August 9, 2015

Meal Planning like a #girlboss

I get asked the question ALL the time, "how do you meal plan??" OR "how do you manage to stay on budget??"

WELL my friends.. I won't say that it's "easy" but that it just becomes easier the more often you do it and STICK to it! That means being prepared (meal planning), making an organized list, doing your research, shopping efficiently and meal prepping!

What does all of that mean?? Well let's take today for an example!

First, I sat down at the computer and searched through my Pinterest boards for meal planning inspiration. Once I had found the 6 dinner meals and two lunch meal ideas that I wanted I printed off all those recipes and went through my kitchen and wrote down on my list what I needed to purchase.

*TIP - It's REALLY important to make sure you're not buying items you already have in your house! Just because the recipe calls for it, doesn't mean you need to run out and buy it! Shop your kitchen FIRST!*

Second, once I had my list made out, I organized it by isle at the store. Now, some of you may be thinking "holy crap.. no way" BUT, here's the deal. I used to have my entire store memorized. I knew exactly what order to put everything in so I wasn't wandering around the store and buying a bunch of unnecessary items! UNTIL they started doing a re-model on our store and NOTHING is where it used to be. I'm still trying to re-learn where everything is located. So, for the most part I can stay organized by my list.

Third, when my list is done this is when I start looking for coupons. Now, here's my take on coupons and why you should be smart about the stores you choose to shop at. We have MULTIPLE stores all right next door to each other that I could shop at. And some have more options than others; however, Kroger has always had the upper hand for us for TWO reasons - 1. Fuel points to save money on gas and 2. Specific targeted coupons based on my shopping habits.

I do NOT flip through newspapers, magazines, websites, etc searching for coupons for stuff we will never use. I don't see the point in it and honestly, I do NOT have the time. What I do spend time doing is going through the paper coupons Kroger sends us in the mail AND going through their online coupons through their website that link to their Kroger cards.

Here's the fun thing about these personalized coupons - they are sent to us based on our shopping habits. So since I typically buy a lot of organic items and fresh produce, we get AWESOME coupons for that stuff. Plus, they have started sending out save 10% coupons when you spend "x" amount of money, which is double awesome because I'm guaranteed to always spend that amount because it's within our weekly budget (which is $200 for a family of four)

Today I was able to save $54.41 (yes, typo in the photo) with the store coupons and manufacturer coupons (I only use what they call catalina coupons - the ones that print out with your receipt when you check out) which was a HUGE deal because it brought me down to $199 exactly, which is $1 UNDER my budget for the week.

Last (#4), once we get home and put everything away, we meal prep. Whatever meals can be prepped for the week ahead, we take care of it NOW. That way no one is tempted to eat out or grab something unhealthy because of the time it would take to make something. It's a HUGE life and time saver!! I would venture to say a complete non-negotiable if you're serious about getting healthy.

Here is what we are looking at for a meal plan this week --

Monday - Chicken Madeira with green beans
Tuesday - Asian Beef with mushrooms and snow peas over brown rice
Wednesday - Tuscan Chicken Skillet
Thursday - Kielbasa hash
Friday - Pork loin with wine & herb sauce with potatoes and broccoli
Saturday - FIXATE Caprese Chicken with broccoli

Lunches are Burgers and/or Greek Tortellini Salad or leftovers (Andrew typically takes a sandwich with fruit and hummus for lunch)

Snacks are fruit, veggies, hummus, cheese.. easy grab and go type stuff!

Our budget also includes what we will use to make our Shakeology in the mornings as well as snacks and foods for the kids for the week.

Whoever said eating clean and cooking at home was difficult was WRONG. These are delicious meals, that typically will take 30 minutes or less to put together (because who has time to slave away in the kitchen?? I know I don't) and they are filling and GOOD for you.

Can't beat it! Hope this helps you guys get on the right track to help save your family $$$, eat better and spend more quality time together :)



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