Meal Planning 101

Do you plan your meals each day? Week? Month?

Are there tips that have saved your sanity when it comes to grocery shopping, meal planning, and prepping?


If so, I want to know your secrets!

After doing Weight Watchers for over 6 years, I became pretty good at planning meals for the week and putting a grocery list together. But there is always room for improvement, and I know I’m always looking for new tips and tricks to save time and money.

The tricks that have stuck with me over the years?

  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Sure, impulse buys happen sometimes, but for the most part, I stick to my list. I also write notes beside items when I have coupons to use (so I won’t forget at the store) and have my meal plan for the week on the back of my grocery list so I can refer to it while I’m shopping.
  • Buy in season. Whether you’re shopping at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, buying produce in season will save you a ton of money. Fruits and veggies are always cheaper during their typical growing season – plus, they’re better and more flavorful, too. I don’t buy fresh peaches in January or asparagus in October. It’s just not their time and I’ve learned my lesson.
  • Check out the weekly sale sheets. Grocery specials rotate on a 4-6 week basis, so when frozen veggies or canned tomatoes are on super sale, I buy a few extra bags or cans. Same with everything else, when I can. If you buy a few more when they’re on sale, you won’t have to buy them on the weeks that they’re full price – plus, if you can buy them on sale AND when you have a coupon? That’s just fun.
  • Plan a few recipes that use the same ingredients. If I’ve found a new recipe to try and it calls for a more exotic ingredient or one I don’t already have at home, I try to find another recipe that uses the same ingredient. That means fewer things to buy (overall) because I’m utilizing the new ingredient for more than one meal that week.
  • Prep on weekends. I go through phases with this one. I’ll do great with this one for months and then get off track because of travel or plans or whatever, but it’s a great place to start. Doing easy things like chopping veggies over the weekend or cutting up fruit to have throughout the week can save so much time. When I have time, I also like to make a dish to have for lunch throughout the week or cook up a batch of whole grains.

If you have tips or tricks you use to save money / time  for grocery shopping or meal planning and prep, let’s hear ‘em!

I want to see how many new tips we can get in the comments!


Help Holly  + me raise money for Jovenes en Camino, an orphanage in Honduras for abused, homeless and orphaned children. Tis’ the season for  giving – we hope you’ll join us in this challenge.


  1. This is nearly identical to what we do too! We always plan ahead, stick to our list (for the most part) and prep on the weekends. I make about 3 dinners/lunches ahead of time on the weekends, then leave 1-2 days open for something we may be craving mid-week!

  2. As far as the actual shopping goes, I swear by produce stands. I can get an entire week’s worth of fruits and veggies for $10 or less (although that is only for one person). I stock up on BOGO sales too…Publix had veggie broth on sale the week of Thanksgiving so I grabbed a handful.

  3. i plan dinners, and i’ve found planning weekend breakfasts helps too-saves you from sunday morning runs to the store for eggs and such….
    and i plan ahead for days where i know i won’t want to cook and make things the day before for that night. saves us from getting takeout!

  4. I follow very similar strategies except that I rarely if ever read the sales flyers. That’s only because I feel like most of what I buy (fruits, veggies, etc.) never goes on sale. I’ve also in recent years been organizing my shopping around the farmers’ market, which of course cuts into that. However I do always do my planning on one day and plan out for the week thinking about what nights I will actually be home and what nights I will be out. If I know I will be gone a lot I try to pick things where I can freeze the leftovers if I cannot get to them.

    My other trick, buy in bulk bins whenever possible. For things like grains and flours it’s much cheaper making it easy to stock up on things I use often and just buy a little for things I use less frequently.

  5. I used to meal plan like it was a second job. Now that we live with my parents for awhile, I haven’t been planning at all. It’s kind of a nice break but then I do miss to have the organization. I know when I a mom I will be planning out dinner every single night.

  6. All great tips I use! I too go through phases of being good about prepping for the week, and lately i’ve been on a slump. Another tip I do it makes planned left overs that I can recreate into a new meal the next day… Like roast extra chicken for a simple salad the next day or homemade pizza. When I can knock out the work once instead of twice I love it.

  7. I don’t have any additional tips to add – I start with my sale paper first and build my menu off of that.

    And since my husband never eats leftovers, I usually morph a dinner into my work lunch – seems to work – my average grocery bill for our family of 3 is around $80 – not too bad!

    Happy Friday!

  8. Great tips! My Mom and I always plan out our meals on the weekend!

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