Meal planning – A Newbie’s Journey


Happy New Year! I am welcoming 2014 as a year of change and drive.  Pushing myself to try new things, and work harder to save more and pay off debt.  When Jon and I looked at our budget last year during our Marriage Oneness class, we always kept thinking – where can we cut back?  One huge area of our budget is the grocery store.  Well, not just the market – household in general.  The main shops are Sam’s Club, Target & Ralph’s.  I never shop around for groceries.  I use what’s convenient and on my way to picking up the kids before heading home.  Our town has a variety of grocers – Vons, Ralph’s, Stater Brothers, Albertsons, Smart & Final.  Each week we receive the fliers for deals, and each week I don’t even take the time to look through them.

I don’t think out our meals ahead of time.  I do shop often for an item here or there that we’d need for an upcoming dish.  But 2014 is changing all this.  I’m starting a new series – to share how this journey is, and to be real.  And since we’re being real, I feel like having the “right” supplies will make this fun and easy. HA HA! I bought the above items from Staples and created that meal ideas printout to just jot down some meals I find from Pinterest or one of my many cookbooks.  I’ll be doing weekly updates on Thursdays, since I’m planning on getting everything done and shopped for by the Wednesdays of each week.

One quick update I forgot to mention. A lot of the dishes I’m going to be planning are from eMeals.  They asked me to sign on as a blogger and try out their program.  I chose the type of meals we eat as a family, and what grocery store we typically shop at.  Each week they email me a pdf of 7 recipes and shopping list to use based on some of the items on sale.  I picked the Classic Menu.  eMeals has a lot of different plans including Clean Eating.  Check out this PDF with a sample menu that you can try out!

So, follow along, and any tips, I’m greatly appreciative.  Thanks!

This post contains affiliate links.  I am a blogger for eMeals but I provide my true opinions. 


  1. says

    i love meal planning. it gives you an opportunity to cook meals that you have been “eyeing” for a while. eric and i usually have a leftover day once a week.

  2. Megan says

    I meal plan for two weeks at a time. To keep costs and time down, I rotate through the same 14 meals. That way I know what I’ll need in the house so I can stock up when it goes on sale. (For example I know I make pot pie twice a month. If there’s a super good deal on one of the ingredients I’ll grab enough to make at least 2, possibly 4.) I want/need to get better about taking inventory on what I already have on hand. I’m working on coming up with a good system for that.

      • Megan says

        I know how the space issue goes! Now that we have a house its easier than when we were in an apartment. I’d love to have an extra freezer someday. Mine is always jam packed (which is why I need to keep inventory of what I have, lol. ) And yes, keeping that stock of breast milk is important! I don’t have to worry about that for awhile…..have to first convonce my hubby we should have another baby sooner rather than later 😉

  3. says

    I love meal planning because it saves me money and it lets me be super nerdy in another area of my life.

    I find that meal planning for two weeks instead of one makes me reuse food (think leftover ground beef and cooked chicken). I also write down what meal we’ll be having on what day so I don’t have to make any spur of the moment decision early in the morning as I’m dealing with whiny kids. And make sure you give yourself a day off once a week so you don’t get burnt out with cooking every day, even if you just do leftovers it gives you a break.

  4. Aileen says

    I try to plan my meals based on what proteins are on sale in the grocery stores, as that’s the most expensive component of our meals. Ralphs every few months has their Foster Farms chicken all for 50% off so I’ll definitely stock up then and also when they have their Jennie O ground turkey for only $1.99 a package. And when I do cook I try to think of a dish I could do the following night that doesn’t require getting all new ingredients. Some common things in my rotation are mashed potatoes one night and leftovers next night become cheesy potatocakes, roast chicken one night then chicken tortilla soup the next night, a huge pork roast in the crockpot is carnitas tacos the 1st night then bbq pork sliders the next night. I also try to cook enough for dinner with leftovers for lunch the following day. This helps minimize eating out for lunch. One of my other favorites is buying the big bag of meatballs at Costco. Lots of quick, easy meals there: spaghetti w/meatballs, sweet & sour meatballs over rice, meatball sandwiches, etc. I try to find a balance between cost and time.

    If you don’t already I recommend couponing. I especially love buying groceries at Target as you can use a Target coupon combined with a manufacturer’s coupon in addition to cartwheel and your Redcard. The savings add up. If you don’t already know about it there is a blog called target savers. They list what’s on sale that week and will often post links to coupons you can use for stuff that’s on sale.

    Good luck!

    • says

      So much awsome info!!! Thank you! I’ve not grocery shopped at target cuz I thought stuff was more than the reg store. But I can see how the savings can add up with cartwheel and the redcard. Gonna check out that blog.

      Haven’t couponed. I feel like I gotta get a grasp here then move to that. But it’s definitely a goal!

      • Aileen says

        You’re welcome. Something that also helped me when I first started meal planning, when I was writing everything down, was writing the cost of each dinner when I made it. When I meal plan now I keep the majority of our meals under $10, and that often includes enough for leftovers for lunch the following day. When I get great sales I can get the cost of my dinners to $5-$6. Seeing the low cost of my meals was a good motivator to continue doing it. Huge difference compared to eating out or just buying groceries on the fly.

  5. says

    I’m so bad at this. Our problem is that we don’t have storage in our kitchen either. I really can’t keep things stocked in my pantry. I don’t have a pantry. I’m going to really try and go through all those circulars that come in the mail, but I also don’t have a lot of time to run from store to store.

  6. says

    We are starting to meal plan in our house. It completely overwhelms me but it’s needed. Still not sure what I want to do or how I’m going to do it. I’ve got a pretty neat little planner though that should help me a bit.

    • says

      Planners are the first step!! Next week’s recap I go through my process a bit. It’s definitely a learning curb. The whole point is to lower time & money spent. Not to make things more complicated 🙂

  7. says

    Meal planning is so weird for me, because I never did it until the past year or so, and now I have absolutely no idea how we ate before lol.

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