Friday, March 8, 2013

Meal Planning on a Budget


This evening, me and Jon are spending our date night going to the grocery store. Don't judge. We love spending time together, no matter what we are doing. Not to mention, it's easier to get groceries when it's just the two of us.

As you might know, Jon and I live on a very tight budget, because most of the money we make goes to pay off our student loans. Eating healthy and living on a budget are two hard things to do! However, we have learned to make sacrifices in other areas, so that we can live a healthier lifestyle.

The most important way that I have learned to stay on budget and eat healthy is meal planning. Not only does meal planning help us to stay on budget, but it helps me to know that I have healthy/on plan meals to enjoy throughout the week! When life gets busy and I do not take time to plan out our meals we always end up spending more money than we planned. The hour or two that it takes me to plan out our weekly meals is worth it!

Here are the steps that I go through each week to plan out our meals.

1. PRAY. Before you do anything else, make sure that you get on your knees before the Lord in prayer over your weekly menu. I always pray that God will bless our food, so we will have enough to use the next week. I pray that God will help me to make wise choices at the store and find things on sale, so that we can stay under budget. As God answers my prayers I thank Him for His goodness in our lives!!

2. Make a Weekly Menu. There are so many wonderful resources available to help you decide what you want to eat throughout the week! The three websites I use each week are Pinterest, Skinnytaste, and my own Living a Changed Life Recipe Collection. Take some time each week to look at these different websites to decide what you would like to make for dinner.

3. Make a Grocery List. Once I have decided what I want to eat throughout the week, I begin to create a grocery list. I list out all the ingredients from my recipes that I will need for the upcoming week. I also list out healthy snacks, food for lunches, and anything else I think we might need. Then I go throughout my house and see what I already have in the pantry. I cross off the items I already have at home, so that I am only buying exactly what I need for the next week.

4. Go Shopping and Stick to the List. There are so many wonderful new items at the store all the time. In order to stay on budget, I stick to the list. I'm telling you this is the best thing, but please know that this is such a hard thing for me to do! I am still working on it. For the most part, I stick to my list. However, there have been times where I have found new low pointsplus foods items that I did not have on my list, but buy any way to try.

5. Portion Out Your Food. As soon as I get home or the very next day, if I do my shopping at night. I portion out all of my meat, fruit, veggies, crackers, chips, and more into individual Ziploc bags. This helps me to not waste the food I buy and help it to avoid going bad in my fridge before I decide to eat it. Throughout the week it is easier for me to make wise choices, when my food is already cut, wash, and waiting for me in a little cute bag!

 I hope this information is helpful to you! Like I said, this is what works for us. However, if this will not work for you that's okay! Just try to find a way that will work for you.


Robyn said...

I love your meal planning steps. I too find that I stick more to a money budget AND WW points budget if I have everything planned and portioned. Then I am less likely to splurge on things I shouldn't buy or eat on a whim.

Tracy @ Momma's Finally Losing It! said...

I admire that you are good about portioning out your food for the week. I am SO BAD at that! I'm going to channel your inspiration and do that more this week. :)

I have such trouble with little stops at the store throughout the week. I am the mother of 2 toddlers and I swear we must eat 20 bananas a week. And you can't stock up on those, so you have to go get them every 3rd day or so. That, plus eggs, milk, yogurt, bread... I feel like I'm at the store every other day!

Do you or anyone else have tips to cut down on extra trips to the store??

Kris said...

I like how much your faith in God has helped you on your journey. What a great example you are.

-J.Darling said...

Ya know, I've never really been one for any sort of formal "meal planning", but I know there are certian staples I can keep around and make whatever I need to (and stay on my plan). I do tend to base my shopping on what's fresh and what's on sale and that's about it. So it's veggies and meat mostly anyway. I can toss any combination of those things into tons of different dishes. :)

One thing I'd add to your blog as a tip - EAT BEFORE GOING GROCERY SHOPPING! It's amazing how easy it is walk by the tempting stuff when your tummy is satisfied! :)


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