Meal Planning: It Saves Time, It Saves Money

Challenge #5: You are the teacher. Show your readers how to do something.


I bet you figured I would showcase something fitness-related, am I right? Trust me, I considered it. It would have been a very easy transition for me, but I wanted more of a challenge today. Plus, with this being my birthday and all I’m taking a much needed break from exercise.

I’m the one who is in charge of the food and groceries in my household. In the past, I would wing it, leisurely taking a stroll down each aisle and grabbing a miscellaneous item or two. Now that I have my two boys, there is no such thing as leisure. Often times, I feel as though I’m embarking on a challenge; get in, get out, in as little time as possible, before the melt downs ensue. I’ve devised a meal planning routine, which not only cuts down my grocery shopping time, but it also cuts down on my grocery budget. I’m no longer impulse buying, but purchasing what’s on a well thought out list. I’d like to share my strategies with you today, in the hopes that I may save you much-needed time and money.

#1. Decide how you want to shop. I go on a weekly basis, because it means less time in the store for me, but this might not work for you. Also, most of my grocery list is made up of perishables, so it works in my favor to go weekly. Do what works best.

#2. Keep a grocery list. I have an ongoing list that sits under a magnet on my fridge. As we run out of things, we write it down. 

#3. Pick a day to meal plan. I pick Thursdays, because I shop Friday morning. You can pick any day you want in the week, it’s just easier for me to remember and be consistent.

#4. Take advantage of the weekly ads. Most newspapers have ads that you can have delivered to your home weekly. I contacted our local paper and requested it. It’s a bundle of all the ads you’d find in the Sunday newspaper, and it’s FREE, delivered right to your home. If you can’t do that, go online. Most grocery stores have their advertisements online.

#5. Circle the savings. I shop at Baker’s, and so when I get those free weekly ads, I pull out the Baker’s ad and I go to town. I circle the deals. If you have the time to shop at various stores, you can do that too, and circle all the savings you can find from the various store advertisements. I just prefer to stick with one store because it’s easier for me.

#6. Grab your recipe books, post it notes and your planner. I plan my meals based around the deals I’ve circled. For example: Baker’s has a deal on ground turkey, 2/$7.That works for me, and I can freeze what I won’t need until another time, but I will look for a recipe that calls for ground turkey. Turkey burgers are a great recipe for that. I look in my planner than, to see the week ahead, and to see what day would be best for hamburgers. I know, this sounds a little OCD, but there are plans I may have in the afternoon where a quick meal would be better, vs. something that would take much longer to make. A weekend grill out sounds nice, so I grab a post it note, write Saturday “turkey burgers w/ side and salad” and then put it on the page where the recipe is, in the recipe book. This helps me to know when I’m making the recipe, and it helps my husband if for whatever reason he’s the one making the meal, and I’m not around.

I write down the ingredients I need on that grocery list that had been on the fridge all week. I do a quick check to see what I already have at home, and if I don’t already have what’s needed for this meal, I write it down on the grocery list. ground turkey, 2/$7. hamburger buns. 

I continue on like this until my whole week has been filled with meals. I write the meals on the post it notes, sticking them to the recipe, and write down what I need on the grocery list. I also write down anything else I might need for lunches, snacks, etc.

Just because you write a day on the post it note, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. Often times, I change up meals based on what my family is feeling that day, or what I feel like making. You don’t have to designate a meal to a day if you don’t want to.  It just works for me, so I have a plan if I get home late with my boys, and it’s dinner time. Maybe you weren’t feeling turkey burgers on Saturday, and made them Monday instead, picking a different recipe you’d meal planned from the week to use on Saturday. It’s entirely up to you.

#7. Grab an envelope. I use an envelope for coupon purposes. Everything is contained this way. I take the grocery list, and re-write the list onto the envelope, but there’s a catch: I organize the items so it’s conveniently written from one end of the store to the other, making my shopping trip super fast. Some grocery stores have an online list you can create that does the same thing. I’ve been a patron of my store long enough that I know the aisles very well. I start with the produce section which is on the left side of the store, and work my way right.

Now I have a new list, and it’s all in order, so when I’ve got my two boys with me, it’s quick and efficient!

#8. If you have coupons, put them in the envelope. Sometimes I will meal plan based on the coupons I have, and the deals they have at the store. I put the coupons into the envelope, so when it comes time to use them, they are right there. I will often go online to Baker’s website, and utilize their online coupons as well. When the items are scanned, anything that I chose from the website will immediately register at check out.

This might seem as though it’s a lot of work, but I have it down to a science. Meal planning takes 15-20 minutes, and it has cut my grocery time down with my boys- I can get in and out in about 20-40 minutes,  depending on the length of the list.

Also, it helps to offer up free cookies from the bakery, after the trip has concluded. I tell my boys that they can have one, so long as they were well behaved during the excursion. Yes, it’s a little bit of bribery, but if it means a pleasant experience at the grocery store, I’ll take it!




2 thoughts on “Meal Planning: It Saves Time, It Saves Money”

  1. These are great suggestions! I have transitioned to being a stay at home mom, so I’m trying to be more conscious of how I’m spending our money on a weekly basis. Groceries are a great place to start!

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