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A lot of our finances are set and we don’t have control over how much we pay. Things like our mortgage, utilities, internet, etc. are pretty set and don’t change much month to month.
So if you want to save some money it’s best to focus on monthly costs that you have more control over and can lower the monthly cost of.
One of the biggest costs is food and our grocery bills are something you do have control over. When I meal plan I spend a lot less on groceries than when I let meal-planning slide and then have to scramble for what we should eat. Often resulting in spending more money.
So today’s assignment is to brainstorm as many meal ideas as possible!
Ways to meal plan step by step
Meal planning eliminates dinnertime stress and overspending. Rather than navigating weeknight meals without a plan, go in with a plan and dinner is served.
Consider your family’s tastes. Hopefully the majority of your pantry items fit in with meals your family enjoys. (Otherwise, you may have to really hunker down for a long month.) If there are a few favorite meals, jot them down and assess if you have the ingredients or at least most of the ingredients on hand. Pasta can be substituted for rice or try putting saucy items over toast or baked potatoes if you run out of starches.
1. $5 Meal Plan:
I’m new to $5 Meal plan but so far I’m really liking it.
The way this works is that for a small monthly fee you get weekly meal plans and a shopping list.
What I love is that it gives me a meal plan I don’t have to do anything for. Plus I have found some new recipies that way.
This has been the easiest type to get into meal planning that I’ve found. You don’t need to pick your meals, make the plan and get a shopping list all in an email.
Examples: Baked Honey Mustard Chicken, Cheesy Pork Chops, and Peppered Salmon
2. Slow Cooker Meals:
Best for: When I won’t be out of the house for more than 10 hours but want to take a break from making dinner. Slow cooker meals use a slow cooker to cook dinner slowly (in about 8 hours but you can also warm for an additional 2 hours) so you can throw something into the crockpot and come back 10 hours later to dinner being done.
I love this because slow cooker meals tend to be comfort food (read: delicious!) Here are a few of my favorite slow cooker meals. Plus make sure you check out my Slow Cooker Meal Ideas Pinterest Board Here.
3. Instapot Meal Planning:
You just throw everything in there, it cooks in a flash and clean up is easy. I’m so glad I got one and started using it.
This multi-function Instant Pot is a game-changer on busy nights. Most recipes are dump and cook, and all you have to do is set it all up and then WALK AWAY to do other fun stuff like watch TV, , clean your house, etc. BONUS: it also cooks food 70% faster (!!!) than traditional cooking methods and it’s all done in one pot. Do you get why we love this thing yet?
If you’re still not convinced, the Instant Pot is PRIME for meal prepping and freezer meals (no thawing required!). You can check out My Instapot meal ideas Pinterest Board here.
Examples: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Spaghetti, and Meatballs, Potatoes.
How to meal plan step by step
- plan out 30 minutes once a week to meal plan
- choose what to make for dinner each night of the week
- if you have a particularly busy or hectic night this is a great night to make a meal in the slow cooker or Instant Pot
- write out or type up and print your meal plan for the week and put on the fridge or somewhere else you will see it daily
- make a shopping list to get all the items you need for meals
Here is a Free Meal Planning Printable to help you out
Grab your Copy Here.
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Throughout this challenge, there will be many different worksheets and printables for you to use. I suggest you print them out and organize them together in a binder or folder so you can journal as you go You can find and follow me on Instagram where I will be sharing my journey for the challenge. Follow me there at @afreshstartonabudget. Tag me in any posts you make that goes along with this month of challenge posts.
Make Sure You check out tomorrow’s post. We will be setting up our budgets. Not so fun but has to be done.
Here is my schedule for what we will be working on in January.