Meal Planning for Busy Parents on a Budget

About: I'm a crazy dog lady! I show Schipperkes, enjoy dog training and love helping with dog rescue. I love all things DIY. I especially love to save money with being able to do things myself. I really enjoy reu...

For years I struggled with “mom, what’s for dinner?” Not to mention grocery shopping. Buying items that never get used, or having to run to the store multiple times for needed items.
My menu is only for dinners- breakfasts and lunches are typically the same few things.
Once we stated using this system, I knew what need to be defrosted - some items can be cooked frozen in my Instantpot, grocery shopping was so much more organized and we stopped eating out as much because meals were planned

Supplies:

Paper
Pencil
Recipes
Your imagination

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Step 1:

Step 2: Plan

Decide the time frame you are planning for and write them down.
Make note of days you won’t be home or have a special occasion.
I typically have 1 or 2 “Fend Fo” days. Fend for yourself. Leftovers can be used or the kids can make themselves a sandwich.
Decide on meals. Base your meals first on what you already have, then add from there. Our family has several meals we use all the time, like spaghetti, and tacos.
Need some inspiration? Thumb through your cookbooks, check out Pinterest or a recipe website.

Step 3: Make Your Grocery List

Take note of what you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer. Then go from there.
I like to break my list down into certain categories, but make whatever works best for you.

Step 4: Review Sales Ad, Clip Some Coupons and Have a Budget

We are a military family, so I shop at the base commissary. They have an app with coupons you can select, and then a key fob barcode is scanned at the end of the transaction.
I also like to use coupons.com - the only downside of that is having to print them out (I’m a cheap-o with printer ink) but I print in black and white and on the “fast draft” setting to use as little ink as possible.
You can also get coupons from the Sunday paper. I live in a small town, and the Sunday paper coupons are minimal compared to when we lived in a bigger city. So the expense of the Sunday paper vs. what I can save with coupons isn’t typically worth the cost of the paper here.
My goal is always to save 10% off of my grocery bill using coupons. I don’t always hit the mark, but having a goal is a good thing. Some people like to put their coupon savings away, to use towards a vacation or Christmas account.
A rule of thumb- if you see a great coupon, DO NOT use it for the sake of saving $2 if it’s not something you will use in the next month.
I shop per pay period (usually) and I budget myself $225 for my family of 4. Budget what makes sense for you, but always have a budget.

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Meal Prep Challenge

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