November 2, 2014

The Art of Meal Planning!

Ah, meal planning... this is one of the big reasons I'm able to be a SAHM! I spend a lot of time and effort every week organizing everything to go grocery shopping. A lot of moms have asked me to share my secrets, so here we are! It's not really secrets as much as it is making time for it, organizing everything and preparing yourself to shop! So, with all that said.. here we go -

First off you need to set a budget. Figure out what is best for your family. According to statistics the average family of four in the US spends about $770/month on their food budget. That is OUTRAGEOUS! Unless you live in an area of the country that the COL is extremely high, making food prices also high (do any of you live in the Hamptons? Ina Garten? I didn't think so..) there is absolutely no reason you should be spending that much on food costs. Keep in mind, that number accounts for all food - groceries, fast food, date nights, etc. You'd be surprised how much money you really spend. I challenge you to sit down and look at how much money you truly spend on food. What is your families current food costs?

I could go on and on about the health benefits of eating at home and not doing the drive thru, but lets face it.. it happens! Seriously, go add up all your food costs over the past month. (If you want the easy way, create an account with mint.com, it will do it for you!) Then once you catch your breath for how much money you're spending, create a new budget.

For our family of four, our max food budget for a month is $500. Vary rarely do we ever exceed that. Because I try hard to make sure our family is eating clean at least 80% of the time, I usually shop once a week. Fresh foods just don't last longer than that!

I do all my shopping at my two local stores, Kroger and Publix. Kroger sends out packets of coupons a few times a month. I go through those and collect all the coupons that I know my family will use. My Kroger also has digital coupons that will load onto my Kroger card that I scan when I check out.

Tip - places like Target have mobile coupons on their Target app as well as their Cartwheel app. We've saved over $300 just this year by using the Cartwheel app. If you haven't been using it, download it NOW.

Once I'm ready to grocery shop, here is how it all goes down - I make a list of foods that my family will eat over the next week. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I raid Pinterest and my recipe binder to figure out what to feed my family! If you need some ideas, check out my Pinterest boardsTip - the more staple items you keep in your house, the less you'll need to spend on groceries every week. Always keep canned goods (beans, canned tomatoes etc), brown rice, and some frozen items in your stash.

Once I have my list of food from each recipe I go through my pantry, refrigerator and freezers to eliminate what I already have so I don't need to double buy. Cross those items off your list.

I find it's easier to shop when my list is organized by the stores layout. I go through and write out our shopping list in order of the isles at the store. Honestly, I have the store memorized so I can just picture everything and where it's located (fresh produce first, breads, pastas, canned foods, meats, cereal, condiments, cheese, eggs, etc) but if you don't know your store that well, ask a CS rep for a store breakdown sheet. They will give you one and that will help keep you organized.

Now, it's time to shop! Happy shopping and I send well-behaved dust to your little ones you might be bringing along with you :)

Today, I shopped for the week and spent $120. Add that to my weekly Shakeology budget of $25 and I'm right under $150 for the week for my entire family - breakfast, lunch and dinners! This includes food for my husband to bring to work and snacks for the kids.

Here is our weekly clean eating meal plan (it also bought everything we needed to have Chili tonight for dinner) -


Monday - Oven Roasted Tacos
Tuesday - Chicken Tortilla Soup
Wednesday - Chicken Noodle Soup
Thursday - Burrito Bowls
Friday - Chicken Gyros

I'll be blogging about each of these recipes that aren't hyperlinked already so you can have our honest review and recipe!

I hope this has been helpful to you! If you have any questions about anything, please leave a comment or feel free to contact me! Make sure and check out my boards on Pinterest. They will help you with meal options, too!

Happy planning, organizing, shopping and eating :)
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