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Saving Time and Money With Meal Planning and List Sharing

Posted by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 12:00 AM
  • 57 Replies

One of the things I've learned being a working mom is that having a decent meal plan in the beginning of the week can help save time and money. Especially when your family follows a specific dietary lifestyle - in our case gluten-free and mostly "Paleo" - keeping a menu plan in mind with a running list is a huge help in budgeting and time management.

I have to admit that because I'm a WAHM, most days I do have the flexibility to run to the store for a forgotten item or scrap a dinner plan for another because I have that buffer time. That is, MOST days. Some days between editorial meetings, dealing with international authors, and shuttling my kids to school and daycare, I swear it's dinner time before I even sit down to work. My time feels so stripped and crunched into tiny minutes that every second of pre-planning helps.

One thing my husband and I use often to keep an updated grocery list is enlist the use of our smartphones. We both use a list sharing app so that anything he had to the list shows up on mine, and anything I buy and check off updates his, etc. You can also scan the barcode of an item you're low on and it automatically adds it to your list. We have different phones (I have an iPhone and he has an Android) and the app works across both operating systems.

Saturday or Sunday, we will sit down and talk about what we're in the mood for that week. I'll pull up blog posts I've marked with recipes to try, or we'll browse through one of my newest Paleo cookbooks, earmarking things that look good. I mark each recipe to try with a post-it note, and on it I will jot down the ingredients I don't have and need to buy. Then, we'll sketch a pretty decent outline of what we plan to eat and then create our list.

Of course, life happens. Ice skating lessons run late, my husband gets stuck at work, I stay late at the gym, one of us gets sick, etc. So to prepare for this, we usually only plan out three actual meals and then the other two or three for the week are leftovers or remakes (i.e., roast chicken one night, chicken salad on Romaine boats the next) or we plan Pick Nights or YOYO Nights (You're On Your Own) where we go through the fridge and salvage the leftovers. Truthfully, some of my most interestingly delicious recipes I've created have come from trying to make use of a weird conglomeration of leftovers on YOYO nights.

But meal planning and keeping/sharing a grocery list helps keep the random runs to the grocery store to a minimum and also allows us to buy only the food we need for the week, rather than buying stuff at the store that will end up going bad.

Do you set up a meal plan? Do you use any list apps or have any tips or tricks for keeping within your grocery budget and meal plans?

by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Michelle on Mar. 23, 2012 at 9:29 AM

I do meal plan, I work on a 2-3 week menu at a time. I have an ongoing grocery list that everyone adds too, but it's just paper and pencil here. My dh is the only geek so we don't have apps or anything like that. But our meal planning has saved us $60 weekly. We also do the same thing with leftovers: baked chicken 1 night, chicken salad the next.

by Carissa on Mar. 23, 2012 at 9:43 AM
I plan our meals for the week every Monday morning before I go grocery shopping. But I just use paper, no fancy apps or anything like that.
by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 10:14 AM

I don't meal plan, I just try to make a list to make sure we have everything on hand for the meals I like to make. It doesn't always work and sometimes I have to run to the store. That app thing sounds really handy though, I just keep a list on the fridge.

I'm thankful for a hubby that loves me, 4 healthy children, a warm
place to sleep and enough food for our meals... God bless America!

by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I use a meal plan.
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by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 1:42 PM

We typically don't meal plan.

by Bronze Member on Mar. 23, 2012 at 1:55 PM

I meal plan a week at a time but I work on our following week we typically try various meals so we do not get tired if the same old thing it saves me time, it saves money and my sanity for DD does not like change at all. So she knows all day what we are having for a given week , also I take in account the school lunch menu days she packs, and eats there to not have the same things.

by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 2:09 PM
I don't meal plan or use any special apps.
by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 2:11 PM

I write out a list every week and grocery shop for that week all in one day so that I don't have to go again during the week.  I don't have a phone that gets apps so I don't use those.

by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 2:32 PM

I have an idea of what we're doing, but I don't exactly "meal plan"

by on Mar. 23, 2012 at 3:48 PM
I really need one, I always say I'm going to make one and I never do.
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