As promised, after sharing Meal Planning 101 & How To Save On Groceries Without Coupons, I’m finally sharing how I meal plan. As many of you know, I work for eMeals.com and got taught how to meal plan (literally from the reigning expert & founder of eMeals, Jane DeLaney) about 4 years ago. I wrote the Publix for 2 meal plans when I first got hired on for the first half of the week and then the second half of the week, I would work on our blog, social media, and blogger outreach. I got too busy with the marketing part that I had to give up writing the plan, but I loved what I learned so much that I still can’t help but do it myself while integrating awesome eMeals recipes into my lineup.
As we discussed in my earlier post this week, the basics of what I do are still based around the Circle Principle. I look at an ad (although now it’s usually online) and make note of what’s on sale. I start with the meat & produce section of the ad usually first to let me know what I’m working with that’s on sale to build my meal plan around.
As I start taking notes, I talk to my husband about our plans for the week. First, I need to know how busy he is? How many nights will we both be getting home late? Will we eat out? This helps me determine how many meals I need to plan to cook, and helps me know that if we are both getting home late on Tuesday night, that’s the night I should plan for a slow cooker meal.
I then go to my Clean Eating & Healthy Heather Pinterest boards and start perusing what all is on sale that is ingredients in those recipes. Once I write down 3-4 recipes I want to make that week and the ingredients (in the order I get to them in the grocery store, of course! #TypeAProbs) on my grocery list, I move onto the snacks and cereals the hubs wants to have on hand. I literally read out the things that are BOGO that I think he may enjoy and stock up on “un-Clean Eating” foods for him that are cheap!
Once I know what we’re making for the week and have filled out my grocery list for Publix (based on what’s on sale; their sales usually rock!) I list the ingredients of the recipes I’m making that week on the side that is NOT on sale to pick up at Aldi. Most weeks I go to Aldi to get our staples, honey goat cheese, Greek yogurt, other random snacks the hubs may want, produce, sandwich bags, or anything else we’ve run out of.
I aim to spend around $50-$60 for our week’s worth of groceries. Usually, we end up closer to the $50 range which is truly my goal. The weeks I go over, are usually the weeks that something we buy a lot of like boneless, skinless chicken breasts are BOGO and I have to blow the budget to stock up to save more further down the road.
This may seem like a long process but the reality is, the more you do this, the easier it becomes! I would say that I can usually create a meal plan, make a grocery list and go to two stores in about 2 hours…but I’m saving TONS of money and headache later in the week not having to wonder what’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
I realize for many people this is TOO much work and too much time and guess what…eMeals is PERFECT for you! (Use code MEALS15 to save 15% off if you want to sign up!) Some weeks when it’s too much, I use an eMeals plan and I KNOW once I have kids I’ll probably be doing it every week. It’s just too easy to pass up on.
What are YOUR best meal planning tricks?