When I started my weight loss journey with the 21 Day Fix I had to learn to meal plan on a budget. Fresh, whole foods meant a radical change in what I was eating.
But I still had a Hubby to cook for and we help to cook for his mother and stepdad some days too. Older people don’t adjust well to food changes so I had to take the “All-American diet” that they were used to eating. I just had to give it a remake, that way I wouldn’t have to cook 2 separate meals every day.
How did I start making a meal plan on a budget?
First, I started by “fixing” my regular recipes. The ones they were used to eating.
“Fixed” my cheeseburgers with ground round and whole wheat buns for me or I eat them salad style. I have even invented a “Bigger Big Mac in a Bowl” that they all love now.
I “fixed” my spaghetti sauce by finding a store-bought option they like and is “approved” for me and serve zoodles or whole wheat noodles to me. Find out how to find 21 Day Fix approved jar of sauce here:
There is a great little Pizza Pepper Bite recipe in that post!
I “fixed” my chili/soups/stews.
Here is my “fixed” chili recipe
A favorite way I use my chili is to make a copycat version of a Wendy’s Taco Salad!
I “fixed” my taco meat by using spices instead of those salty packets and I serve them with lots of veggies and light on the cheese for me on either corn tortillas or just as a salad. Here is a great way to cook corn tortillas so they don’t fall apart as easy.
What are other ways I save money while meal planning?
If I fry my Hubby’s chicken, I just bake mine. Investing in a big assortment of spices keeps me from getting bored with baked chicken! I love my Flavor God spice assortment because they are all low in sodium.
I also try 1 new recipe a week only, so that I don’t blow our food budget on new things they might not eat. Often I cook a new recipe for me for lunches, to try it out first before I try it on them.
I try to keep taco meat on hand 24/7. I prep big batches and freeze it into 3/4 cup serving sizes. Just in case they want something that I just can NOT “fix”, cuz I can eat tacos every day!!
Do I meal prep?
The 21 Day Fix encourages “planning and prepping” so that you will have good choices ready when it is time to eat. I cook supper almost daily so I don’t precook a bunch of stuff but I do prep. Prepping veggies for my salads or stir-frys is a must! I often load my divided containers down with veggies cut up in different ways. For example, carrots can be sliced, diced, or sticks and used all in different recipes.
I make my starch/yellows ahead most of the time for example: baking some sweet potatoes, making mashed potatoes, or maybe making some pasta/brown rice. Just pick 1 or 2 per week to base your meals around.
That taco meat I keep in the freezer that I talked about and a warmed up baked potato makes for a really quick meal!
Sometimes I might make a soup or chili to last for lunches all week and just have a different supper every night. I use Thursday as my “leftovers” night and that helps me clean out the fridge and see what needs to be used upon the weekend or before I go back to the grocery store.
Going to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning is a way we can get fresh and local stuff at a decent price. I really depend on it to make my meal plan on a budget work spring, summer, and fall.
Summer squash is everywhere right now! I have this great recipe for a squash casserole that my whole family loves.
There is nothing like fresh pico de gallo check out the recipe for it in that post
How do I plan for my containers?
Actually planning my containers is the most important thing I do. Meal planning has helped bring our food budget down and that is always a good thing! But planning my containers for every single day has helped bring those scale numbers down and that is what I am trying to do!
When I am planning my meals for the day I tend to plan supper 1st because it uses the most containers, and then I plan lunch. Last I plan breakfast and a snack if I need to. For supper, I almost always have 1-2 Red containers, 1-2 Green containers, 1-2 Yellow, and an Orange or a Blue as needed.
Then I just use the rest of them to fill in the rest of the day.
I have been meal planning on a budget for years!
As a mother/housewife, I have had to meal plan for YEARS. I had to at the very least know in the morning what we were going to have for supper that night. So I just think of it as doing it on a weekly scale.
I make a grocery list of sale items on Thursday usually because my sales papers come out on Wednesday each week. I have 2 freezers so that I can shop sale prices and get multiple servings of something when it is at a good price. That makes it easier to plan because I am not limited to what the stores have on sale that week. For example, if I can get chicken breasts on sale for .99 a pound, I might buy 10 lbs worth!
On Sunday, I might make a Mon-Wed meal plan for suppers. I make my breakfast and lunch very simple, soup/salad/sandwich being heavy on the greens and reds for the Fix. After I take stock my fridge and pantry on Thursday/leftovers night.
I will make a plan for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But I plan FUN food! Having something fun like surf and turf with a baked potato and a side salad, “steakhouse” style, feels like a real treat too.
We grill everything…meat, veggies, fish, and even fruit. I love grilled peaches, it just makes it feel more special.
I love the new way Hubby cuts a pineapple when he grills them now! Find out how in this post!
We don’t eat boring food…
I might plan a Mexican night or Italian night, just for fun!
Meal planning helps me afford better quality foods!
By eating at home more than eating out, we have saved a tremendous amount of money (and sodium bloat). I like to invest some of that money we save back into quality ingredients!
LOOK at the size of these shrimp!! A pound of these is cheaper than a night at a restaurant.
And instead of going out for sushi, I might just make a huge sushi platter with those great quality ingredients!
My main message is to always have a plan.
There are times I plan 5 suppers and just pick each day which one I want. And there are times I am so BUSY… that I can only plan for 2 days at a time. Today and tomorrow, but I still have a plan!
Here are some full meal plans that might give you some ideas on how to make it work for you!
Can you meal plan on a budget too? Yes. Yes, you can but have to put in the work of writing it down.
Work hard for your goals! Cuz a goal without a plan, is just a wish…