7 Meal Planning Tips That Will Save You Time and Money

Easy meal planning tips

Looking to save money (aren’t we all)? Perhaps TIME? ✋ (me too) – but if you’re like me… you don’t mind cooking, you just don’t like thinking about it.

I’ve struggled with dinner time for pretty much entire married life (that’s 22 years people). If I had a live-in cook, I would be thrilled (any takers?). BUT I have found that when I actually take the time to MAKE A MEAL PLAN, I don’t dread that thought (or question from 5 out of 8 of my kids) “What’s for dinner!?”.

The irony of it all is that it’s not hard to learn how to make a meal plan. You just need to DO IT! So pull out your calendar, and pick a day each week and make an appointment with yourself to menu plan! Here are some meal planning tips to break down the planning process.

Note: I do NOT profess to be 100% consistent at this… BUT I can 100% attest that meal planning certainly makes life easier. Plus it saves time (no last minute 5 pm runs to the grocery store) AND money (no last minute 5 pm runs to the grocery store where you end up purchasing more than you went in for). Do you get me? 😉 (yes, I know you do. Thank you).

7 Meal Planning Tips

1. Make a realistic plan for eating at home

It all starts with a plan, right? So if you want to make sure you are eating at home, and that you stick to it time and time again, you need to make your meal plan realistic.

Don’t plan elaborate meals for the week. Be realistic… are you really going to have TIME to create a meal that takes two hours to prep, 5 nights a week? If you can do that… props to you! But I know for a fact that I can’t!

So take some time (schedule it in your week) to write down your plan. I love this cute pad (pictured above)… I don’t know why, but when you’ve got something cute to work with, it seems to make the meal planning more fun! 

Jars full of food

2. Shop your stock first

Before you make your meal plan, look around your home and see what you already have. Are there any meals you can make out of what you have? If the answer is no, see if you are just a few ingredients short of making a meal.

This can be a great way to fill your meal plan quickly, and save money by avoiding the store. You might have more food at home than you think! This is a vital tip if you’re meal planning on a budget.

Grocery store

3. Plan your meal plan around sales

After I’m done looking at what I have around my home, I pull out the weekly ad for my grocery store. This allows me to see what’s on sale this week to help give me ideas on what to make.

Planning your meals around sales will not only save you money, but help give you ideas when you run out! You can also save big money on meat if you buy it in bulk! I used to buy bulk meat from Zaycon Fresh, but now that they’re closed I’m looking to start using the Savory Butcher.

How to meal plan

4. Plan for leftovers

One of the downfalls of many meal plans is the inability to plan for leftovers! Whether it’s spaghetti or a casserole, you will usually have leftovers with at least one meal every week. Failing to prepare for these inevitable leftovers will cause you to waste food and spend more money on food you don’t need!

We plan one leftover night every week to eat up our leftovers, and use them for lunches for my husband and me.

3 brown eggs

5. Keep breakfast simple

When looking for something to add to our breakfast portion of the meal plan, we try to keep things simple. When the morning hits the last thing I want to do is whip up something for breakfast, so having something quick on hand helps a lot.

Go for something simple like oatmeal or eggs, which you can buy in bulk and save money! If you’re in the mood for pancakes or waffles, make a bunch on the weekend and freeze them for later.


6. Use up your ingredients

If you have a recipe that calls for spinach, don’t let the leftovers go to waste! Plan for a spinach based salad or put it in a smoothie!

This can help you save on your grocery bill because you’ll only be buying what you need, and using up every last bit of the ingredients you buy. You’ve spent your hard earned money on them, don’t let them go to waste!

Brown bags clipped shut

7. Pack snacks for when you’re on the go

One of the top reasons people will eat out is because they don’t plan for trips out. If you have a lot of errands to run and can’t make it back home for lunch, you’ll eat out guaranteed.

Before you go out, make sure to pack yourself a protein-packed snack to help keep your energy up and your hunger at bay. This should tide you over until you can finish your errands and get home!

That’s How to Meal Plan for the Week

When done right, meal planning doesn’t have to be tedious. If you plan your meals right, you can save money on your grocery bill every single week, and save yourself the stress of having to come up with something new every day!

Now that you’ve read our super simple meal planning tips and you have an idea on how to make a meal plan, it’s time to take some action! Don’t wait until next week to start meal planning, start today!

To make it as easy as possible, you can check out these 30-minute meal ideas, write some down your favorites for the week, and then you just have to go shopping. Remember to try and have some fun with your meal planning. The more fun it is, the more likely you are to stick to it.

What has worked for you when it comes to meal planning?

How to meal plan for the week (7 tips)


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