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Meal planning is by far the number one way to save money, eat healthier and save time and energy prepping dinner every night! Here are my meal planning tips for feeding a family of four, myself and three boys for $300 a month!
One of my favourite things about meal planning is spending the day preparing for the month ahead. At the end of the day, I feel totally exhausted BUT very productive with a freezer full of meals, a menu on the fridge and an exciting answer the next time I’m asked, “what’s for dinner?”
I find this extremely enjoyable in preparing for a big life change, such as the addition of a new baby, or even the change of a busy season. I’ve found that by meal planning only 2-4 times a year has changed my life drastically!
When I started meal planning seasonally I was able to save a ton of food that could have gone to waste, money on grab and go food and truly believe we are stronger and healthier during immune compromising times.
Today I’m going to share with you the exact steps I took to start meal planning seasonally to get my food budget under $300/month!
SEASONAL MEAL PLANNING TIPS
My biggest tip, is to take a full day to yourself to complete your meal planning. This is the perfect excuse for a day at home by yourself and to have someone take the kids.
I find having the house to myself to really plan and write things down, shop, and prep makes for a busy day but also a much more productive day than if I were to try and spread it across a week.
BUT do what works best for you and your family, just make sure to make the time to schedule in the time for meal planning.
Take inventory of what you currently have in your freezer, pantry and fridge. Depending on the season this might include what you have growing in your garden. This is essential to saving money by using what you currently have and getting creative with what you can create using the ingredients you have on hand or with the addition of just a few things.
Use our free printable freezer inventory printable to take account of the meals you have.
Consider foods that are currently in season. Seasonal eating means eating foods that you can forage or grow in your region during that time to reap the total nutritional value of the food.
This doesn’t mean that you have to harvest and collect all your ingredients! But it’s worth considering what is seasonally appropriate and available both in your town but also at the grocery store. Starting to notice trends of when food comes on sale for great deals too helps.
For example: Apples are abundant in October in my region, and “Porktober” has been the best time get a good deal on pork. So we have a lot of pork roasts with apple sauce during the fall and winter!
Whereas in June, the salmon start running up stream so we have plenty of fish and fresh greens from the garden to a farm to table meal! Tip, check out your fishing docks if your coastal or farmers markets when local produce is at its peak!
Dump freezer meals.
Once you’ve determined what you currently have at home and what you can access at a great deal it’s time to start creating your meal plan and meal prep.
When I started writing down what we had, and choosing crockpot meals I could make ahead I was able to prep 5 weeks worth of dinners for the week!
This was huge! Simply choose a few meals you can pre dump into freezer bags and add to the crock pot in the morning before a busy day. This helps you stick to your meal plan and your budget.
I’m able to make twenty to thirty meals in an afternoon after my big grocery shop using these freezer meal tips.
Making a plan and sticking with it are two completely different things. Sticking with it is always much harder than putting it together.
It wasn’t until I started taking 5 minutes every five weeks or so to fill out our monthly meal plan and stick it on the fridge that we started following it!
These are just some of the tips I learned in the Food Budget Masterclass (Formerly, Money Saving Worksheets). Since I took this course and applied these tips to our life this time last year I was shocked at just how easy it was to start saving money and time!
Want to learn more about this practical system to slashing your food budget without coupons?