Meal Planning is one of my favorite ways to save money. By having an organized pantry, fridge, freezer, and using a meal plan you can save hundreds of dollars a year! Did you know that Americans throw away an average of $640 in food every year per household?!? I don't know about you, but I'd much rather spend that money on something fun than throw it away!
Recommended Meal Planning Resources
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Meal planning looks different for everyone (and even a little different for me depending on what week it is!). Since everyone has a different method, then not all of my suggestions may work for you. That's why I have broken down the different options and tips to make it easy to find something that you will love!
Examples of some of my own meal planning weeks:
- Most week's I plan my menu for the week (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) on Thursday and order my groceries from Hy-Vee.com right away.
- After the grocery list is done, I always double check the fridge, freezer, and pantry to make sure I'm not ordering something we already have – unless it's at a stock up sale price, then I order extra!
You can do pen and paper, nifty printable meal planning pages, spreadsheets, software like PlantoEat.com, or a meal planning service! Whatever works best for you 🙂
Meal Planning Subscription Services
Emeals is probably the most comprehensive & customizable of all the meal planning services I’ve seen. You choose your family size, eating style, and preferred grocery store. The basic plan is for dinner only, but you can add breakfast and/or lunch for a small fee. We are trying the “Paleo Plan” right now, but you can change your plan once a month!
Eat Well Meal Plans offers an FREE 90-day trial! Each week, you can save or print the PDF with the new week's recipes & shopping list. I’m not a fan of how the shopping list is laid out, but I use Out Of Milk for my shopping list anyway.
Healthful Pursuits sends out a menu every Tuesday for $15/month. Check out the website for a free sample plan. This one would work best if you only need help to fill in a few days, as she only provides 3 days worth of meals and snacks.
The Fresh 20 has three different plans: Classic, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free. All 3 have no preservatives, processed foods, or frozen ingredients. Their site also has a list of the Pantry 20 – 20 must-have ingredients to keep on hand. You can sign up for an annual plan ($49 with access to the archives) or a 3-month membership for $15. I recommend trying a sample plan first and then going with the annual plan to save more.
Deliciously Organic is another meal plan that boasts no processed foods & provides a pantry list (24 ingredients commonly used in their meals) for you to keep stocked. For $8/month, you can have access to their Classic, Grain-free, Gluten-free, and Paleo meal plans!
Meal Planning Software
Plan to Eat is one of my favorite websites. I have a tutorial on how I use Plan to Eat – basically you can import recipes from anywhere online, plan your menu with the drag and drop calendar, and create a shopping list. If you use the Out of Milk shopping app, you can export from Plan to Eat and then import into Out of Milk.
If you love freezer cooking, you have to check out Once a Month Meals! You can customize your menu for the month and pick which meals you want to make for the freezer. It's easy to adjust for how many servings and there are thousands of recipes to choose from, with step by step instructions on how to prepare for the freezer and serving day instructions.
Meal Planning on Paper
Maybe you hate meal planning because it's boring. If so, there are so many ways to make it fun! Pretty printables, an organized recipe collection, or even a planner with stickers! I'm a bit of a pushover when it comes to a pretty planner with fun stickers and have a few of them – one for my personal scheduling, one for my blog, one for my finances, and a gorgeous Happy Planner Recipe Collection!
Printable Crush has an awesome free meal planning printable with shopping list and serving checklist to help you make sure you are getting enough of each food group and it's a good reminder to drink enough water!
Dear Crissy put together a 30+ page printable pack full of meal planning and recipe collection printables.
Living Life as Moms has a free meal planning printable that lets you plan all meals for the week, not just dinner!
This weekly meal planner from Neat House Sweet Home lets you plan out dinner for the week along with a shopping list, all on one page.
I know this seems a little weird in a meal planning resource, but getting the right foods for your meal plan is important! I order most of my groceries online from Hy-Vee.com and know a lot of other grocery stores offer online ordering for pickup or delivery now too! By not stepping foot in the store, I save money on impulse purchases (especially when I prepare my order and then come back a couple hours or the next morning to actually hit the order button), save time since I don't have to walk around trying to find what I need, and I'm able to adjust my meal plan easily if they don't have something I need!
Another option is ordering groceries from non-local stores. Thrive Market, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime Pantry, and Door to Door Organics are all great options, especially for hard to find products at your local stores. I order a lot of my organic shelf stable items online since it is less expensive than the local store and more convenient.