Taking the time to meal plan will totally help your grocery budget each month! And time, well, it takes a lot less effort as I cook two or more meals at a time – this means to eat future meals all I have to do is reheat or throw stuff together. Here is what a meal plan can offer you, what a typical meal rotation looks like for me, and how we save money by making things from home rather than purchasing preprocessed foods

What a Meal Plan Can Offer You

  • You don’t have to think about meals more than a couple times a month.
  • You don’t waste food as leftovers are remade into the next day’s meal.
  • You don’t have to make meals many evenings, rather you just assemble the parts you made previously.
  • You don’t need to go to the grocery store as often. I have three kids under three, going to the grocery store is a massive undertaking. I’d rather do this as little as humanly possible!
  • You also spend less both as you go to the store less often and you are able to make your meals go farther.

What a Typical Meal Plan Rotation Looks Like for Us

We try to make two meats at a time. I look at my massive list of meals and pick 3-4 “anchor” meals. Example – This rotation we’ll pick Taco Salad, Enchiladas & Lasagna. I then look at my ingredients needed for the three dishes. You can see my list in the inner circle – I love Venn Diagrams! Meal Diagram

After I make my list, I wonder if there are other similar meals I can make. I can add the following meals without having to purchase anything extra:

  • Burritos
  • Tortilla Soup
  • Mexican Lasagna
  • Meaty Spaghetti

.

If I add a splash of soy sauce and some ginger (which I usually have on hand) I have Asian Chicken Salad. . If I buy rice I can also make:

  • Stuffed Peppers
  • Beans and Rice
  • Baked Chicken and Rice

If I add flour (for biscuits/bread) and a bag of frozen veggies (or grab veggies I have frozen from the past summer’s sales), I can make:

  • Meatball Subs
  • Chicken Pie
  • Chicken & Dumplings
  • Pancakes and Eggs (if you are like us and occasionally have breakfast for supper)

Now I have 15 different meals! I can add even more ingredients and get more variety! Ex: potatoes = stuffed baked potatoes, potato soup, shepherd’s pie. Add Pepperonies and I can make pizza and calzones. I have over 20 meals to feed my family in one grocery trip! . Meal planning is a new way of looking at groceries. You don’t pick your meals and then shop, you shop make your meals from your ingredient list and then add missing elements.

By doing this I have money left over each month in my grocery budget. I also love how it saves me time! I can make all my ground beef at once and then split it into 4 meals, freeze two bags (for a busy night in the distant future), eat one in lasagna that night, eat one the next night in tacos. Make a batch of chicken: freeze two portions (for distant future), eat chicken and dumplings (or another soup) that night, eat the remainder the next night as Asian Chicken Salad.

Now I have four meals partially made, waiting to be thrown together for the next four nights! I like to also do something called Once-a-month-cooking. I love meal planning! 

Rachel is mommy to three preschoolers and blogs about home tips at Quirky Momma.  Check out her Massive List of Meal Ideas or the list of Salvage Grocery Stores for more ideas on ways to save on groceries.  Thanks to QM and Masahiro Ihara for providing our photos!