What’s for dinner?

If I had a dollar for every text message or request I got asking “what’s for dinner?” even before 5 o’clock, 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:

A. Look up the coupon matchups from your grocery store:

When the new sales cycle starts at Publix, I go online to my Publix Coupon Matchups 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 the only food you like and the tried and true recipes your family loves.

You may also consider checking what deals are on Ibotta to earn a little cash back (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!)

B. Keep a list of your current food inventory.

Download this handy Kitchen Inventory sheet!

You don’t want to waste your precious money on food you already have! I personally love the Spice Inventory Printable from Creative Savings to keep track of all of my spices.

C. 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!

D. 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.

E. 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.

Now What?

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:

Breakfasts for the Week: English muffins / Smoothies / Bacon & Eggs / Toast & Yogurt / Veggie Quiche

Lunches for the Week:  Peanut butter sandwich, carrots, apple, chips / Tuna Melts / Lunch Meat Wraps

Sunday – Dinner out

Monday – Breakfast for Dinner

Tuesday – Taco Ring

Wednesday – Crack Bread

Thursday – Skinny Shrimp Alfredo Pasta Bake

Friday & Saturday – Leftovers

Before I go to the grocery store I clip my coupons, double check my list and out of pocket cost. I make sure that my budget can cover the grocery list and any extras I might need.

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 sandwiches. Since ice cream is a want and not a need, and I had a little extra left in my budget, I was able to grab a couple of them for our special sweets for the week.

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 had made it easier to shop sales and saves me money at the grocery store.


YOUR TURN: What are you eating this week? Let me know in the comments below!

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