Saving Time & Money Part 1 – Meal Planning

It has taken me years to perfect the “art” of grocery shopping and weekly food preparations. I have gone through much trial and error, wasted money and food, and stress over figuring out what to make for dinner at the last minute.

Like most things in life, grocery shopping and weekly meals start with a plan. Pick a time and day that you can devote to creating this plan. Most people dedicate time on the weekend. Personally, I like to make my plan before the weekend, typically on Wednesday evening. I also like to go grocery shopping on Thursday because the sale ad came out the day before and most of the sale items are still there and the produce is fresher.

This is how I plan meals for the week ahead. I write out each weekday on a sheet of paper and write in any days I know we are not eating at home (that’s not very often). Often I rotate the dishes that I know my family loves throughout the month so that they don’t get tired of the same ‘ol things. That being said, they rarely get tired of the meals they like so I try not to make my meal plan too complicated. I do pick one day where I will fix a new recipe. Something I found online or in a magazine.

This may not be the case for most families but my diet is a bit different than the rest of my family’s, so I also note in the meal plan what alternatives I will be making myself. At first, I felt this was an overwhelming task, cooking two different meals for dinner. Now that I have done it a few times and food prep on Sunday, this is a breeze.

Let me give you an example. If I make the boys spaghetti for dinner, I will take these steps to making myself a separate meal.

  1. I brown a pound of ground turkey (if my hubby isn’t home than I use tofu).
  2. Just before it’s finished cooking I put about half into a pot with natural marinara sauce that they will use.
  3. I start their noodles.
  4. I add veggies to the pan that has the other half of ground turkey/tofu. You can choose about any veggie, and you can use fresh or frozen. If you pick frozen, I suggest putting them in the pan a little sooner, so the meat doesn’t get dried out. I typically pick broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, mushrooms, onions and carrots.
  5. Just before it is finished cooking, I add natural marinara sauce to it.
  6. Once the noodles are finished cooking, everything else should be ready.

Easy Peasy! A bonus for me is that my meal normal makes two servings, so I have made myself two meals in one dish! If there are any noodles left over from the spaghetti meal, I’ll turn around and fix the boys baked spaghetti to eat another night. Love it! Two meals in one!

Okay, now that you have your plan it’s time to look through your pantry and cabinets to see what you’re missing to make those meals. If you already have items you can use, there is no point of getting more until you use what you have up. This saves space and money! Start your grocery list with the things that you need to make your dinners and then fill it in with the basics. When I say basics, these are the items you need from week to week. For example milk, eggs, fruits, veggies, lunch items, and snacks. Again, check what you already have so that you are not buying duplicates.

As I started writing this blog, I realized this was a lengthy discussion. I’ve decided to break it up into parts, so stay tuned next week for Saving Time & Money Part II- Grocery Shopping. 😀

Please share with us your money and time saving ideas when it comes to meal planning.


Plaid, Pearls and Toddler stains

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