Planning or organizing anything is a big dose of calm for this mama.
For years now, I have tried to plan out our meals every week. I used to use E-mealz, but realized we were still wasting food.. so now I just do it myself!
Sunday is my favorite day to plan. Any day works though as long as we have a plan.
Meal planning is something that I can do easily in an hour of quiet time over the weekend. It does take time, but it saves so much $!
Typically, I open up my numbers file with the awesome meal planner Anna gave us for the 21 Day Fix (message me if you’d like this planner!) and just run with it! It’s an awesome form of stress relief…
I have two planners- one is for me… it’s super calculated, and contains a lot of information. The second is super cutesy, less info, and easier to read.
Because really… I like to use things more when they look pretty.
This is the cute, simple meal planner in my Erin Condren Life Planner. For the home, I just printed it and had it laminated at Office Depot and now it hangs easily on a clip on the fridge!
(LP Menu Planner)
The second is the one that I use to plan my containers for myself on the 21 Day Fix (this includes all of my container counts and personal snacks for myself and Connor, lunches, breakfasts, and dinners).
(This menu courtesy Anna!! I love this template. This isn’t actually my best planned menu ever- it was my first week ever to plan for the 21 day fix.. but it was already edited and cropped down.. hah)
This is the one I will use for making my grocery list and budget.
So, when I go to make my menu, I always check what I have in the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator that we didn’t use the previous week. That goes onto my menu first. Every day, I make sure all of our meals and snacks hit the right amount of fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. etc… Ours are calculated on our age/height/weight, etc.
I’m not about limiting healthy food consumption. Connor is welcome to eat all of the apples, strawberries, veggies, water, and healthy snacks his little body needs. But for our budget’s sake, once food is gone each week, it won’t be replenished until the following week. We’re trying to teach Connor about consumption, healthy eating habits and self regulating. Eating when our bodies tell us we’re hungry, not to just mindlessly snack. (because honestly, it’s something I struggle with!)
Some weeks are way better than others… and right now, we are in a huge transition in our life. But meal planning and sticking with the budget are things that can be helpful in crisis mode. It’s like a failsafe.
So… sorry for the side bar! I take what we have leftover, insert it into the menu and then fill in the menu with meals! I typically start with dinners (we eat leftovers for lunch from dinner), then breakfast, and snacks.
After the meals are planned, I just write down what we need on a shopping list and estimated cost for each item, and take that to Aldi. If my prices are estimated over, I try to nip and tuck where possible. Usually it’s right on though. After 6 years of planning I kinda have my groove. I’m always AMAZED out how much I can get in my cart at Aldi for $50-$75 though!
(LP Shopping List)
Our weekly grocery budget is $50-$75. For where we are in our life, this is what suits us. It totally may not suit you! That’s okay! Do what works for YOU. But find a number that works with your budget, and stick to it- that’s what helps us waste less, and stick to our menu.
I try to stick to organic for the dirty dozen (but don’t beat myself up if it’s not available… having a whole food diet is the most important part for us), and if I can find organic in other products for a similar price, I jump on that! My meals are pretty simplistic, but yummy. I stick to our favorites for 95% of the meals each week, and maybe toss in one new recipe to try throughout the week. That leads to less waste for us.
I recall this week specifically because we spent about $5 in treats (hello, potty training….) for the little dude and still came in relatively inexpensive. Granted, I do also recall we had quite a bit of veggies left in the fridge and freezer which helped!
I’ve given in to just shopping 100% at Aldi.. because well, it’s awesome. If I can’t find something that’s on my menu, I try to swap in store for a like priced item. No zucchini? Grab a squash… Out of fresh strawberries? Try the frozen organic variety.
My biggest idea as to why and how we stick to such a strict budget is that I don’t buy everything every week… we only buy what is on the meal plan. No excess. If we have leftovers from previous weeks, we try to use them. Less waste. We’re not limiting food, but just trying to reduce waste. AND there are only three of us!
I’m not gonna lie, I get balked at when I mention our grocery budget. I promise we’re not starving our kid! He eats okay (for a very picky toddler), and we eat well! He’ll eventually pick up our habits if we continue to be good examples and continue to try to get him to try weird stuff… because anything that’s not mac-n-cheese is weird to him. But progress is progress!
What are your favorite meal planning tips?? Favorite simple recipe??
Mine is probably Sweet-N-Sour Meatballs (my mom’s recipe… promise to share with y’all someday soon!), or semi-soft boiled eggs with dijon and sriacha.
Leave it in the comments, would love to hear your favs!