Save Money with Meal Planning

Did you know that meal planning is one of the keys to saving money on your grocery bill? Using coupons will save you money at the register, but using your food wisely is going to save you money as well!

Things are usually pretty hectic for me between November and December, but this year was exceptionally crazy. I admit to completely dropping the ball with menu planning. I think I only wrote out a weekly menu twice in those two months. Yikes.

So, as you can imagine, things were even crazier due to my lack of planning. Here are a few of the things I noticed happening when I didn’t plan out our meals:

  • We shopped more often
  • We spent more on groceries
  • We ate out more often (which meant additional spending)
  • We wasted more food (produce, leftovers, etc. spoiled)
  • We ate more quick/convenience foods

So, in a nutshell, not planning our menus cost us a lot of time, money, and probably contributed to us getting sick over the holidays (since we were eating unhealthy food).

After seeing the effects of not planning, I am even more convinced that menu planning is completely worth the 10 minutes or so it takes per week!

For the new year, I have set a few goals and one of them is to consistently menu plan this year! I’ve broken down the goal into several more specific ways to achieve this goal:

1. Inventory – I plan to take inventory of our freezer and pantry. I always find we have more food than we think and can usually count on finding a few things that I had forgotten about. Knowing what’s on hand will prevent food waste and make menu planning easier.

2. Freezer Cooking Sessions – I love doing mini freezer cooking sessions on occasion that keep the freezer stocked with healthy homemade foods. I especially like freezing soaked and cooked beans, bone broth, and shredded chicken. Having these items on hand saves money since I don’t have to buy more expensive prepared foods!

3. Backup Plan – I plan to try to keep specific items on hand that I can use to make “backup meals”. I sometimes forget to get the meat out to thaw or find that I’m missing some crucial ingredient for a meal which leaves me wanting to order a pizza or go through the drive thru. Instead, I’m going to make sure we have quick and easy meals ready to be fixed in case of some mishap.

4. Leftovers – Ugh. I really don’t like leftovers (please tell me I’m not the only one?). Throwing out perfectly good food is wasteful though, so I’m trying to get over it. I’m going to attempt to be more creative in “re-purposing” leftovers and try to create completely new meals out of them. For instance, leftover white chicken chili can be turned into chicken tacos and leftover roast and vegetables can be turned into a hearty stew!

5. Just Do It – I tend to get hung up on doing things perfectly. I try to plan well-balanced meals with a lot of variety – for instance, 1 chicken meal, 1 beef meal, 1 fish meal, and so on. I also try to plan so that I can use similar ingredients across different meals so I’m not left wondering what to do with a half a can of black olives. Thinking of all things things and trying to do it perfectly tends to overwhelm me. I’m going to just have to commit to letting go of my perfectionism and just do it. A lousy menu plan is better than none at all!

Hopefully this goal will contribute to a more organized and peaceful home, healthier bodies, and less wasted money!

New Year, New You Series

I’ve teamed up with five other bloggers to share our goals for the new year, and hopefully inspire and encourage you to do the same!  In the next few weeks I’ll be highlighting and sharing all the New Year, New You posts from the other bloggers which include topics like reducing sugar in the kitchen, meal planning, weight loss, food allergies, and much more!

The other bloggers are:

Do you menu plan? What goals do you have that will contribute to saving money this year?

Photo Credit


  1. I plan monthly meals based on a $10 or less per meal plan. I make my monthly meal plan, use items from my pantry and freezer and list the items I need from the store. I use coupons to make the bottom line less. I post the list of meals on the fridge and my kids help me decide which meal is prepared when. This concept works really well for us. For January I was able to plan 25 meals for less than $1.00 per person (I have a family of 5) per meal.


  2. Boy is my grocery budget out of whack since the holidays! I too haven’t menu planned at all since Thanksgiving-eeekkk! I am getting back on track and have my menu all planned for this week. It’s amazing how much I have spent because I didn’t menu plan. I too like having a couple of quick meals ready to go for those nights where I don’t want to cook or something comes up. I also plan on doing some freezer cooking this week to get my freezer stocked up. Love your blog! Thanks for sharing!


  3. My husband and I have done menu planning and it really helps avoid the “what’s for supper” conundrum. However, we have recently gotten away from it as we have drastically increased our consumption of soup in a weight loss effort. (Thank goodness for Campbells coupons!) Two tv shows that I watch occasionally are on Food Network. Sandra Lee’s semi-Homemade or Money Saving Meals, and Robin Smith’s Make Ahead Meals although they frequently have some rather odd meals (in my humble opinion.) Cooking extra portions to put in the freezer for another time works real well especially for meatloaf, casserole and even pasta dishes.


  4. Have you tried, or do you recommend any menu planning websites? I just tried http://www.howdoesshedoit.com a few weeks ago and I like it. You create an account, you can search recipes, or add your own. It’s nice because the recipes you save in your account can be saved into categories, such as “quick dinners” “weekend dinners” “school lunches” “school lunches – vegetarian” etc. Then you just plan your weekly menus by meal. You can print a grocery list for the week, for two weeks, whatever. I loved that it created a shopping list with the exact ingredients I would need and I only had to go to the grocery store once in two weeks and had everything I needed. Not only that, but the kids liked giving their input into creating the menu and having it printed on the refrigerator. I liked looking at the fridge and not having to think about what I was going to cook! I’m not affiliated with http://www.howdoesshedoit.com, but I was wondering if you had used something like it or had any preferred sites.


  5. I meal plan but was out of it durring the holidays also. I plan on cooking mostly from the pantry this month. I hope it will keep our grocery budget low. Which will be great if I can do it. I sat down today and made a menu for next week using 75% of items I already have. BUT, I still need a bunch of basic things. I have 2 turkeys in the freezer and one chicken. That will give me a bunch of meat for the month. Plus a neighbor always gives us canned goods that he does not use. I have about 8 cans of vegetarian beans that I need to doctor up so my boys will eat them. They don’t like them the way they are so I need to add something. I have about 4 bottles of BBQ sauce left from this Summer. (they were free w/ coupons), I think I will start with that. I am looking forward to more post for the new year!


  6. Pingback: Get Caught up with New Year New You Series

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