We are smack-dab in the middle of a spend-free week! If you’re still here, thanks for hanging in with us! Hopefully you are doing well eating from your pantry and avoiding the stores.
Part of having a simple life is spending money wisely and purposefully, with as little waste as possible. When asked how I care for such a large family on a small budget, my answer is always the same: we make a plan and follow it! Meal planning is no exception. It is an essential part of how we avoid overspending and waste. One of the reasons I wrote a book on it, is because I believe in the budget-taming power of a good plan! In early years as a (clueless) mom, there were many occasions when I went to the store with no list and no ideas, hoping to be inspired by ingredients I found on the shelves. As a result, I ended up with a lot of unhealthy meals and expensive take-out. In short, I learned the hard way.
With a good meal plan, I have been able to limit or eliminate your waste, avoid convenience foods and say no to takeout. That’s added up to some serious money savings. But ever since we’ve been traveling, it’s been a bit of a challenge to have a solid plan. So I have developed a new strategy: I automate the whole process.
How to Automate Your Meal Planning Process
Currently have six meal plans, each containing breakfast, lunch and snacks for one week. I also have a separate plan containing three weeks worth of dinners, because I like to shop and prep ahead for this meal. They have links for recipes, and a complete shopping list, so there is no work required on my part. When it comes time to shop for food, I print the list and cross off items I already have on-hand. Then I print my coupons and head to the store. The hard work is done, and I can use the same plans again and again! Whenever we feel the need for a change, I write another one week plan, and add it to the stack of pre-made plans. Before long I will have dozens of them, all ready to go when I need them.
Automating this process has done wonders for my stress level. It can be time consuming to create a budget-friendly plan that is also healthy and delicious every week or month. Now I only have to do it once! If you want some more tips on meal planning, you can read my series HERE, or get the book Operation Dinner for $3.99 on Amazon. Come back every Wednesday to see our current meal plan, including a list of printable and digital food coupons we are using.
Do you have any tips for simplifying meal planning? Share them in the comments!