When I took a critical look at my day-to-day with the kids, I determined that the dinnertime hour is the most difficult part of our day. No question. Everyone is tired, hungry and irritable. The kids are extra needy while I’m desperately trying to produce a healthy (ish) meal. They start crying because I won’t give them a snack and my husband comes home to find total chaos. Does any of this sound familiar? So I’m on a mission to simplify dinnertime and calm the chaos. And it starts with carefully prepared grocery lists and meal plans!
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A HUGE stress point for me is figuring out what I’m going to make for dinner. It’s way more stressful than actually cooking dinner. I go from slightly frustrated to full on resentful that I have to come up with a dinner plan every single night for the rest of my life. UGH. (Not my proudest moments.)
Dinnertime goes so much better when there is a plan made ahead of time. And since we’re still paying off student loans, I gotta do the meal planning on a budget.
Grocery shopping and meal planning are the first line of defence when it comes to handling the chaos the dinnertime. If you know ahead of time what you will be cooking and that you have all the ingredients you need, you will be much less stressed.
Meal Planning on a Budget
Planning meals on a budget starts with carefully reading the weekly flyer and finding which meats and other proteins are on sale. Jot those down on your handy meal planning cheatsheet!
If the sales aren’t great keep in mind that these proteins are often the most frugal options: Pork, beans/lentils, eggs, canned tuna.
If you want the full scoop on how I save money on groceries, check out this post: How I Save 28% on my Groceries Every Week
Next you’re going to want to come up with some simple meal ideas based on your choice of protein. (I’m gonna help you out with that in a future post..stay tuned!)
Go through your recipes and determine if you are missing any ingredients, add those to your cheatsheet.
It’s always a good idea to plan for leftovers too, especially if you find a really good sale on meat. You can easily double up the recipe and either freeze the second portion for a rainy day or have it for your lunches for the week.
Save Time with an Organized Shopping List
Grocery shopping with kids in tow is not for the faint of heart. So stream-lining the process is a great sanity saver!
An organized shopping list will save you time and stress.
The grocery list printable has been divided into sections corresponding to the most common grocery departments.
That way you won’t be worrying that you forgot something in produce while you’re already in the dairy aisle.
Plus you won’t have to run back to get something you forgot while you hold everyone up at the checkout.
Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Take out your shopping list printable and add all the items from your meal planning.
Then carefully go through the store flyer to complete your list with the week’s sales. My rule of thumb when it comes to grocery shopping on a budget is to NEVER buy anything unless it’s on sale.
If I find a really good sale, I will often stock up on that item. It saves me money in the long run plus I hardly every run out of anything by buying ahead.
Fill in the section of coupons & rebates so you don’t forget anything when you’re at the checkout.
You don’t want to be that person in line whose desperately searching through the bottom of your purse for a long lost coupon that has probably expired while you’re kiddos start fussing and everyone else in line gets impatient. I’ve been her. Never again.
Say ‘NO’ to brand loyalty! There are many products that are exactly the same whether they are the name brand or the store brand. Purchase the store brand or the name brand that’s on sale when you can as this will save you money.
Don’t forget to check the sale section of your store for deals that are not advertised in the flyer.
Grab Your Free Printables
I hope that helps get you started on this mission to simplifying dinnertime!