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Easy Meal Planning Guide: Cut your food budget and stress in 10 minutes a week!

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Easy Meal Planning Guide: Cut your food budget and stress in 10 minutes a week!

meal planning

We’ve talked a lot in the past about the many benefits of meal planning.  We’re rounding up all our best tips in one post, plus offering you two FREE printables to help get the ball rolling!  We hope you find it useful.  Don’t forget to Pin it for easy reference!

So..why Meal Plan?

Three reasons: Time, Stress, and Money!  A few minutes of thought at the beginning of the week will save time and energy every evening for the rest of the week.  Taking a little bit of time to sit down and think through a plan helps you set yourself up for success.  Planning simple meals or crock pot meals for busy nights helps you avoid expensive takeout or convenience food.  You’ll also plan based on what you have on hand and what’s on sale.  This saves you money by making use of what you already have, and taking advantage of the best prices of the week.

Meal Planning ThumbnailMeal Planning Guide printable from Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring

Getting Started

On a day when you’re sitting down for dinner with the whole family, bring our printable Meal Planning Guide to the table.  Ask everyone to help you brainstorm some ideas.  There are five categories on the Meal Planning Guide, and I bet your family will be able to help you add their top choices to the lists.  The categories include:

  • Family Favorites: The things you can count on everyone eating without complaint
  • Fast Five: Five easy meals that you can make quickly with items on hand, without even thinking about it
  • Freezer/Batch Cooking: Meals that you can make extras when you have time, so you have quick options waiting for you on busy nights
  • Crock Pot Cooking: Minimal prep in the morning for a meal that’s ready to serve when you get home
  • Leftover Makeovers: Transforming last night’s dinner into something different, to serve the next day or to freeze


Weekly Meal Planning Printable thumbnail  Weekly Meal Planning printable from Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring


Plan Your Week

Consider your family’s preferences, your schedule for the week, and the contents of your pantry and freezer.  Take a few minutes at the beginning of the week to think about meals that will fit into all of those things, and write them out for the week!  Use some of the choices on your meal planning guide, or try out new recipes–having it all planned will allow you to think about which meat to thaw, which ingredients you might need to pick up, or which mornings to start something in the crock pot.  A little organization goes a long way to help your week go smoothly.  You can write these on a calendar, in your planner, in your phone, or on this half-page printable (two to a page) that can hang on your refrigerator–whatever way works best for you!


Do you plan your meals for the week?  How have you made meal planning work well for your family?  I’d love to hear more in the comments below or on Facebook!


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