So you made a meal plan.
You plan out the recipes, make the grocery list, buy all the food… and still end up picking up burgers on your way home to feed
the ravenous wolves your hungry family. What gives? You did all this working trying to eat healthier and save money and yet now you have wasted more money by buying all those groceries and hitting up the drive through.
Why can’t you seem to make your meal plan work?
I have been there. While I only have to feed my husband and I and not a pack of hungry wolves, I have juggled working, being in grad school full time, and trying to keep our budget in line by avoiding eating out as much as possible. And there have been plenty of times where I have planned out plenty of meals, put all the work in to make it happen, and still had dinner time creep up on me and realizing that cooking is just not gonna happen.
The times when my meal plan has gone out the window have all seemed to have two major things in common:
1. I made it too complicated.
There have been times where I have planned out two weeks of multi-step, totally from scratch, complicated recipes. While I do enjoy cooking, I can get a little burnt out on the complicated recipes. I have learned that I need to mix in some simple meals for the nights I am just not up to standing in the kitchen for more than 20 minutes.
For each meal plan I create I now make sure to include some easy recipes that I have made many times before and know I can throw together quickly. These meals will be things like quesadillas or tacos, something made with frozen meatballs, recipes that just involve throwing ingredients into a casserole dish, crockpot recipes, etc.
2. I didn’t factor in our schedule
This seems quite silly in retrospect but the November after my husband and I were married I made a complicated meal plan full of yummy fall dishes that I couldn’t wait to make- until it came time to actual make them. This meal plan was silly because that November I had multiple papers due and finals coming up in addition to working. This was when we discovered our favorite local Chinese delivery place! While I love that Chinese restaurant, I did not love wasting the food, money, and effort of my meal plan.
While the food eventually was eaten after the semester ended (I had made sure most of my ingredients were frozen or pantry staples at least), I could have saved us a lot of money of take out and fast food had I thought about how busy I would be…and not just how excited I was for cooler weather (finally) and the prospect of trying new fall recipes.
Now when I know busy days are coming up I plan meals that can just be thrown together in minutes. I also buy a few frozen meals to have on hand for when those meals even seem like too much. Frozen meals from the grocery store are still cheaper than eating out!
Do these things apply to you?
Have you been trying a little too hard with your meal plan? Putting too much pressure on yourself to make everything homemade? Thinking that having a meal plan means only making from scratch meals?
Here are some tips to simplifying your meal plan and making it work for your life:
- Keep it quick, simple, and easy. If you are leading a busy life, juggling multiple responsibilities, give yourself some grace. Your family will be totally fine if they eat meals that are half homemade, half prepackaged. Chicken stir fry with a store bought sauce still beats a Happy Meal! Some other ideas: Rotisserie chicken and salad, tacos and salsa, baked ham sandwiches using Hawaiian Rolls, wraps, crockpot meals, sheet pan meals, dump and bake meals. There are many simple options!
- Keep some options on hand for crazy nights. This can be as simple as supplies for sandwiches! Try for something that lasts a while without going bad. Maybe a pantry staple meal or something that can be frozen. Hot dogs or Premade Hamburger patties with buns that are also frozen. Precooked chicken breasts and frozen vegetables. Nowadays the options are endless!
- Plan nights out. Rather than trying to always eat at home, allow yourself a night or two out factored into your plan. Set a budget for this and adjust your grocery budget to fit it in. Use your schedule to decide when to utilize your planned night out and try to avoid it the other nights. Plan ahead and gather some restaurant coupons. If you are going to go out, try to do it in the cheapest way possible!
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I hope these ideas have addressed the possible issue with your meal plan.
If something else is the issue- I want to know what it is!
Help me, help you by letting me know what problems you encounter with using your meal plan or creating a meal plan in the first place!
Comment below or send me an email and tell me your struggles! I will address your issues in future posts and do what I can to help you out. My goal is to help others stick to their budgets so they can save up to reach their dreams! I want to make sure I am helping you!
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