Meal Planning on a Budget

meal planning budget

Meal Planning on a Budget

Here is a new guest post from Brittany at Check out the meals she made in a week using ingredients she already had!
We all know the feeling.  We are staring at our bank accounts after a (fill in the blank) and are kicking ourselves at how irresponsible we were, completely blowing our budget.  Well, that was me last week, and the (fill in the blank) was a trip to Florida for Easter break.  You know that age-old adage that says, “Those who can’t do, teach?”  As a budget blogger by evening and educator by day, that’s me at the moment, and I am working to make it right.  While it was not anything major; I did fortunately did put that Lilly Pulitzer dress that I was gushing over back on the rack and left the store, the little things added up.  Whether it be that extra signature cocktail at a swanky bar on 5th Avenue in Naples, or changing my Southwest flight because I was too tired to make the 6 AM trek to the airport, my $200 budget was completely shot. So now, I am in recovery mode, and am recuperating by being on a bit of a “spending fast.”  If I’m being honest, the #1 thing my money goes to is nights out with friends.  I love my friends, and hate to miss opportunities to hang out.  But, last week especially, I had to say a hard and fast no.
I would say I eat out on average twice per week.  I have a rule that I am very disciplined about: If I’m eating alone, I’m cooking..  Fortunately for me (and sometimes unfortunately for my budget), I have plenty of friends to eat with.  My budget meal plan, which consisted of things I already had, saved me at least $100 because not only did I not eat out, I skipped my weekly grocery trip.  Here is my day-by-day meal plan, which consisted of things I already had.  I actually really enjoyed the challenge of being creative, and highly recommend you get innovative with your culinary skills too. It’s amazing what you can make with what you have!  I will also say that I keep a good amount of spices and condiments on hand, so things never got boring.  Plus, it’s pretty fun to brainstorm all of the things you can do to enhance a chicken finger….
Refrigerator contents:
– eggs
– tortillas
– Trader Joe’s shredded cheese blend
– pizza sauce
– mozzarella cheese
– various condiments that may or may not be expired
– kale (that was on its last leg)
Freezer contents:
– broccoli (a ton..  I went a little overboard at Costco)
– Trader Joe’s chicken fingers (the best)
– My pre-made breakfast smoothies
– Trader Joe’s roasted potatoes, onions, and peppers
Cabinet contents:
– Annie’s Mac and Cheese
– 2 cans of chick peas
– Spices
– Popcorn kernels I bought in Amish Country last summer
I had the day off, as it was Easter Monday, so no scrounging for snacks in the teacher’s lounge.
Breakfast: Breakfast tacos (minus the avocado and bacon, which are my favorite parts.. It was still good, though)
Lunch: Egg salad on a tortilla
Dinner: “Pizza Chicken” (Chicken fingers + pizza sauce + mozzarella cheese)
meal plan on a budget
First day back at school after break!  Snacks in the lounge were limited.  Bummer. Brownies arrive around 10 AM.  I bring one back to my office for lunch dessert.
Breakfast: Smoothie
Lunch: cheese quesadilla and roasted broccoli
Dinner: “Tavern Salad” (kale + chicken fingers + roasted broccoli + shredded cheese + questionable ranch dressing)
meal planning on a budget
Back to the swing of things!  Work is very busy!  Still no good snacks in the lounge.
Breakfast: Smoothie
Lunch: 1/2 box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese with Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Chick Peas
Dinner: Chicken fingers + Shredded Cheese Blend + Roasted Broccoli
I am still not sick of roasted broccoli.  No good snacks in lounge.  I wonder if it is possible to send an anonymous email to all parents, requesting snacks.
Breakfast: smoothie
Lunch: Other 1/2 of Annie’s Mac and Cheese with Roasted Broccoli, and, to switch it up, roasted chick peas…
Dinner: Cheese Quesadilla
I made it!  Only five weeks left until summer break now!  I’ll miss our seniors, especially if they bring snacks for the lounge before they leave.
Breakfast: Smoothie
Dinner: Roasted Chick Peas, Chicken Fingers + Hot Sauce + Questionable Ranch
meal planning on a budget
Could you do a pantry challenge and come up with a weeks worth of meals with only what you already have? I probably good but I would be sick of fries and nuggets by the end of the week!

12 comments on “Meal Planning on a Budget

  1. I need, need, need to start meal planning, so bad!! But, we also do tons of clean-out the fridge, freezer, cabinet meals at our house.

    And, I love roasted broccoli! It’s my absolute favorite way to eat it!

  2. I’ve already been living in complete frugality for the past 15 years or so! Still these are great ideas and I can definitely apply some of them to my own daily life.

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