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The Willow Brook Life

Balancing Time, Money & Life

THE BEST WAY TO MEAL PLAN TO SAVE MONEY (LIKE THOUSANDS)

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You’re on your way home, possibly stuck in traffic. It’s 6 O’clock and what are you thinking about? Yep! Dinner! 😊

It’s the first time you’ve thought about it all day and now you’re starving. You quickly think about the evening like a flash of lighting streaking across your brain. Homework, baths, dishes, lunch prep, dog needs a walk, on and on.

The drive thru signs get strangely brighter. You can almost smell the food as you pass! The dinner options are many, answering that question, “what’s for dinner.”

Don’t judge yourself, I can only describe this scene so well because I lived it so many many times! We have all been there!

Don’t get me wrong, fast food has its perks. No clean up, and it’s pretty much instant upon order.

It has its downfalls too. Especially for the budget and waistline.

Check out these related posts:

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Food Budget

How We Cut Our Grocery Bill in-Half

15 Things You Need To Stock a Frugal Pantry

We Saved Hundreds By Changing This Simple Coffee Habit

 

See Cheap Tasty Meal Plans!

 

The thing about dinner is it doesn’t have to be hard.

I grew up in a home where every single ingredient had to be homemade. We spend ¾ of the day in the kitchen and 15 minutes eating the dinner. 2 hours cleaning up after it. (we didn’t have a dishwasher)

 

How to meal plan to save money

There were 6 people in my family. We canned everything we ate. Tomatoes corn, beans, even our own sauerkraut. We made our own bread, even noodles sometimes. It was sacrilegious to make a boxed cake for crying out loud. And something as simple as spaghetti took literally all day from the time by dad woke up to sear the beef tips, to the 6 o’clock dinner the sauce was “loved on.”

I learned very early on to HATE cooking. Sure the time in the kitchen with my sisters and mom were fun….sometimes. If I can forget all the fighting and sore feet. But the cleanup and the endless work was miserable.

Long story not so short after I moved out I wanted nothing to do with cooking and cleaning up. I wanted my honeymoon stage of restaurants to last……well forever! 😊 And I’m not going to lie to you I still do.

But there comes a time (when the kids come) that it’s time to “adult”. and it’s expensive! one of the best ways to cut costs is to meal plan to save money! Have a plan and refine it to save the most when it comes to your cooking and shopping habits!

Here are my meal planning hacks that saved us thousands of dollars on our food budget, kept us out of the fast food line, and didn’t consume my entire evening to make AND clean up!

First: Create a Meal Plan:

Yes of course, first you have to create the meal plan to save money!

Having a mapped out meal plan doesn’t only help you in the kitchen when everyone is starving. It helps at the grocery store too! Meal planning is as simple as writing down 7 meals for that week that you plan on eating. Having all the ingredients to make said meals. You can make them as simple or as special as you prefer based on your schedule that week.

Here is a quick look at a typical meal plan in my home on a regular week:

Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Soup and Salad
Wednesday: Roasted Veggies over Rice
Thursday: Creamy Sausage and Pea Casserole
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Hamburgers
Sunday: Gourmet Sandwiches

These are just a couple of my go to’s that are easy to make, easy to clean up, and easy on the budget.

Second:  Having the Right Tools

Having the right tools for any job is crucial for a successful outcome and rapid results. This literally can be applied to everything in life.

Certain cooking tools help to cook meals way faster than ever before.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Instapot. This cooking wonder is a beyond easy way to make dinner in a snap. From frozen to tender! There are literally thousands of recipes and blogs out there with recipes that help you get dinner on the table in as little as 30 minutes.

My life changed completely when we first bought a rice cooker and I didn’t have to worry about how the rice was doing while it cooked! Rice is so cheap and you can do so many things with it! The right tools for the job can make the biggest difference!

 

how to meal plan to save money

 

Third: One Pot Dinners

The concept of making a whole dinner to feed an entire family all in one pot is extremely intriguing to me! 😀

There’s a Youtuber One Pot Chef Show who has wonderful recipes all in the convenience of one pot!

You can do a quick search on YouTube or Pinterest or any platform to find some of these amazing dinner ideas!

Fourth: 15 Minutes Dinners

This is a life saver for those nights you have to rush kids to sports or are running late for an event!

Having an arsenal of 15 minute dinner recipes that are your go to’s help to take away the wait for a hungry family. There are tons of pinterestable posts on 1 minutes dinners. Print them off and keep them handy for dinner emergencies! it’s easy to have a few quick dinners in your back pocket that the family likes and won’t get sick of!

Fifth: Stay Stocked

I have come to the simple conclusion that having frozen pizzas in the freezer for those nights I just can’t stand the thought of cooking isn’t the end of the world! Keep your freezer ad pantry stocked with the tried and true grab goes. Mac n’ cheese, frozen pizzas, or jars of spaghetti sauce. These will guarantee quick and easy dinners that everyone loves. They may not be the healthiest choices, but you can always throw some fresh spinach in the mac n’ cheese or peppers and artichokes on the pizza! (gluten free/organic)

Are you ready to take the leap and start avoiding the fast food lane or take out? I know it’s a hard one to give up, but by being uber prepared you won’t miss a beat! I promise!

If you have any tips or tricks for making eating in easier and more enjoyable I’d LOVE to hear from you, as this is still a struggle for me to this day! 😊

Talk to you soon!

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