Learn how to start meal planning and save time and money!
Are you afraid to start meal planning because of certain assumptions you have? Do you think meal planning is boring and a waste of time? This post will walk you through the benefits of meal planning and give you a clear idea on how to save money on your food bill using meal planning.
I’ve been meal planning most of my adult life without even realizing it. You see, back at Central Michigan University times were tough. I was paying for my tuition with student loans and being the frugalista that I am, I took out the minimal amount to cover tuition only.
I then worked full-time to make ends meet at a daycare making around $4-5 an hour. Needless to say, that money did not go far when it came to buying needs like food and most wants were left as gifts from my parents and grandparents (thanks, guys)!
So after leaving the dorms where I had a cafeteria meal plan allowing me to eat whatever I wanted twice a day, I started meal planning on my own for two main reasons:
- I only went to the store once a week because I rode a bike (until it was stolen – hard times!).
- I was on a very fixed income. This meant I needed my food to last the entire week until I could pump those pedals to the store again.
So after this struggling college experience, I was conditioned to continue meal planning.
After I started living off a teacher’s salary and was making more money, I also had more bills – like paying back those yucky student loans! So with that, I continued my frugal meal planning ways.
After blogging for a little over a year and writing several meal planning posts, I realized how some of us are meal planners and some are just not!
Yet, if you are not into meal planning but are in dire need to save money – and let’s face it, we could all stand to save a little money – then meal planning is for you!
Regardless of your situation, saving money on food is an easy way to keep your budget on track or put a little extra spending money in your pocket.
Yet, there are some nasty rumors floating around out there about meal planning! So I’ve taken it upon myself to debunk the myths of meal planning in this post.
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Top 7 Lies about Meal Planning:
#1 Meal planning is boring
Meal Planning doesn’t have to be boring! You can spice it up any way you like! I suggest using items you already have on-hand to start your meal plan, but then add some recipes you really like or want to try. You can do a few higher-priced meals if you balance them out with a lower-priced meal like my tuna noodle for only $3!!
#2 You can never eat out
In my first meal planning post, I encouraged you to treat yourself to a night out! Please check it out here: Meal Planning on a Budget. Yet, I suggest ways to save on dining out like going out to eat on a Monday. Restaurants are usually less busy and offer specials to try to pull people in on their off days. Also, try going out and sharing a pizza with the family. This is a fun night out, but one pizza usually cost around $20 for the family (in my area anyway) and if you drink water, that’s a pretty fair price for a family of four.
#3 You have to stick to a strict plan
If you are spontaneous I urge you to keep that up! Do your meal planning in advance. Then wait until the day of to pick what meal you want to make! In this way, you can enjoy your variety and spontaneity but know you have all your ingredients on-hand.
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#4 You eat the same food all week
Let’s be real…I’ve read some meal plans online that basically eat the same food the entire week. This would be mundane and even I would shy away. However, my lowest price meal plan, Two Weeks for $40 of dinners, has a good variety like pizza and pancakes and you only repeat by eating leftovers once!
#5 Not worth the time
Maybe you aren’t into saving time and money, but if you add how much time you or your spouse is spending making last-minute trips to the store, you would be amazed. Even if you are only going to the store for 25 minutes a day that is almost three hours a week.
If you spend around 30 minutes of meal planning and around an hour shopping, you will save time and money. You will not be tempted to make impulse buys on those days you are running back into the store hungry. Nonetheless, I only grocery shop twice a month, except for grabbing a few fresh produce items here and there.
#6 I don’t want to coupon
The meal plans listed on my blog, do not need extra couponing unless you want to take less off your bill. I do suggest shopping sales cycles, however, many items purchased are listed at full price.
One trick I use to cut more money off my grocery bill when I get home is an app called Ibotta. This app has saved me over a hundred dollars thus far. All you have to do is upload your grocery receipt. To receive a $10 bonus, sign up through my Ibotta link here.
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#7 I Can’t Eat Healthily
Yes, it is true, some bare-bones meal plans don’t include fresh fruit and vegetables, but depending on your budget, you can add in healthy foods. Since my meal plans are usually two weeks, I try to use my fresh produce and perishables in the first week, so that they do not go bad and waste food! If there is one thing I dislike, it is wasting food!
Nonetheless, incorporate foods you like so you will stick with it. If you buy food to make salads for three or four nights a week, you will still be spending WAY less than you would have at a restaurant or for takeout. So bring on the healthy food and start your plan!
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How to Start Meal Planning
If you are having a hard time getting started, use one of my meal plans listed here. Also, be sure to grab your free meal plan and menu templates by clicking the button below:
- Budget-Friendly Meal Plan
- Two-Week Budget-Friendly Meal Plan for Under $75
- How to Create a $40 Meal Plan Your Family Will Love
- 14 Effortless Fall-Budget Meals for Under $75
- Summer Budget Meal Plan
Be on the lookout for more meal plans in the near future! Also, sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post:
Another option is using a service such as $5 dollar meal plan. This meal planning service does the work for you for only $5 a month.
The best part is you get a 14-day free trial to see if it is for you by clicking my link: $5 meal plan
Meal Planning Books
Here are some awesome meal planning books found on Amazon for reasonable prices with an above four-star review:
Meal Prep: 101 Superfast and Easy Prep-and-Go Healthy Whole Food Recipes to Lose Weight and Heal Your Body (Picture Cookbook, Meal Planning, Meal Prep Recipes, & Meal Prep Cookbook)
The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go
Paleo Meal Planning on a Budget
7 Lies You’ve Heard About Meal Planning Conclusion…
Meal planning has literally changed my life. My husband and I don’t haggle over what’s for dinner. Also, my kids don’t get hangry while waiting for mom to make last minute trips to the store. Don’t believe the lies you’ve heard about Meal Planning. It’s all about good food, fun, and more family time!
Take care – Sarah
Do you like meal planning? Would you be willing to give meal planning a try? Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you!