How to Create Meal Plans
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How to Create Meal Plans

Posted on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 at 6:12 pm
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Creating meal plans ahead of time is a great way to prevent food waste and impulse buys and save money on your grocery bill! Knowing how to create meal plans is a great way to save money on your grocery bill. Planning meals ahead of time will help you avoid impulse shopping at the grocery store and prevent food waste. I always end up with the wrong ingredients when I try to plan meals as I shop. Not to mention, cooking at home is far cheaper and healthier than dining out!

How to Make a Meal Plan

Where to Start?

The best way to create a meal plan is to start with a calendar. Ask yourself what nights you will have time to cook dinner, and what nights you won’t. I like to cook extra on my free nights so that I will have leftovers on my busy nights. Next, jot down what meals you want to cook each night and what ingredients you will need to buy. Check you fridge before you add anything to your shopping list – you never know what might be hiding in the back of the cupboard!

What Does a Meal Plan Look Like?

Below is an example of one of my weekly meal plans. I write down only the ingredients I need to buy, so it can double as my grocery shopping list.

  • Monday: Chicken Parmesan. Need 4 boneless chicken breasts, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and 1 jar spaghetti sauce.
  • Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan leftovers.
  • Wednesday: Lasagna. Need lean ground beef, 1 onion, 1 can of tomato paste, 1 jar tomato sauce, Italian parsley, ricotta cheese, and lasagna noodles.
  • Thursday: Lasagna leftovers.
  • Friday: Veggie Stir Fry. Need 2 carrots, 1 red bell pepper, 2 zucchini, garlic, green onions, and soy sauce.
  • Saturday: Chicken Caesar Salad. Need chopped romaine lettuce, 1 chicken breast, croutons, and Caesar salad dressing.
  • Sunday: Hamburgers and Fruit Salad. Need lean ground beef, burger buns, sliced cheddar cheese, and various in-season fruit.


Meal planning ahead of time is really easy and will help you save a lot of money (and time) at the grocery store. Say goodbye to impulse buys and spontaneous last-minute meal planning while shopping!

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.