We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and fully stand behind.
Having a solid Meal Plan changes everything.
There are always two things I think about constantly. Two goals that I always strive for. In the past, I always looked at both of them as separate goals requiring separate actions. But, in recent years, I’ve noticed that there is definitely an overlap in some of the actions I can take that can help me with both.
My two goals are losing weight and of course, saving money.
We often hear that eating healthy is much more expensive than eating processed food, which is completely true in some cases. If you go to a restaurant, a salad is $13 while a pizza that feeds your whole family would cost about $10 per pie, sometimes less. I usually choose the more economical option that’s going to feed my family.
But, as I started meal planning, I realized that I can control what goes on the table each day and control the budget. I control the raw ingredients that go into my meals, the amount of fat that I add to the food, and even the portion sizes.
By buying a head of lettuce, I can eat a side salad next to my food at least 3-4 times (I usually eat a small plate of salad, because it’s not my favorite). A head of iceberg lettuce is less than $1 and I’m eating healthy at home.
Meal Planning has been essential to saving money too. I’ve told you the story of how I used to be an impulsive spender, read more about how I started here.
When I finally wanted change, meal planning was one of the first actions I took to start saving money. It was my saving grace. Not only did it help me reduce my fast food expenses, it helped me save time and money at work, by taking leftovers for lunch the next day.
I’ve saved over $400 per month because of planning out my meals.
Here are some things I noticed when I started meal planning.
I saved on groceries
When someone new to the frugal journey asks me where to start, I always tell them to reduce their grocery budget. It’s not fixed, which means it can be one of the easiest categories to reduce….but it takes a little planning.
Creating a meal plan each week for your family dinners will save you a lot of money. This is even more true when you make your meal plan based on the local sales. You’re taking advantage of what’s in season and what’s already discounted at the grocer.
Each week, you’ll get better and better at spotting the deals and ideas of meals will just pop up in your head. Around St. Patrick’s day in March, they always put brisket on sale. I stock up and make shredded beef tacos in the slow cooker. One 2 lb. brisket can make about 3 meals for my family, because I stretch out the meat with casseroles, tacos, etc.
Meal planning allows you to not only save on the groceries but learn how to use those discounted groceries to feed your family the best meals on a budget.
I saved time
Have you ever been on the go and so busy after work that you have no idea what to make for dinner? Maybe you decide you’re going to eat pizza or fast food. I’ve totally been there. But, this scenario quickly reduced once I started planning out my meals.
And now, I’ve even started to meal prep beforehand. This makes it easy to put the meal together in even less time. Sometimes, it’s even faster than going through the drive thru.
This was huge for me.
Yes, meal planning will require a bit of time at first. But, once you have set your meal plans, it is super easy to stick to and you will save time in the long run.
Time is the one commodity that we can’t make more of, so time-saving habits should be number one on your 2019 resolutions….it will be on mine for sure.
I lost weight
This sounds cliche, but having a plan that helps me cook at home really did make me lose weight. I stopped eating out as often, so all that extra sodium and caloric intake naturally and easily reduced. Dinner time at home meant that I was mindful of what was on my plate.
Taking your leftovers for lunch will help reduce the takeout lunches that add up in calories too. And I’m always looking forward to my lunch because I know it tastes good.
I know some of you will read this and have no idea where to start with meal planning. I totally understand. It took me months to really perfect it so that it worked for me. I spent a lot of time up front creating my meal plans and it really paid off in a big way.
Now, I have everything I need in place to continue saving money and eating healthier.
How to start
But you may not have that extra time to invest into this, but still want to reap the benefits of eating at home and saving money. And while pinterest is awesome for getting recipes, it doesn’t lay it all out for you.
Shout out to my friend Keegan Kraemer from The Daily Change Jar for coming to your rescue!
She created a bomb meal planning service that will not only save you tons of time setting up your own meal plans, she even has shopping lists that go with the meals so that all you have to do is buy the food, cook it, and save.
I sincerely wish I had this when I first started meal planning. But, I tell you what, I’m definitely going to be adding some of her yummy meals as part of my meal plans as well.
She’s really making it easy to start your meal planning journey. And even more important, she made it very affordable. At $5 per month (less than one McDonald’s value meal) her meal planning service does all the work for you! You’re getting TONS of recipes, shopping lists and everything you need to have delicious dinners every day.
So much value for such a little cost. Not only is she doing all the thinking for you ,she makes it SO easy to follow. You’ll naturally just make it a habit before you know it.
You’ll never have to stress about what to do for dinner tonight.
I should mention, I am not getting any commission by telling you about her service, I just wanted to share an awesome service that can help you reach your goals. I truly believe in her service and the value of what she is offering.
I would happily pay 3 times the amount that she is charging for the meal plans she created. It’s all conveniently ready for me to grab and start shopping and cooking.
No more wondering what you’re going to make for dinner.
You can stop feeding your family fast food out of desperation and hunger.
No more groceries going bad and being thrown away at the end of the week.
All the groceries you’ll need will be on your list and will be used for your meals. So, no food waste and no money waste. I love that.
Meal planning was one of the most important habits I had to develop early on. This is how I was able to start saving massive cash every month on my grocery bill. I’ve enjoyed feeding my family quality food on a budget that was cooked with love.
My kids love dinner time now. And my husband and I enjoy not having to go to several drive thru’s to satisfy everyone’s taste buds, haha.
Do you meal plan or have thought of meal planning to save money or lose weight? Tell me in the comments below!