran Wrap, etc
Step 6: Choose a Shopping Day
This may be the last step but it is also one of the most important steps.
Because if you don’t choose a day to do your meal planning and your shopping then it will be difficult to create a habit.
To be successful with meal planning you need it to become second nature.
Almost like there is a small twitch of the eye that happens when you don’t have your meal planning done.
So, choose a shopping day that you can stick to each week. For me, that day is on Friday.
It is the last day of the work week so I will have fresh groceries in the house for the weekend and I don’t wanna come back to town on the weekend.
This ole girl does not want to wake up on a Saturday morning and go shopping. Nope, not I.
Typically, my meal planning is done the day prior to my shopping day, which for me would be on Thursday evening. It may be different for you.
Just do what is best for you and makes it easier for you to stick with.
Now go out there and meal plan your little heart out.
By meal planning the only regret you will have it that you didn’t start sooner.
You will find that you will gain more time, more money, and more control.
IT’S UP TO YOU NOW
If you are ready to change the path of your future and starting working toward your money goals and desires. Do you want to pay off debt? Do you want to make new memories with your family? Do you simply want a spending cushion? Whatever it is, it is possible. All the tools are available in the Toolbox.
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