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I’ve said it a gajillion times – the easiest way to save money on real food is to make a plan.

Frugal real food meal plan (for our family of six)

Now, part of that includes planning where you shop and making a list before you leave the house. But a big part of it involves planning meals ahead of time so you don’t succumb to the temptation to eat out when you don’t know what to make for dinner. (Read my top tips for saving money on real food here.)

When it comes to meal planning, though, I have to confess that I really just don’t like it. Yes, I like the savings it brings. And I really love knowing what we’re eating ahead of time so I don’t go badger (and because my awesome husband usually starts meals if he knows what’s planned). But. I hate the process of creating my menu plan.

I’m taking a wild guess that maybe some of you hate it, too. So I thought, maybe, it would be helpful for you to see one of my weekly meal plans. (Ok, ok, I also want to put the meal plan somewhere I won’t lose it.)

Here’s what we’re having this week:

Monday

  • Breakfast: Soaked oats with nuts and dried fruit
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Roast whole chicken, spinach, oven fries
  • Prep: Make tortillas, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and granola bars for Tuesday’s picnic lunch after our homeschool co-op. Make chicken stock in crockpot.

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Yogurt and granola
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Chili and cornbread
  • Prep: Make cornbread, cook beans, thaw ground beef.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Eggs, cornbread
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Shepherd’s pie
  • Prep: Make extra mashed potatoes, thaw steak.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Pancakes, eggs
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Steak stir fry, rice
  • Prep: Thaw chicken.

Saturday

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Muffins, smoothies, apples and peanut butter or cheese
  • Lunch: Grilled cheese and tomato soup
  • Dinner: Penne alfredo, salad, focaccia bread
  • Prep: Bake par-baked sourdough bread after muffins are done.

A few notes …

I’m on more of a primal diet, but the family isn’t, so I try to make the majority of our food grain-free. If I make something that isn’t, I have something else. (This usually just happens at breakfast, and I have eggs or yogurt instead.)

Making notes on my menu plan for stuff that needs to be done the following day is SUPER helpful. I highly recommend it.

I like to keep my meal plan where my husband and I can easily see it – like on the ceiling in the kitchen. This is why it’s so awesome to live in a home with short, magnetized ceilings. 🙂

I make foods that my kids like, for the most part. This reduces whining and food waste. However, if I make something they don’t like, they’re obliged to have at least five bites.

I normally plan on a monthly basis, however, our raw milk is in Bend, which is 45 minutes away (at least for another month or so). I’m experimenting with grocery shopping on the days I pick it up to see if it’s easier for us, especially with limited food storage space in the bus. I meal plan Sunday nights since our milk pickup is on Monday.

The cost of our groceries this week was: $125 (I usually budget $100). That includes extra food for Sunday’s family dinner. It’s our turn to cook this week and we’ll be feeding 14 people.

Want some more meal planning inspiration?

Here’s some from a few of my friends:

Do you meal plan? How do you keep it simple?