Cut Your Budget with Plan Ahead Weekday Dinner Prep

Cut your Budget with Plan Ahead Weekly Meal PrepWe all know how easy it is to get sucked into the drive-through or to pick up that takeout menu and order dinner, but it’s hard on our wallets. With a little planning, we can avoid those traps.

1) Make a Plan

I like to cook on Sundays, and have meals ready to go for Monday through Wednesday. Thursday then becomes “leftover day.” You choose what works best for you and your schedule.

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Menu Plan Monday ~ April 30th

This week is going to be busier than usual since one kid has a dentist appointment, another has a doctor appointment and I’m leaving town on Friday for the Brandcation blogging conference.  It’s weeks like this that I am so grateful to have a menu plan and a freezer full of home cooked meals to choose from!  We save a bunch of money because we’re not trying to figure out what to have for supper on the way home from wherever, which made it too easy to stop and grab fast food.  We can even change our minds and mix or match the meals depending on how we feel or how the day is going because there is a list of options available.  If you haven’t tried menu planning yet I highly recommend that you look into it – it not only saves us money but also greatly reduces the stress level around dinner time.

MondayLemon Chicken

TuesdayHomemade Garlic Crust Pizza

WednesdayCrock Pot Honey Ham

Thursday – Crescent Wrapped Hot Dogs

Friday – HOHO (hubby’s on his own – I’ll be out of town)

Saturday – HOHO (hubby’s on his own – I’ll be out of town)

Sunday – Sandwiches

My meal plan is listed at OrgJunkie.com!

Menu Plan Monday ~ April 16th

I’m so excited that we’re starting to get a bunch of tomatoes on our plants and I’m hoping that we have a couple of big ones ready for our tacos tomorrow night, unfortunately that probably means I need to stop picking and eating them real fast as soon as they start to ripen.  We’re still working on clearing out our freezer so it’s getting a little harder to come up with creative meal plans for the week, but I have to admit that it’s been wonderful for the budget!  Pretty soon there will only be chicken and blueberries left in the freezer so I figure I’ll worry about re-stocking when we get to that point 😉

MondayBaked Herb Chicken

Tuesday – Beef Tacos

WednesdayCheesy Baked Chicken & Bowtie Pasta with Veggies

Thursday – Rotisserie Sausage

FridayDate night – dinner out!

Saturday – French Toast (breakfast for supper)

SundayChicken Nuggets

My meal plan is listed at OrgJunkie.com!

Menu Plan Monday ~ April 2nd

Tonight I have to go to a meeting in town so I've planned something easy for hubby to feed the kids.  We've been working on eating only what we have in the freezer and pantry for the past few months and now the selection is getting pretty limited, but I'm thrilled to have been able to plan out the menu for the whole month based on what we have on hand.  I don't think we're going to be able to do it again next month, but then I'm really surprised that we've made it this long since we started with the pantry challenge in January!

Monday – Salisbury Steak

Tuesday – Spaghetti & Meatballs

WednesdayBaked Honey Mustard Chicken

Thursday – Tilapia Fish Sticks

FridayDate night – dinner out!

SaturdayBacon Wrapped Garlic Chicken

Sunday – Sandwiches

My meal plan is listed at OrgJunkie.com!

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Saving While Eating Well

Food and drinks are an interesting struggle when trying to save money. Everyone eats, multiple times throughout the day, and there is no way of getting around it. I find that, especially as a working adult, it is incredibly easy to fall into the habit of skipping breakfast, grabbing a quick lunch, then picking up a late dinner. Not only is this a really unhealthy way to live, it’s also very expensive! Here are a few ways to improve your diet AND your bank account when it comes to your day-to-day dining:

Always, Always, ALWAYS Pack your Lunch

Remember when you were a kid and wanted hot lunch every day? Your mother said no of course, and told you to pack your own lunch. Well, the office cafe is the grown-up equivalent to your school’s cafeteria, so use the same logic your mother did, and don’t waste your money on overpriced mediocre food! Packing a lunch is something that takes about five minutes, and can save you hundreds of calories and dollars over the course of a year.

Plan Your Meals

Before you start your week, sit down and plan out what days you’ll be home, what meals you’d like to make, and what you need to buy to make those meals. Not only will this stop you from picking up pricy take-out dinners, but it will stop you from over-buying at the grocery! Bonus points if you pick recipes that use food that you already have!

Make Your Own Specialty Drinks

Ah, if I had a dollar for every time I pulled over at a Starbucks . . . or maybe $5, for that matter! Coffee and tea drinks have some of the highest markups of all consumables, as well as tons of hidden sugars and calories. Starbucksrecipes.org has quite a few recipes of the favorite Starbucks indulgences, and a quick Google search can find you pretty much any other recipe people have discovered for make-your-own gourmet coffee.

Split Meals Out

Sometimes, eating out is unavoidable – but don’t worry, there are still ways to stay within your mealtime budget! If you’re going with friends, split a meal, as well as the cost and the calories! If you’re out with a group that you aren’t comfortable splitting food with (co-workers or something a bit more professional), don’t be afraid to order off of the appetizer menu – an appetizer is often far cheaper and better proportioned than the huge entrees that restaurants offer.

Photo Credit: iClipart