Meal planning is just one of those things I do. I’ve always loved the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This reminds me of the time before I started meal planning. Of course, before I had kids this was no big deal! We could whip something up or order something on a whim. Now that I have two sweet and very hungry, may I add, little boys I need to know what is going into the oven before “HANGRY TIME” happens.
Oh yes, my friends, there was a time I was way less organized. A time when I had two kids under two and I was pulling my hair out just thinking about making dinner. At that time, I needed a way to make things go a bit smoother in our household. The chaos of dinner time was real (and scary)!
That’s when I had a brilliant -not so new idea – to start meal planning. I’ve always been a budget-conscious person and I would make sure I had enough food for the week, but now I needed to take it to another level. I now had four hungry mouths to feed so I decided to meal plan for two weeks at a time. This saved me from going to a store with two kids more than twice a month. If you are a busy mom, you know exactly why I want to avoid the store with kids!
Why Meal Plan?
Meal planning, as mentioned above, will save your sanity as a parent. However, another HUGE reason to meal plan is one thing I LOVE – saving money. You may think using meal planning is a waste and won’t really save you much, but I have literally slashed my grocery bill in half by using some careful planning. The best part is, it only took me around 30 minutes to plan out two weeks worth of meals and complete a grocery list. It may take your more time the first time, but once you get the hang of it, it is easy peasy. Here are some ways meal planning will save you a ton:
Less shopping – less time in the store, less purchased
Using a list – using a list helps you stop randomly throwing things in your cart
Less waste – plan with what you already have and go from there
Less take out – no more Chinese food and pizza runs
Let me just say, I LOVE Thanksgiving food and I always stuff myself to the point of no return! I have hosted Thanksgiving a few times and it is hard work with a lot of fun and family mixed in. We are not hosting this year, but I am still planning on cooking a small Thanksgiving dinner for my family to enjoy together. With that being said, I am not a huge fan of spending over my budget for one meal.
Some ideas to save money this Thanksgiving include serving frugal side dishes and waiting to buy your turkey until one of your favorite stores has a sale – most do around this time of the year. If you are hosting, make it a potluck style dinner and all of your guests can bring a side dish or dessert to share and you can cook the main dish, turkey. Nonetheless, if you decide to cook everything it is a MUST cook up some side dishes that will not break the bank!
I have compiled a roundup of frugal Thanksgiving dishes from some of my favorite food sites to help you on your money-saving quest. If you are playing hostess, know that you can keep your budget in check and still make a delicious spread. Here’s to you and your family enjoying Thanksgiving and worrying less about your bills!
This avocado, turkey sensational sandwich is one of my favorites! Do you like meals that are easy to make, healthy and filling? How about meals that are budget friendly? Me too! This sandwich meets the criteria and your family will love it!
One of the best reasons to eat this sensational sandwich is it includes a super food: avocado. Avocados have been found to have so many health benefits, it is hard not to eat them! Their unique texture and flavor leave you wanting more and this sandwich will not disappoint.
Reasons to Eat Avocados
Healthy monounsaturated fats
Rich in other nutrients like Vitamin k, C, B6, and E
Helps cut bad cholesterol
Reduce risk of heart attack or stroke
Lower your weight by reducing hunger
Great source of energy
Kids love the cool green color
There are many other reasons avocados are beneficial to your health. There is also research linking avocados to fighting certain types of cancers. Why not eat one of these babies every day? Therefore, it is essential to find ways that will keep your family interested in this amazing super food!
When I was in college, I was on an extreme budget. I was taking out student loans and worked forty hours a week at a daycare making $5.15 an hour to make ends meet. I was especially excited when I received my first – drumroll please – $.05 raise. Making an extra $.40 a day really helped out with the bills. (ha ha)
After one year I left the dorms and the “meal plan” I had grown accustomed to was left back in Trout Hall. For the first time in my life, I had to start buying groceries on my own. The budget for my weekly groceries was a little less than $20 a week and that included everything. How did I make it work? At the time, I shopped at Wal-Mart and bought the same thing every week. Occasionally, my cousin would go shopping with me. I knew what the exact total would be when we arrived at the checkout and my cousin found this hilarious.
This was my first experience with meal planning. I wasn’t as organized as I am now, but I pretty much ate the same thing from week to week and stuck to a budget.
The college years were rough but I am now an adult and have experienced what it is like to make a decent salary. Nonetheless, I continued to use my frugal ways to budget for groceries and other areas of my life. However, since I made more my budget was higher than $20 a week for groceries. Funny enough, I still had a good idea of what my grocery bill would be when I passed through the check out because I allocated myself a certain amount of money for food and household items and used meal planning.
This is my third round of bi-weekly dinner meal planning! However, this time it comes with a twist! Why? A fellow frugal friend needed help. She had to find a way to feed herself and her husband for two weeks, but the kicker was she only had $35 for food. Realizing the need for low-cost meal planning, my “$40 Meal Planning Your Family Will Love” was born.
Inspired by her situation, I wondered how many others out there could use low-cost meal planning. So my challenge for this round is to keep your grocery bill around $40. Hopefully, you have some items on hand and you will spend even less, but if you do not, you will come out right around $41. This list is a dinner meal plan so let’s see how well we can do. Be sure to read until the end and click the printable grocery list to save you time and money! My shopping for this meal plan was mostly done at Kroger.
Keep in mind, if you are saving money on your groceries, you will be able to put money away for other important areas of your budget such as an emergency fund, savings account, or retirement fund. Cutting your food costs is one of the easiest ways to put extra money in your pocket. Not to mention, my $40 meal plan will save your sanity because you will not be rushing around your kitchen, like a crazy person, trying to throw something together when your kids are hungry. This is not a fun situation for anyone!
Have a taste for some comfort food? Pulled Chicken is the way to go.
If you are cooking for a party or your family, this recipe will not leave you disappointed. It is really super simple to make. Just pull out your good, ol’ slow cooker and crank it up to high heat. You will soon be ready to eat!