Money Monday: Meal Planning

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If you’re new to my blog, you can click the links below to read the previous posts in my Money Monday series.

  1. New Series: Money Monday
  2. Discovering Dave Ramsey
  3. Setting a Budget
  4. Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps
  5. The Struggle Is Real

Money Monday: Meal Planning l Love.Bake.Read

In my last Money Monday post, I talked about struggling with such a strict budget, especially our tiny grocery budget. To quickly update you—my mindset has been more positive lately, so I’ve been better able to take it all with a grain of salt. It is what it is for now! I know we’re making progress with paying off our debt and that’s what matters most.

I also mentioned meal planning, which is what today’s post is all about. I swear by meal planning! I’ve found that it’s absolutely essential for sticking to our budget. I must ask, are you a meal planner? If not, you really should give it a try. The best thing since sliced bread, I promise you. Having a meal plan takes the stress out of dinnertime. When you already know what you’ll be making, it’s just go-time. No hee-hawing around because we all know that leads to bad decision making—also known as fast food or takeout. Ugh!

Honestly, our meal plans have been pretty skimpy as of late because our staple items just cost too much. When this happens it leaves a whopping $10 or so for actual meals, for an entire week. Let me start by saying, we keep things real cheap and simple by eating either eggs or oatmeal with toast 3 times per week. We totally realize this is completely unappetizing, but it cuts our meal cost considerably. Having $10 for 4 meals is tough—like really super duper tough. However, it is possible. We eat a lot of brown rice, beans, tuna, pasta, and the like. Healthy and inexpensive! Okay, so pasta isn’t healthy, but I’m Italian and I really just love pasta. Win-win!

Anyway, I started meal planning in March 2011 when we ate 7 glorious meals per week and spent a small fortune on groceries. Small fortune = about $200/week for just 2 people. We definitely complained about how much we spent every week, but we acted like it was completely out of our control. Luckily, just 2 short months later we discovered Dave Ramsey and started changing our ways. It’s a real good thing I already knew all about meal planning because it’s what has kept us on track all these years.

The best part about meal planning is that you tailor your meal plan to fit your budget, which means this process can work for anyone. If I can do it, you can do it! So, let’s talk basics.

The Basics of Meal Planning:

  1. Set a grocery budget
  2. Create a meal plan template (a reusable document)

Creating a Meal Plan:

  1. Insert staple items
  2. Select meals
  3. Insert items to purchase
  4. Calculate cost (ours is automated)

Simple enough, right?! Steve created our meal plan template in Excel, a huge step up from the Word document I used in the past. Our Excel spreadsheet is very detailed and automated, yet simple, which makes meal planning a breeze.

I’ll share all the details of our meal planning template with you in my next Money Monday post, so be on the lookout for that!

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