Meal Planning

I had a lot of questions about how I meal plan after posting my most recent grocery store receipt savings. I promise it’s super easy and doesn’t take a lot of time to do but makes a huge difference in our week. I’m not a crazy coupon cutter (anymore) I just try and shop whatever is on sale, pick out a few meals for the week and not stress about what’s for dinner until the following week. My goal is to keep our weekly shopping trip to $100′ish. Some weeks I nail it, some weeks I go over (especially if I’m stocking up on paper products). Oh, and wine is a separate budget since I purchase in bulk at discount. If it’s a crazy week that I don’t have time to meal plan for, chances are I’m either making 3 trips to the grocery store that week to pick up random ingredients or we’re driving through Chick-fil-a, grabbing takeout or ordering pizzas.

Here is my ridiculously easy meal plan strategy…

Step 1: Subscribe to Your Weekly Grocery Store Email

I actually subscribe to two grocery store ads — Publix & Harris Teeter. On Wednesdays when the email ads are delivered to my inbox I’ll take a peek at both and see which one has better deals advertised and then delete the other ad. This takes me literally 90 seconds, if that. I’m just skimming the email to see the best deals, not combing through each page of the ad. Also, if one store is offering a discount like $10 off $100, I almost always pick that ad to shop from.

Step 2: Scan the Grocery Store Ad for Proteins & Produce

Proteins and produce tend to be the more expensive items on my list so I start there. Pork tenderloin, chicken, ground beef and ground turkey are our most popular dinner proteins so each week I stock up on whichever ones are on sale and throw some of it in the freezer. And produce, my goodness, we eat SO much produce each week. To save money I purchase fruits and veggies that are on sale or in season. Lately we’ve been eating a TON of watermelon, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Step 3: Select Your Recipes

Once I know which meats I’m working with I’ll build my menu. If I don’t already have a recipe in mind I’ll resort to my Pinterest boards. My requirements are: simple, no fancy or expensive ingredients, somewhat healthy and easy to double. I don’t like to cook every night so I usually double my recipes to ensure I have leftovers for the following night. This allows me to cook only a few nights during the work week and reheat or re-purpose leftovers the next night. On Fridays we grill out and we go out for dinner at least once a week.

Also, during the week the kids usuallyย eat what we’re eating, but if it’s something I know they won’t like I’ll give them a lunchable, PBJ or cereal (their favorite). For the record, I have zero mom guilt over that.

Step 4: Round Out Your List

After I’ve selected my meals I check my pantry stock to see what I’m out of that I need to complete a recipe. Then I add in our weekly staples (milk, beer, frozen fruit, yogurt, coffee creamer, etc.) and pre-bagged salad kits for lunches for me and Matt.

Sample Meal Plan

Meal Plan Example 1:

*Last week chicken and pork tenderloin were on BOGO sale.

Monday: crockpot pork carnitas, roasted sweet potatoes & green beans

Tuesday: leftover pork carnitas — for tacos!

Wednesday: crockpot buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potatoes

Thursday: leftovers planned but impromptu dinner out instead (leftovers used for lunch the following day)

Friday: grilled pork tenderloin with peach salsa (recipe coming next week)

Saturday: dinner out (date night)

Sunday: frozen pizza

Meal Plan Example 2:

*This week ground turkey & ground beef were on sale.

Monday: turkey lettuce wraps

Tuesday: leftover turkey lettuce wraps

Wednesday: ground turkey taco bowls with spanish cauliflower rice

Thursday: leftover ground turkey taco bowls with spanish cauliflower rice

Friday: burgers & fries

Saturday: dinner out

Sunday: steaks, sauteed mushrooms & sweet potatoes

Now share your meal planning tips!

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17 Comments

  1. Laura
    August 29, 2018 / 6:36 am

    Did you know you can use competitor coupons at HT? So if your other store has $10 off a $100 order, just bring to HT and they accept it! We are die hard HT shoppers over here and do their online ordering ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Christina
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 5:42 pm

      YESSS! Publix will take HT coupons and HT will take Publix! The best!

  2. August 29, 2018 / 7:04 am

    Love this! My best tip is to make it something you enjoy/look forward to if possible. I like to sit down on Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and peruse recipe books/pinterest for some meal inspiration. I have a weekly calendar that I use to write down the meals/leftovers/plans to go out for each day, then make my grocery list based on what we need to restock on (weekly essentials) and what we need for our meals that week. Oh! And a HUGE help is that I grocery shop online and then pick up my groceries the next morning (so everything’s nice and fresh) curbside. That way, I can sort any product I’m shopping for by price to see what the best sale is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Christina
      Author
      August 29, 2018 / 5:42 pm

      Great tips!!!

  3. Jessica S
    August 29, 2018 / 9:44 am

    Does the $75 include stuff for breakfast and lunch? What about snacks? And snacks for the kids? What about pantry staples or milk, juice, other drinks? I can’t even fathom spending only $75 a week at the grocery store but I live in Boston so maybe prices are higher!!??

    • Christina
      Author
      August 30, 2018 / 4:47 pm

      Yes, breakfast is normally simple — larabar or smoothie. Lunches are bagged salads or leftovers for me and matt (if we don’t have business lunch meetings) and daycare provides the kids breakfast, lunch and snacks! But we do purchase lots of fruit and stock the pantry on crackers, granola bars, etc. for snacks on the weekends.

  4. Kate
    August 29, 2018 / 11:25 am

    My husband is trying to eat low-carb, and it has actually made meal-planning EASIER for me. Each week we stock up on a selection of proteins like shrimp, marinated beef tips, chicken sausages, and ground turkey/chicken, and a selection of vegetables like broccolini, green beans, salad greens, and frozen Trader Joe’s veggie sides. Dinner is just a vegetable and a protein, and I’ll add rice to mine or have a bowl of cereal too since I’m pregnant.

    This works great if your kids still aren’t eating dinner with you. Our son is 18 months and goes to bed before we eat, so he has leftovers, frozen meatballs, frozen peas, cut-up fruit, crackers, and cheese for dinner before bedtime.

    • Christina
      Author
      August 30, 2018 / 5:01 pm

      we do a LOT of meat & one veggie! so easy and healthy! And I love the bowl of cereal. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. August 29, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    That is great idea to look at the produce and protein in the sale ad! It’s definitely the most expensive item each week. Great post!

  6. August 29, 2018 / 2:27 pm

    I love meal planning! Although I do try to save money doing it, I mostly do it for macro counting LOL. I am also super picky about meat and mostly only eat chicken (thin sliced, boneless, skinless). These are all great tips!

  7. Laura Hill
    August 29, 2018 / 4:57 pm

    Does this include everything for lunches and breakfast ?!?

  8. JEN EDWARDS
    August 30, 2018 / 8:41 am

    After I get HTโ€™s weekly email, I always hop on to their app to add the digital e-vic coupons to our account!

  9. Crystal Workman
    August 30, 2018 / 9:45 am

    Download the Flipp app. It’s free and compares flyers, so if you need something specific, type it in and it’ll bring up the ads. OR you can look at your favorite ads all in one place.

    • Christina
      Author
      August 30, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?! omg. downloading now.

  10. Nicole
    August 30, 2018 / 10:10 am

    “For the record, I have zero mom guilt over that.” ALL THE PRAISE HANDS. YES, GIRL! Mom high-five!

    • Christina
      Author
      August 30, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lexie
      September 5, 2018 / 12:55 pm

      Amen!

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