I was reminded this week, as I was looking over our family’s budget, how much money we save when I meal plan vs. when I’m “too busy” to meal plan and just wing it. Although being too busy to meal plan is actually quite an oxymoron because the time it takes to do it will save you at least that, if not double or triple throughout the week.
But even though I knew it saved me time I was still having a hard time forcing myself to sit down and make the meal list and grocery list. That’s when I realized it was time to stick to the same core menu rotation week after week.
I’ve found that 10 meals fits 2 weeks perfectly for us. We usually have a day a week where we head over to my in-laws for dinner and then another eating out/pizza type day.
My favorite part about this system: the grocery list is easy-peasy to make week after week (and you end up savings tons because you’re only buying what you’re actually going to use!).
Here is an example of 10 (generally easy and relatively healthy) meals, feel free to sub out and replace any with your family’s favorites. You’ll notice mine leaves room for some diversity week after week but still keeping the same menu structure. I often tweak recipes or replace them with something new if we start getting tired of a certain recipe in the rotation.
2 Week Meal Plan
2. Tuna Mac Casserole — I love this quick and easy recipe especially if we know we have a busy night ahead.
3. Spaghetti — cook extra ground beef this day and store it away in the fridge so it’s already ready for Taco Night. Alternative pasta ideas for this night: Macaroni Hamburger, Fettuccine Alfredo, etc.
4. Breakfast for Dinner Day — another great one for busy nights. I love the flexibility of this day! Sometimes we do waffles and turkey ham or bacon, other times we do omelets and hash browns, or if we’re in the mood for a treat we do crepes.
5. Taco Night — use the extra ground beef from spaghetti night, mix quickly with taco seasoning and you’re all set! Or if one week you want variation try fish, chicken or even steak tacos! YUM! Also, here’s a delicious Pico de Galo recipe you have to try (it uses Lime Essential Oil!).
6. Leftover Night — leftover nights are awesome for the weekend. We like to repurpose leftovers into “new” dishes. So for example if there’s leftover spaghetti I’ll throw it in a casserole pan with some grated cheese on top for spaghetti casserole.
7. Burgers — this is one of my favorites. If you have a little extra time you have to try grilled cheese sandwiches for the buns! We love making ours with Horizons Cheddar Cheese Slices or even Provolone — seriously delicious!
8. Soup & Salad— mix it up on what kind you make. I recommend choosing a recipe that has similar ingredients as your other meals that week — that way you don’t have to buy a whole new set of groceries. Here are 15 awesome soup recipes that you can choose from. I sometimes like to add chicken quesadillas in with soup night since my husband isn’t a huge soup fan.
9. Quiche — I love this recipe from Martha Stewart. I usually make one with broccoli and onions and another with broccoli and turkey ham. (You can also make extra and freeze them for the next menu rotation!)
10. Try Something New — I love leaving room to try one new recipe every 2 weeks. Pinterest is one of my favorite places to find these. I’m always pinning new ideas to my Easy Recipes Pinterest board.
Follow Alida | The Realistic Mama’s board Easy Recipes on Pinterest.These 10 meals can be made in any order, I make sure I have the groceries for all the days and then just make whichever one we most feel like that night.
I have a core list that I can check before heading to the store. It includes all the ingredients from my 10 meals, I can quickly cross off anything I still have plenty of in my house and the rest I can easily swing by and grab. The list should last me 2 weeks, with a small trip in between for Horizons organic milk (we always try to buy our dairy product organic), some more produce (like apples and lettuce), and anything I accidentally forgot from my last grocery trip. Sample Grocery List: Menu Ingredients:
- Chicken — we try to source our meat as close to the farmer as possible
- Ground Beef
- White Beans (dry beans or canned)
- Butter Beans (canned)
- Veggies for Chili: Yellow Peppers, Onion, Garlic, Green Chili, Cilantro (and extra onions for quiche)
- Chicken Stock (or make your own)
- Horizon’s Shredded Cheese (for chili, Tuna Mac & quiche) & Sour Cream (for chili and taco night)
- Horizon’s Classic Mac
- Cream of Chicken (or make your own)
- Horizon’s Milk
- Spaghetti Noodles
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Salad Fixings (for spaghetti night and soup & salad night)
- Taco Shells
- Taco Fixings: Lettuce, Tomatoes, Salsa, Beans, etc
- Soup Ingredients (will vary depending on which soup recipe you choose)
- Hamburger Buns or Bread and Horizons Cheddar Cheese Slices
- Pie Crusts
- Turkey Ham
- Frozen Broccoli (for quiche) & Frozen Peas (for Tuna Mac)
- Horizons Heavy Whipping Cream
- Optional: French Bread (for spaghetti night)
Additional Weekly Essentials:
- Horizons Butter
- Fruit & Veggies
- Breakfast Stuff: Oatmeal, Cereal, Granola & Horizon’s Organic Yogurt, etc.
- Lunch Stuff: Bread, Lunch Meat, Horizons Cheese, Tortillas, PB&J, etc.
- A Few Snacks: crackers, Horizons string cheese, nuts, etc.
List does not include salt & pepper, other seasoning, olive oil, waffle/crepe ingredients, and ingredients for “try something new” day. Feel free to print this list and add in whatever you purchase on a regular bases.
Extra tip: Check out this post on prepping food ahead of time. Spending a quick hour on Sunday can save you tons of time throughout the week!
Here are 10 simple and easy ideas that can save you tons of time. For more ways to save time and money on meals follow Horizons Organic on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram! For more recipe ideas check out: Easy One Pot Meals. We’d love to see you again! Connect with us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and by subscribing to our free email newsletter!
This conversation is sponsored by Horizon. The opinions and text are all mine.P.S. Are you looking for extra side income? I make full-time income blogging part-time—check out this easy step-by-step tutorial on how start a blog (no tech knowledge required).
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Alice @ Mums Make Lists says
You’re so right Alida about difference in spend between weeks I meal plan and weeks I wing it – also big difference in my stress levels 🙂
I can’t imagine *not* meal planning ,only because I don’t know how to make up recipes on the fly haha! I do six meals per week for our family, and we get Horizon every week! 🙂
I’m not that great on the fly either, that’s a skill I still need to learn!