Weekly Menu Plan: FREE Printable

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We’re continuing on with our “Feeding a Family” theme and today we’re talking MENU PLANS!

Let me start by saying…menu planning is NOT my favorite thing to do. There…I said it. In fact, I can usually find 500 other things I need to do like now instead of planning the menu. The thing about it is, I know it benefits me so much to have a game plan for the week ahead.

Additionally, there are so many different styles of menu planning that it’s going to take time to find the “right” way to do it for your family.

Oh, and then there’s that whole as seasons change, so must your meal plan. Ha.

So…I think what I’m trying to get at is. Meal plans are good. Very good actually, BUT…you shouldn’t be so rigid about it that you can’t allow for life to happen and change plans. Because really, that would defeat the purpose of that meal plan, wouldn’t it?

The best recommendation I can make for you is this, shop around and pull ideas from lots of folks. Find the one that best fits your family and the current season you’re in (i.e. babies, picky eaters, eat you out of home(ers) or all the above).

Remember why you’re doing it in the first place. To help your family eat well and avoid unnecessary stress about what to feed that little army of yours.

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Keep it simple and don’t forget to add in some fun things…make sure everyone in your family can find something in the mix to get excited about. Trust me, you won’t please every member every day and some days you may not please anyone BUT a good meal plan will help you overall make it easier on you to please them and feed them healthy more often.

Ok. now that all that is out there…here’s a basic run down of how I plan:

*I usually plan my meals Sat/Sun because since Covid craziness became a thing I’ve been shopping weekly on Saturdays (I used to shop biweekly at multiple stores). Now I go to one store and order anything I can in bulk from Amazon. I start planning before I go shopping and then I finalize it after I get back because I still seem to have trouble finding everything I planned to use for meals at one store.

*We have a couple of meals that we do each week like “Friday night Pizza night” & “Taco Tuesday”. This is both fun and gives me a couple of “freebies” each week.

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*I try to have a couple of “back ups” on my radar and in the pantry and freezer. Think homemade Einkorn PBJ or “snack lunch”. Again, life happens and with four kids…it happens a lot and the whole point of all of this is to make life easier not more stressful, right? RIGHT.

*If something from the meal plan doesn’t end up getting used I shift it to the next open day and if necessary sometimes I switch meals from one day to the next…for example, this morning I made tomorrow’s breakfast because I was running behind and tomorrow I’ll make today’s instead.

*Don’t forget to plan what snacks you’ll have available for the week (if you have small kids you know what I’m talking about).

*It’s also a good idea to plan for a couple of desserts for the week too. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice treat a few times a week. And…if you at least plan to bake something you can make sure you have all of the ingredients at home when you go stock up for your week of meals.

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As you can see, I’m pretty easy going when it comes to my meal plan. I don’t have time or mental space for complicated things right now so simple is how I prefer things. If you’ve never done a meal plan but you’re interested in starting one, you can give this little worksheet a try. I created it especially for ya’ll (well…and myself). It is super simple and embarrassingly basic (don’t judge me) but it follows the basic principles I outlined for you and it will get you going.

Weekly Menu Plan

Happy planning people! ❤

 

Saving Money on Groceries

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Groceries. They are vital in all of our homes and use up a significant portion of our income. With a family of six, we have to be very intentional about how we plan meals, purchase and prepare food.

Let’s talk about five simple ways we save money on groceries:

Consistency

This is probably the hardest for me. At least in this current season of life. There is always something that seems to come up that stops me from being able to get my menu plan done or go through the pantry, fridge and freezer, make the trip to the store etc. The problem is when I don’t consistently go on the same day, we end up running out to the store for “just a few things to get by” and spend much more than we would have.

Typically for us it’s best for me to go either Friday on payday or the Saturday after since by the end of week two we’ve used up pretty near everything we have. Haha!

