“What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know what do you want to eat?”
Sounds familiar, right?
My husband and I have been married for 7 years now and I dreaded meal time until I discovered Pinterest in 2010. At that time we had been married for less than a year and I had a tiny newborn at home. I had recently gone from full-time working student to full-time at stay at home mom. My husband had changed jobs and we moved to a new town.
Suddenly living on one income had become a hurdle we had to jump over. We were going to the store every few days and spending a couple hundred dollars at a time on frozen and boxed garbage. I was constantly sick from the processed food I was eating. It was then that I changed the way we were eating.
Since we were living on one income it was important that I was meal planning on a budget that worked for us.
It didn’t take long to find out what worked for my family.
MEAL PLANNING ON A BUDGET
Keep a pad on the fridge to write down what you need when you run out. As soon as you run out add it to the list. When you sit down to actually make your grocery list you will already have what you’re out of.
Set aside a day for making your menu plan & to go grocery shopping.
I shop on Saturday or Sunday simply because I need to be prepared and have a clear head.
Set aside a time to actually search for recipes and write down the ingredients you need.
I typically do this on my lunch breaks and while I drink my coffee in the mornings.
Ask your family what they want to eat!
That way they can’t complain when you include what they like to eat in the plan. We have to eat meatloaf meatballs and enchiladas at least twice a month because those are my 6-year old’s favorites.
Plan meals with similar ingredients.
This is one of my most common hacks when we have a meal like beef & broccoli is to plan something else with a beef roast. I buy a bigger roast and cut it up myself.
Plan a leftover night.
This will cut down on waste and save you money all at the same time.
Always plan your weekly meals out.
Put it on the menu! This way you don’t buy food you don’t need that will go to waste. If I plan a meal out to eat then I do my best to make room for it in my budget. I will plan several cheaper meals to make up for the inevitable $30 we will spend at a restaurant.
Keep a running list of your favorite recipes.
I have a board that I will re-pin recipes to on my Pinterest and I also keep our family favorites in Trello.
Get to know your grocery store. I have been shopping at the same store for 7 years. I can walk through it with a blindfold on and get what I need. This will allow you to make an organized list.
Only buy what’s on your list! This will take some retraining on your part but it will save you a lot in the long run.
Use free tools that can save you time and energy! I prefer to use a website that it meant for project type planning called Trello. I set up a meal planning board in there and I save my recipes so I don’t have to try and find them all over again later on.
Before I could get a budget in place I had to find out what kind of plan worked for us. I plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. For a while when I first started planning my menus I just planned meals that sounded good. That obviously didn’t help my budget. I figured out very quickly to keep my meals simple!
I don’t like recipes that typically have more than 5 ingredients that I have to purchase from the store. I plan out meals around staples and I don’t buy what I don’t need. If it isn’t on the list I don’t buy it! Once I figured out what worked for us I was able to put a budget in place and truly start meal planning on a budget.