Is it weird to say that meal planning is my passion? Probably. But I am seriously tight with money before our wedding. We don’t have extra cash to spend on expensive dinners out, and even dinners at home can be pricey. So I have found a few meal planning secrets I’d love to share with you, plus a free downloadable meal plan with recipes and a grocery list all ready for you!
My meal plan includes 7 meals for two people for $60. I’ve created a daily meal plan for dinners with recipes and a grocery list organized by aisle. It’s easy to eat for cheap if you’re willing to plan!
Tips for meal planning
Meal Planning is how I keep my grocery store bill under $300 a month. That and Trader Joe’s at night–my other secret to savvy shopping. I’ve made a custom meal plan for you, but I have a few secrets to doing this yourself.
- Don’t meal plan hungry. Meal planning on an empty belly is like going to the grocery store hungry. You’re more likely to put more things on your list that you don’t need.
- Stay away from expensive snacks. I get a bag of frozen gyoza from Trader Joes for $3. They’re just hard enough to make that you won’t really snack as often as if a bag of chips was lying around. I usually eat the entire bag of chips right when I get home from the grocery store anyways.
- It’s ok to have a filler meal. By filler meal, I mean, a cheap meal to keep the balance. Pasta, I’m looking at you. Or Ramen! You can load these grains up with vegetables for a fraction of what you’d pay at a restaurant. Pasta, rice, and other grains are perfect for a quick fridge clean-out. Add some kale or some vegetables that are about to turn!
- Cut back on the meat. If you have meat as your main ingredient every night, of course you’re spending a lot of money. I usually have chicken twice a week, and even that can add up quickly.
- Have a budget in mind, and mentally add it up before you go to the store. If it’s over budget, cut some more expensive meals out.
- Have a routine. I always go to the store on Thursday nights. Keeping that routine is important so that I know exactly how much food I need to last me.
- Plan meals by day, starting with perishables first. Cook recipes with chicken, greens, and items that go bad quickly first. If I buy a tender green like arugula, I’m going to make the arugula recipes first so it doesn’t go bad. Then I usually end my week with fried rice, since I can throw in a lot of leftovers. It’s an easy way to cut out wasted food and keep from having to go to the store frequently because something went bad.
If you need a head start, I made this handy meal plan complete with a grocery list organized by aisle, with 7 recipes. Download the meal plan here!
**Made a few tweaks today! Forgot to list honey on my pantry list. The updated list is linked now 🙂