Bi-weekly or monthly shopping 

As I mentioned earlier, bi-weekly or monthly grocery shopping can drastically cut your grocery costs while feeding your family good, whole, from scratch foods. It’s also a lovely perk that it helps keep you out of the store. I know not everyone may feel the same, but I’m not much of a shopper. I just don’t enjoy it, so if I can suffer through a larger shopping trip and have to do it less often…I’ll do it! When the time comes and space allows for it, you’ll likely find me jumping on the “once a month grocery shopping” bandwagon!

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Shop the right stores

This ones a big one for me! So many times I’ve found myself in the wrong store thinking I can make the shopping trip easier by shopping for everything in one store without over-spending, but I end up paying far more than if I’d just made a couple of extra stops. For our area, I hands down recommend Aldi for the bulk of groceries.  It’s always worth the trip. Even when I don’t really feel like driving the extra distance.

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Some things I can’t find at Aldi and usually purchase at Walmart or Kroger. For most everything else like cleaning supplies and toiletries/household items I usually use Walmart and purchase the least expensive version without compromising quality.

Cooking from scratch

This one is something that so many write off immediately because they’re “just not much of a cook” or they “don’t have time for that”, but you’d be surprised at how easy and fast some of these “from scratch” items actually are.

If you’re new to cooking from scratch, I’d suggest starting with one or two new things at a time and working at getting good at it. For example, say you’re used to buying store bought pizza or ordering pizza, start by trying out different pizza dough recipes and find one that your family prefers and work out the kinks. Over several weeks of making it repeatedly, you’re going to get faster. You’ll save quite a bit of money and eat food that’s made with real ingredients that you yourself selected. No extra preservatives. Just real food. Once you master something like pizza dough, move on to bread. Similar ingredients and process so it’ll be a relatively easy new product to learn. Start small and build on it to avoid burn out and don’t get frustrated. I’ve been baking for many years and still mess up more than I’d like. Just the other day I was prepping breakfasts for the week and managed to forget to add yeast to the dough since I knew I wasn’t going to have time to let the sourdough rise the dough and ended up with hockey pucks instead of bread. It happens.

Preparing food ahead of time

Oh this always makes for a day of hard work but it’s always so worth it in the end. My week goes so much smoother when I make the time to prep meals ahead of time. We don’t find ourselves in a pinch running to the store to grab something quick or eating out. Planning out and cooking/baking in large quantities also helps save money in most cases since purchasing ingredients is most of the time less expensive than purchasing the smaller quantities.

Get yourself a simple meal plan going and plan out everything from breakfast and snacks to lunch and dinner.

Check out this free printable planner page:

https://niftymom.com/2016/01/printable-weekly-meal-plan/

Prep what you can ahead of time and then eat it through the week. For example, one of my favorite things to prep ahead of time is breakfast. It’s always a stressful meal to make and clean up with homeschool, baby and chores so simple and fast is key! One of the things I like having on hand are items like from scratch english muffins and bagels, regular breakfast muffins, pancakes, frittata, etc. All of these keep well either in the freezer or the fridge and are simple to make.

Another little food prep tip…come up with weekly themes, like Taco Tuesday or Friday Pizza night, this will not only make meal planning easier but will also ensure you’ll always have ingredients on hand for a meal if you do end up in a pinch. We usually have homemade pizzas every friday night so at any given time I will have what I need to throw together a pizza if I needed to. Speaking of prepping ahead, did you know you can make multiple dough balls for homemade pizza, throw them in the freezer and thaw them as needed?!

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Mix up a few fancier meals each week with simpler/less expensive ones

This is probably one of my best tricks to keeping the kids and hubby happy with meals on a small budget. I love meals like Spaghetti and black beans and rice but a good portion of the rest of the crew isn’t quite as thrilled with it so it helps for me to sprinkle in the “good stuff” in between the not so favorite items.

You can make a couple of vegetarian meals in between heartier meals with meat to please the family too. Most of our family enjoys a good big salad so every so often we’ll just make a big salad and either substitute boiled eggs for the meat or leave it out entirely. You could also make some chicken to go on the salad if you’re just not into meatless meals. It’s a quick meal with ingredients we typically always have on hand and it’s healthy!

What are some of your best tips for saving money on groceries?!

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