Save Money With Planning Meals
Meal plans, the struggle and how to fix it with free and easy meal plans, recipes and shopping lists through Mashup Mom.
I love planning meals for the week. It gets rid of the daily dilemma that usually comes up at 3:00 pm “What should I make for dinner?” I don’t have to stare into the uninspiring abyss that is my fridge and pantry. More importantly knowing what I’m making ahead of time helps me make my shopping list accordingly so I only buy the things I need. This saves a lot of money so I’m not putting extra things into the cart.
The Reality of Planning Meals
Even though I really like mapping out dinners and save money up until recently I’ve only done this in fits and spurts. When all the stars are perfectly aligned I can sit down and look up recipes, ask my family what they want to eat and write down the ingredients needed. I can look through the cupboards to see what else should to be added and read through grocery ads and incorporate the weekly specials into the list.
Most weeks however when it’s time to make the list I have a crying toddler to take care of, or kids to get somewhere, or I’m coming off of a bad night sleep and have fog brain. So I just quickly slap together a list and figure I’ll have enough food on hand to come up with dinner on the fly. I go to the grocery store, throw things into the cart and am amazed at how much I spent. And then I still am left with daily question, “what’s for dinner.” And I still have to run to the store to grab an ingredient and end up spending more money.
Plus when I get into these ruts I just stick to cooking boring blah things. I like to cook and be creative in the kitchen, but when I don’t know what to make I stick to the basics.
How to Resolve The Meal Planning Dilemma
There are tons of options out there to make meal planning easier.
- Meal planning services…costs money though
- Make a weekly formula like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Leftover Wednesday, Pasta Thursday and look for recipes to each day
- Pinterest. Keep your favorite recipes on hand and use through out the week
- Monthly frozen meal prep sessions
These are some ideas and I know they work for many people. I envy those who can make these apart of their regular routine. I’ve tried a couple of these too, but I still lacked discipline.
I stumbled upon this wonderful life saving website: Mashup Mom. Free Meal Planning with recipes and shopping lists! Not only that, these are all based on weekly specials from Aldi’s! I thought what do I have to lose and gave this a whirl.
Gets Rid of The Guess Work
For the last month I’ve been referring to Mashup Mom on grocery shopping day. The time spent on planning out meals and jotting down a list has been cut in half. I easily look at the things she has on her list and compare it to what I have on hand. Most of the recipes she uses include pantry staples so I typically have most of the items on hand. All I need to do is include other things we need for snacks or lunches and my list is done.
I like that she adds up the things she spent on her list so it gives me an idea of how much I’ll be spending on groceries. Usually her goal is to feed a family of 4 for under $60. I like that number. If I have several items in the cubboard already I know I’ll be spending less. Gone is the anxiety I get at the checkout when I’m waiting for the final total. I have found that I too am able to spend $60 or less each week!
Cooking Is Fun
The recipes are great. They are easy to make yet delicious and healthy, plus the meals are diverse so we’re not eating the same thing all week long. My husband has a refined palate and he’s liked what I’ve made. I have a picky eater and and toddler and they eat everything I make. I don’t have to make an alternative meal for my kids.
Tailoring the Plan
Over the last month I’ve been following the plan but have been incorporating some of our family favorites into the mix. This has helped stretch out the weekly plan to cover 10 days to 2 weeks at a time. I’ve cut out my daily dashes to the store and saving money there. I feel accomplished because I’m getting creative in the kitchen again and am getting back to cooking whole food meals.
So if you are in a rut with shopping and cooking or are looking to save money at the grocery store I highly recommend Mashup Mom! It’s been a game changer in our house and I hope it is for yours too.