3 Meal Planning Strategies I Use to Save Money Each Month

Creating and sticking to a meal plan can save you tons of time and money, but only if you know how to implement it in a way that works for your family. Today I’m sharing three meal planning strategies I use each and every month to simplify the process and get better results. Sound like something you need? Well then, let’s get started!

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3 Meal Planning Strategies I Use to Save Money Each Month

Well hey there and welcome back to this episode of the Financial Fix Up Podcast. I’m your host, Sarah Brumley, and if you are listening to this in real time, we’ve made it to the middle of June, which actually means that my family will be out of school starting next week for the entire summer. That’s one of the perks of having a husband that’s a teacher is we all get to spend over two months of concentrated time together. Which has it’s challenges, too, right?

But, knowing that we’re moving into a time of togetherness and nice summer weather, I’ve been working on some meal plans for the upcoming months just to get ahead of things. We like to spend our time outside, so I’m focusing on easy-to-cook meals or items that can be cooked on the barbecue.

And as I’m walking through this process of putting together our meal plan, it got me thinking that I should share a few of my go-to strategies that help me not only create a meal plan that we can stick to, but also decrease the overall cost of food and the amount of time we spend feeding our family as a whole.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. And I’ve actually got a huge list of tips, but for today, I’m going to stick to three of my favorites just to get you started. Sound good?

Tip #1: Batch a Few Meals

The first tip is to batch a few meals. Now, if you aren’t sure what batching is, it’s really just this idea of making a large amount of one recipe and then breaking it down for multiple meals. In our case, we love to make stir-fry type meals, so we’ll cook enough for four dinners, eat one, and freeze the other three. Now, when we need a quick and easy meal, we can pull out one of those frozen meals, thaw it, and simply heat it up rather than having to put together all of the ingredients and spend time cooking it.

And I actually plan those batched meals into my monthly meal plan so that I know exactly when we are going to eat the other three meals. Obviously this works for stir fry and chicken meals, but you could also consider pulled pork, soups and stews, and many other items. If it can be cooked and then frozen, it’s perfect for this method.

Not only will you save yourself the time of having to cook the same meal each and every week, but you’ll also save money if you can purchase the ingredients in bulk OR use those fresh vegetables before they go bad. And of course, you don’t have to have the same meal each week, but even if you doubled the recipe so you had enough for another meal this month, that would be helpful, too!

So, definitely a strategy we use and one I highly recommend. And it makes it so easy to fill out our monthly meal plan when we know what we intend to batch throughout the first week of the month.

Tip #2: Use Similar Sides

The second strategy we use is to use similar sides throughout our monthly meal plans. I’m talking about rice, potatoes, veggies, and whatever else you might use on the side of whatever protein is on your plate. We don’t tend to have a lot of variety with this over the course of the week or month.

And…before you tell me that variety is critical, yes – we do eat a variety of grains and vegetables, but when we create a meal plan, we try to keep those sides fairly similar so that we can purchase those items in larger quantities and use them before they go bad. So, for example, this week we might be focused on eating the peas and corn that we have in our freezer because I was able to get a large bag of each at a low price. We’ll also incorporate rice or quinoa (two staples in our home) onto the plates as well. Next week I may find an amazing deal on sweet potatoes or squash and then those will become our go-to sides for the week.

We do the same thing with fruit. Some weeks apples are the best deal and we consume a lot of apples, but the next week the price of apples may have skyrocketed and pears might be the fruit of the week.

Don’t be afraid to change things up, but also don’t be afraid to eat the same side for a series of days or weeks if it helps you adhere to a meal plan that doesn’t destroy your budget.

Tip #3: Know Your Schedule

The final tip I have for you today is to know your schedule. Uh. And this is probably one of the best tips I could ever give you because this alone has changed our life.

Think about it, you create an amazing meal plan full of wonderful foods, only to come home to meat thawing in your fridge that’s going to take at least an hour to cook the way you’d planned. The problem is that everyone in your family has a short window of time before their evening activities so, rather than spend the time cooking that meal, you’re left scrounging for leftovers or driving through the fast food joint to fill all the tummies. Not only did your meal plan not work for you, but now you are out money for a meal that you hadn’t planned on eating out. No bueno, right?

But if you take the time when you are creating your meal plan to look at your schedule and the activities on the calendar and plan meals accordingly, then maybe you have a pre-cooked or batched meal the night that everyone has activities or you plan ahead so there are grab and go leftovers that night. Then, on nights when you have more time, you can create those amazing chef-style meals that leave everyone wanting more.

Planning ahead is key to having a successful meal plan in place. And knowing your schedule is a critical part of that. So take the time to look at the calendar and plan your meals accordingly.

What Meal Planning Strategies Will You Use?

So, to recap, the meal planning strategies to embrace ASAP include:

  1. Batching a few meals if possible
  2. Using similar sides
  3. Knowing your schedule and planning meals accordingly

Those are the first of what I’m sure will be many meal planning tips on this podcast. It’s so important to and, And if you would like help getting your meal plan up and going – whether it’s the first one you’ve ever created or you just want to change things up – then check the show notes for some amazing resources to help you do just that. And if you want to see exactly how I meal plan each month and get the exact meal plan I use, then you can head over to lemonblessings.com/membership

Whatever you decide, just know that I’m cheering you on! You’ve got this! Have an amazing day and I’ll chat with you again next time!