I love the notion of being completely organized and on top of everything 100% of the time, wouldn’t that be such a great mom superpower? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a perfectly balanced budget, a colorful calendar of notes and reminders, and a house that’s guest ready at any moment? Oh, it’s like a foreign language! The one thing that I think I can manage is a meal plan. Even at it’s simplest, a meal plan of dinners can make you feel so together.
By definition, a meal plan is a list or calendar with meals planned out. Many base their meal plans on grocery ads, seasonal groceries, and family favorites. If you want to keep it as simple as possible, start with planning just five nights of dinners. You can include four family favorites and one new recipe. If you have everyone help make a “master list” of family favorites, you may find that you end up with enough ideas that you can plan out a month – and don’t be afraid to repeat. Seriously, no one is going to judge you if Tuesday is always taco night, or if Wednesday is Italian night!
Because I want to tackle this meal plan project and not spend a lot on groceries, I’m going to see just how I can plan a week of meals for just $50 spent on just Harris Teeter brand items! When I take on a challenge, I like to go all in.
Harris Teeter has this reputation that’s entirely wrong – people tend to believe that they are “expensive” and they aren’t! I’m doing this challenge for a family of five – there’s no way the groceries could be expensive if we’re going to keep this weekly meal plan at $50 or less! And even better, most of the ingredients that I was able to find were organic!
Our weekly meal plan went like this:
- Pot Pie
- DIY Tacos
- DIY Pizza
- Chicken Stir Fry
- Meaty Mac & Cheese
When I asked my family about their favorites, it was pretty inevitable that I would hear tacos, pizza, pasta… well those are all easy to work with! To make a budget stretch even more, plan a meal where you can make extra for a leftovers night. This is great to do with ground beef or ground turkey – make two meals and save time!
One of our main family favorites is pot pie! You can do this meatless, or make a batch of chicken that you can split, using half for pot pie and the other half for stir fry later in the week.
By using a combination of fresh herbs and veggies + frozen organic vegetables we get tons of flavor.
The salad + olive bar is one of my favorite ways to do pizza night. Use this to save money by letting each family member pick out their own toppings (my kids would say yuck to artichoke and olives on pizza, so I can only buy the portions that I want!)
And we’ve found that the BEST way to do taco night is cook up twice the meat, then use those leftovers to bulk up Mac & Cheese the next day!
Do you have any tips on how to save money AND stay organized by meal planning? Check out http://harristeeter.com and visit your local store, then share in the comments any of your favorite solutions!