Happy New Year friends! Can you believe it’s 2017? The last few days, I’ve been talking with some friends and quite a few of them really want to step up their game when it comes to menu planning for their families! Less eating out, better budgeting of their groceries and feeling more organized! This is one area that I really refined last year and I’m excited to share a few of my Menu Planning Tips for Moms with you today!
WHY DO I MEAL PLAN?
The #1 reason is because I’m crazy in the afternoons and evenings. If I don’t have a plan, then this mama generally gets takeout! haha! And that just gets rough on the budget! That leads into the #2 reason, I save SO much money when I meal plan! I utilize what I have at home and I am able to set a budget and stay within the budget much easier!
HOW OFTEN DO I MEAL PLAN & GROCERY SHOP?
I meal plan once a week. I used to meal plan twice a month and do main shopping trips twice. But, I found that I was over buying at the store and things would go bad, before I could use them. Then slowly my meal planning went out the door and so did my grocery budget. Before I knew it, I was literally spending $300-$500 a month more than I should be. And sadly, I allowed that to go on for almost a year. Then one day I decided to sit down and really go over my expenses and I about threw up in my mouth when I realized how much I was spending on groceries! I realized I needed to do something quick!
So, I decided to simplify and plan one week worth of meals at a time and then shop for that weeks groceries the next day. You guys, it sounds so simple and dumb, but it has literally changed the game for me! Meal planning and grocery budgeting works for me now and I’ve been able to do it for a long time now! Que the singing angels!
WHAT DOES MEAL PLANNING LOOK LIKE FOR ME?
I meal plan on Sunday’s when I am planning my week. I just write the menu at the top of my weekly planner! But, you of course, can choose whatever day works best for you! The first thing I do is put anything that I didn’t make the week before, on this upcoming weeks menu. Then, I start adding some of our families favorite meals. I try to keep a variation of proteins on the menu each week.
- one Chicken
- one beef
- one fish
- one frozen dinner
- one simple meal
I plan meals for 6 nights of meals each week. The 7th night, we’ll either go out to dinner or eat leftovers. We could eat leftovers more, but my husband and I generally eat dinner leftovers for lunch the next day. Also, because chicken is eaten best by my family, there is generally two nights of chicken each week. Here are some ideas of my families favorite meals that make a regular appearance on our menu!
FROZEN MEALS: Okay guys! Frozen meals will CHANGE YOUR LIFE! First off, let me tell you, there are some dang good frozen meals out there! I realized pretty quick last year that there is no way I can legitimately cook dinner 6-7 times a week. Then one day I was at Smith’s and walked down a frozen isle and thought, maybe I can do a frozen dinner one day a week. So, I really started looking through their selections and was surprised at all of their choices and how good they looked. Fast forward a year later, we eat a frozen dinners 1-2 times a week. And I feel no shame in admitting that. My family gets a great dinner, I get mommy/wife points and we’re saving lots of money by not grabbing takeout!
Here are some of my families favorites:
- Marie Callender’s Pot Pies
- California Pizza Kitchen Pizza’s
- Stouffer’s Lasagna
- Birds Eye Viola – Garlic Chicken
This way I can work on homework with my kiddos while dinner cooks verses having to slave away prepping or cooking at the stove!
Lastly, we usually have one simple meal each week.
I also wanted to mention that when I meal plan, I don’t actually plan what night we’re having what meal. I generally choose the night before. You never know what your mood is going to be. I found that when I was trying to assign nights, I kept changing them around anyways. The only night I generally always keep the same is Tuesday nights! Tuesday’s is our crazy busy night and 95% of the time we eat Frozen Meals! It takes so much stress away to not have to worry about meal prep and cooking!
SHOPPING FOR MEALS & STAYING IN BUDGET:
Figuring out my budget and how I was going to allocate it was probably the hardest part of this process for me! I shop at a few different stores, one being a bulk store. So, after a few months of trial and error I figured it out. I don’t have a super strict budget, but one that I have to plan for to make sure I stay in it. So, what I did is take my budget of $800 and split it in half. $400 for the bulk store. In that $400 I also have to buy household items like toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cleaning supplies, etc. Then the other $400 breaks up to $100 a week at the grocery store. Which I have been able to do pretty easily, minus during the week of Christmas when I was buying food for some big dinners I was hosting! WOOHOO, right? I HIGHLY suggest using your calculator as you add stuff to your cart. That way you can keep a good track of where you are on your $100 budget! If you have trouble staying in your budget, I would suggest doing online grocery pickup. It really helps train you on what you can get for $100 and makes it easy for you to remove items!
As I mentioned above, I meal plan on Sunday. Then I shop at the grocery store every Monday! I generally only shop bulk shop once every 3-4 weeks. This day changes each month for me! However, the one major tip I would have for you, is to stick to your list. YOU MUST HAVE A LIST! Because, at a bulk store money adds up fast! I do let myself buy one thing that is not on my list if I want it really really bad though. You’ve gotta have a little fun!
I hope these ideas help you and your families menu planning and grocery shopping!
What tips work for you? Do you have any Frozen Meals that you and your family love? Let me know in a comment below!