How I Meal Plan {and save money doing it}

Part of my 2014 Simple resolution is to make wholesome, nutritious meals for my family every day.

We normally eat quite well but I want to make a conscious effort to be more consistent in planning and preparing a decent meal for both lunch and dinner time.


1. Like many parents I struggle to ensure my toddler eats balanced meals. If I’m slightly haphazard in my meal preparation I can get to bedtime and wonder ‘did Ivy actually eat any vegetables today?’ but if I plan I can make sure meals are nutritiously balanced. Ivy seems to eat better when I prepare a meal that isn’t thrown together from left-overs too, and even if she has an off day I’m less stressed because I know she’s been eating well at other meals.

2. I can be lazy when it comes to meal times – especially lunch. It’s good for us to be eating well and it saves us money in the long term because I can plan frugally and cut back on expensive snacks and last minute takeaways/ready meals when we’re hungry with no food in the house.

3. It’s easier to offer last minute hospitality when you’re already preparing a meal. I normally make enough for left-overs too and so it’s easy to set an extra place when it comes to serving. When Josh is a vicar I want him to be able to bring people home at the last minute if he needs to and know there is food available.

Obviously this doesn’t happen every day because real life has a habit of ruining our best made plans! However, if it is going to happen at all meal planning is a must. By the time five o’clock rolls around when you’re tired and your toddler is hanging off your leg whining the last thing you want to be doing is planning a healthy, nutritious meal!

So, here’s how I meal plan:

Every week I sit down with my home management folder and my recipe books. I have a whole section of my folder for meal planning and shopping lists along with a list of go-to meals that I know Ivy will eat.  I try to add at least one new recipe in each week so we don’t just get stuck with the same things all the time.

{If you’re stuck for recipe ideas I can highly recommend the Family Kitchen Cookbook. I was given it for Christmas and I have used it a lot already.}

My shopping list and meal plan printable makes it so easy to plan meals and write down the ingredients I need to buy from the supermarket. If you would like to use it for your own home management folder you can download it HERE.

Unless I’m doing an online shop I then cut my list in half, stick the meal plan on the fridge for reference and use the list for shopping.

For me, meal planning just makes perfect sense when trying to live more simply. I’ve greatly improved the quality of the food we eat and we produce less food waste at the end of the week. We’re also spending more time as a family because we sit down to eat together (when possible) at lunch as well as dinner.

I’ve also cut our monthly food bill in half {I know, I’m impressed too}. I plan as cheap meals as I can and because we no longer nip out for last minute essentials {which end up turning into big shops!} or takeaways we’re really noticing the difference. 

It does take a bit of organisation and discipline but the benefits and rewards are well worth it.

Have you got any simple meal planning tips or recipes to share with me? Please leave a comment. 

Linking with Babies and Beyond  Mommy Moments, Thriving Thursdays, Joyful Homemaking, Thrifty Home, Domesblissity My Joy Filled Life, Time warp wifeTitus 2 Tuesdays 


  1. I've recently gone back to meal planning too after a hiatus when my son was born last March {everything goes out the window then!}. And it has definitely made a difference. Last week I spent $25 under budget and this week $10. I'm being really strict on sticking to my list and if there is money left over, I pick up luxury items or good snacks for my son. It's so encouraging. I don't feel so depressed and guilty when I leave the supermarket now!

  2. I so need to get better at meal planning, especially for the saving money aspect!

  3. Hi Rachel. Fantastic explanation. I must admit, I don't really meal plan for the week but I do like to have some idea of what we're having in advance. I'm sure a lot of people will learn a lot from your blog post. Thanks so much for sharing at Thriving on Thursdays. I'm featuring this at tomorrow's party.

    Anne xx