Save Money & Time with Meal Planning

Entrepreneur Jenny Newcomer, owner of, provides today's worthy blog post. LobotoME is an eco-friendly organizational product company. Jenny uses her weekly Feed ME meal planner to plan meals for her family each week. The Feed ME notepad is available at or at The Container Stores (nice!) nationwide.

lobotme.comIn this current economic climate, almost everyone I know is tightening their budgets. Some are cutting out their daily lattes or personal trainers, some are on a total spending hiatus and others are simply trying to decrease their grocery bills. The question is, how can you save money on groceries, in particular if you, like my family, eat healthy, organic and local foods? Here's how. Meal planning. We are a family of four and I spend $100/week on healthy, organic, un-processed food.

There are loads of great resources on the internet about how to save money on groceries. You can become a coupon queen (I'm too lazy for this), you can go store to store in search of sale items (I don't have time for this), you can grow and preserve some of your own food (I'm working on this) or you can use a meal plan. With meal planning, you take inventory of what you already have on hand (in the pantry, fridge and freezer) and then based upon those items that you'd like to use up and based upon your schedule for the week ahead, you plan daily meals around it. For example, my father in law who lives in Alaska, shipped us a cooler full of halibut that is in our freezer. I know that at least one dinner per week will include halibut (I generally throw it on the grill with a bit of fresh lemon juice). This means I am not buying another piece of fish at the store for dinner as I already know that I have some on hand.

Additionally, meal planning helps me save time by just going to the grocery store one time per week. No running to the store every afternoon for something for dinner that night and no resorting to takeout on the way home from work.

Every Sunday evening, I take a look at what I have on hand and what we've got going on that week at night and develop a meal planning using my Feed ME notepad. For example, if we have a lot going on one day, I will stick to something easier that night. Then the next step is to consider your grocery budget for the month. Split the monthly total into weekly increments and plan the meals for your meal plan around this amount. The best way to stick to a grocery budget is to go to the store with just enough cash; leave the debit and credit cards at home. This will prevent impulse buying that does not fit into your meal plan.

Take a few minutes this week to create a meal plan for the days ahead. The payoff? Calmer, more focused meal prep, healthier meals, less money spent on last-minute, last-ditch takeout, and more time to actually enjoy meals with your family.

Here's a sample of my weekly meal plan:

Monday: Baked halibut w/ lemon & dill (from the garden)with grilled asparagus (w/ crumbled goat cheese from a local farm).

Tuesday: Grilled chicken + big salad with greens (from the garden)

Wednesday: Chicken (using leftover chicken) & spinach quesadillas with avocado & tomato salsa (w/ fresh cilantro from garden)

Thursday: Whole-wheat angel hair pasta with asparagus & sun dried tomatoes.

Friday: Grass-fed burgers and sweet potato fries & salad

Saturday: BLT's on sprouted bread & salad

Sunday: Grilled salmon, brown rice & broccoli.

Breakfasts – homemade granola & plain yogurt, green smoothies or eggs & toast.

Lunches – salads with leftover chicken, turkey & avocado sandwiches on sprouted bread, PB & J or fruit smoothies.

Snacks – apples, peaches, yogurt, almonds