Hi friends! Today I have an awesome guest post from Christina. She is a pro when it comes to meal planning and saving money while making delicious meals! She has created a whole week’s budget-friendly and yummy mean plan that you’ll definitely want to check out. So grab your grocery shopping list, check your grocery budget, and enjoy reading!
With the average American spending close to $150-200 a week on groceries, not to mention the mental energies needed to brainstorm meals, grocery lists, and budgets – the whole task can be daunting!
Over the years, I’ve found some simple tips to keep our grocery budget simplified… without anyone going hungry!
Grocery Shopping Tips
1. Try to go to the grocery store once every two weeks. Yes, this means you’ll need to meal plan for two weeks at a time, but once you get accustomed to it, it’s so much easier to keep on your budget. In the weekend in between the weeks, I pop in for some rapid-fire items like milk, bananas, salad, any other produce needed.
2. Shop your own pantry before going to the store! Admittingly this is something I constantly work on, especially with my kids. We have a lot of “this is what we have, let’s eat it first” chats when a favorite item runs out.
3. Don’t go to the grocery store without a list! Take some time to sit down, plan out your dinners, and what you may need for kids’ snacks and lunches. Take into account any special occasions, meetings, sporting events that you don’t need to prepare for or you may need to prepare something special for!
4. Check your store’s weekly ad for what’s on sale and buy strategically. If a bulk pack of chicken breasts are on sale, buy it and then divide up into freezer bags when you get home.
5. Use your online tools and resources! Sometimes I find great items on Amazon Pantry that I can stock up on (broths, soup, cereals, juices, bottled water) for amazing sale prices delivered right to the front door! Ibotta has also been really great to experiment with.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be intimidating! My usual goal is to stretch each dinner so that it can be eaten twice or at the very least, have enough leftovers for a take-your- lunch-to- work the next day. This not only saves time and energy (and clean-up!), but also proves advantageous for that grocery budget. Soups and pastas tend to be the easiest to “go the distance” as well as budget-friendly! And I know people joke about “rice and beans” as frugal staples, but they do tend to add longevity to several recipes for a minimal price.
Greatest invention ever: the crock pot. My crock pot has paid for itself, over and over, again especially with freezer bag meals and soups!
Monday & Tuesday: Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole
This is so easy and can literally be made in the masses for freezing later!
1. 2-3 Cooked Chicken Breasts, Shredded
2. 1 package frozen broccoli, steamed or cooked
3. 1-2 cups white rice
4. 1 can cream of chicken (2 cans if multiple casseroles)
5. 1 can cream of mushroom (2 cans if multiple casseroles)
6. Top with cheddar cheese
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
The best thing to do with this is to get a huge mixing bowl and go for it – you can easily fill up 2-3 small casserole pans, top with cheese, and then bake one and freeze the others! I’ve even seen where you can put the mixture (no cheese) in freezer gallon bags, flatten, and freeze. The possibilities are endless with this dish.
Wednesday: Make It Simple
Give yourself a mid-week break! Try something easy like tomato soup and grilled cheese. Or breakfast for dinner is always a favorite at our house: scrambled eggs, sausage or bacon, toast or biscuits.
Thursday: Easy Ziti
With only five ingredients, this one is a staple in our house. These five ingredients usually make a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Or divide in half – make one now and freeze the other!
1. Box of Ziti Pasta – cooked and drained
2. 1 – 1.5 lb cooked ground beef or turkey, drained
3. 1 jar traditional spaghetti sauce
4. 1 block of cream cheese
5. Italian cheese mix
Line bottom of casserole dish or freezer pan with noodles. Mix together drained ground beef, jar of spaghetti sauce, cream cheese. Spoon mixture over noodles. Top with Italian cheese mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Serve with salad and/or garlic bread!
On Fridays we usually do a take-out order of tacos at our favorite local Mexican restaurant or throw a pizza in the oven (bonus points if we’ve gotten those pizzas BOGO)!
Making yummy, easy and budget-friendly meals is possible! So don’t forget to make your shopping list, stick to that grocery budget and make some delicious meals this week! Happy meal planning!