Meal Planning: Money Saver and Stress Reliever

I have always cooked dinner. My mom did it, her mom did it, so when I got married it seemed to be the natural thing to do. It never occurred to me to not cook. When I met a friend who didn’t cook I began to see the financial benefits of cooking and I was grateful I did it.

Meal planning has also been a part of my life since I was married. I didn’t do it to be thrifty at first; I did it to take the stress off of me at dinnertime with trying to figure out what to cook that night. But as I began to Coupon and use the sales more to buy things, I realized the great benefit it could be in my life.

There are a few things you have to do to really make meal planning worth it for you mentally and financially.

1) When you meal plan do it every week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks… This will be different for everyone. Some people prefer to plan every week so they can shop every week. I started off planning a month at a time and would shop every 2 weeks. When I switched to planning meals around the sales I started planning every 2 weeks. When I shop I buy the sales and then plan with what I have at home. When I first started I used a calendar from It sends the calendars every week or month as a reminder for you to plan.

2) Plan your meals around the sales. When you plan to buy what is on sale and then plan your meals around that it helps in 2 ways. You buy only what you will use and you use the things you buy before they spoil. There is less waste that way. Less waste means you are not wasting your money.

3) Don’t be afraid to use what you have and not go shopping for a week. I find that if I focus on the best deals all the time I tend to stock up and stock up and stock up and never use what we have. I find that if I take a week or 2 off from shopping I am able to use what I have and still have plenty of food for other meals later on.

4) Use your leftovers. We do a leftover night at least once or twice a week to be sure we use our leftovers. Another idea is to use leftovers to make something new. You can use your Taco meat form taco night and make a taco salad, or left over beans mashed up for a Mexican lasagna. This way you don’t let them sit until they are unidentified fridge objects ( UFO’s) 😉

5) Plan meals without meat at least 2 times a week. This will stetch your meat budget and also be really healthy for your family.

Melissa has been married to her husband Matthew for 4 years. She has 2 wonderful blessings Braxton (2.5) and Reagan (1). Melissa blogs to help people save money and live within their means at The Sassy Saver

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Olenka June 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Thank you for this!! I just started doing this! I did 2 weeks at first and it didnt seem to work But I am still learning lol So I do it weekly now to ustilize the weekly sales!

BUT we need a reminder all the time to continue on with this that it does make a difference!! so thank you again!


2 Chicagolandia June 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I meal plan one week at a time, and started doing this just to get organized about what’s for dinner. It cuts down the game of “I’m not in the mood for that” at my house. I sometimes swap my days around, but other than that, we tend to follow the plan fairly well.


3 Nicola June 1, 2009 at 10:57 pm

This is where I need help. Thanks for the great article.


4 LittlePeopleWealth June 2, 2009 at 2:23 am

Thanks Melissa, this is a great article!

I tend to write a list of seven meals and not assign a day to them. I am very much an “in the mood for food” type of person so that allows me to change the meal depending on what I feel like eating 🙂


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