I strongly believe in creating a meal plan for the week. Not only does it mean you know exactly what you are eating that week it also keeps the budget in check when you hit the supermarket. In this post I share my top tips on how to meal plan for a family on a budget.
Why Meal Plan?
As a stay a home mum I’m in charge of the budget and making sure we are not spending crazy amounts. The food shopping bill can soon mount up if you are nipping to the shop everyday because you don’t know what to do for dinner.
Also no one wants to be scrambling around the fridge trying to scrape together a meal with a hangry toddler demanding food. Meal planning means you know exactly what you are cooking and meal times can run smoothly, well as smoothing as possible with little people!
My Top Tips For How To Meal Plan For A Family On A Budget
Before you get started
- First off get your self a meal planner or you can use an ordinary notebook/notepad. I use this to plan our meals for the week and write my shopping lists. Plus as it will contain your previous weeks meal plans, you will have plenty of inspiration for those weeks when you struggle to decide what to make.
Please note: This post contains an affiliate link. This does not affect the price you pay at all, it just means if you were to purchase the item in the link, I would get a small percentage of the sale. You are not in any way obliged to purchase anything. All opinions are my own and anything linked would be a product I own or would be willing to purchase myself.
- Write out the days of the week then make a note of how many of you will be eating that night or if you have plans to eat out. It’s very rare these days that we will get to eat together as a family every night, Jack (my teenager) goes to his Nan’s for dinner some days or is out with friends. I make a note of these days and can then plan to make less meals on that day or make something that can be reheated when he gets home.
- Check your freezer and cupboards first. How many times have you bought something only to find you had a tin lurking at the back of the cupboard already or worse, vice versa finding you are lacking an ingredient just as you are about to start cooking is not the one! Plus what you already have in the cupboard or freezer could be the basis of a meal, I often have sauces, rice, pasta etc or frozen leftovers that can be used as part of a meal, meaning if you incorporate these into your meal plan you will spend less.
Let’s get planning
- Plan some meals that you can make in bulk, which can then be used to make a meal the next day, be froze or used for lunches. Things like stews, chilli’s, roasts and pies are great for this.
- Plan a few meat free meals a week, this will really help keep costs down. Jacket Potatoes, pasta or rice dishes are great midweek meals.
- Plan meals that the whole family like or that can at least be adapted to fussier members of the family. For example, when we have fajita’s they are often too spicy for my little girl so I just make sure I put some chicken aside to cook up separately for her. The same goes for those with allergy sufferers in the family, you can still eat the same meal (within reason) just make them their own mini portion using their food substitutes. Cooking completely separate meals for different family members is a sure-fire way to send your food bill through the roof, plus its extra work for you.
- Consider having set nights of the week for certain meals, so for example, Monday – pasta, Tuesday fajita’s, Wednesday – slow cooker meal etc. This will make meal planning quicker and easier if you know roughly what type of meal you are having on each day.
- Be flexible and buy well dated produce, just because you have planned to have a certain meal on a certain day doesn’t mean you will fancy it on the day. If you buy well dated or have factored in some meat free days you will have some wiggle room to swap your meals around for that day.
- Check online for any offers on cooking sauces, frozen goods etc. that you can make a meal out of.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around to find the best deals, bargain shops often have store cupboard essentials at a fraction of the price.
- Supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl often offer great value for money, don’t be scared to give them a try. We have found items in Aldi that we prefer over branded goods. Beware of the special buys though, you go in for cereal and come out with a bed, true story!
- And lastly, don’t forget your shopping list! I am guilty of doing this all.the.damn.time.
If you would be interested in seeing meal plans, grocery hauls and other budget related videos, let me know.
If you have any of your own meal planning tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments.
Any veteran slimmingworld member will have been cooking variations of this sticky chicken recipe for years. This isn’t just for dieters though, it’s a firm family favourite of ours, it’s so quick and easy to make plus there’s only 4 ingredients so it’s budget friendly too. Both my children absolutely love this. Just remember though if you are doing baby led weaning, babies under 1 year old can not have honey.
Ingredients to make Sticky Chicken
- Chicken – cut into chunks,strips, whatever takes your fancy. I used 3 chicken breasts chopped up to feed 2 adults, 1 child and 1 toddler.
- 3 tablespoons of honey, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.
Method to make Sticky Chicken
- Mix honey,soy and balsamic together in a bowl and add chicken. Marinate in the fridge for a few hours if you have time (I often forget)
- Add chicken and marinade to a frying pan/wok and cook until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is thick, glossy and coating the chicken. That’s it, job done!
I usually serve it with savoury rice and salad, but it’s so versatile you could serve it with anything and add any extra bits you wanted. Next time I make it I’m going to add it to a stir fry, maybe even coat the chicken with some sesame seeds.
If you are following slimmingworld, the only syns you need to count are for your honey, I used to count 2 syns, double check that though.
If you have a favourite quick and easy family recipe you love, leave me a link in the comments.
You may also like Spiced Pineapple Pork
Thanks for reading
So I thought I had the toy situation under control and everything was nicely hidden away when not being played with, then Christmas and a first birthday hit and my lounge was starting to resemble Toys’R’us again, not really the look I was going for!
My main issue was the larger toys like her ride-on’s, pushchair etc that were simply too big to hide under the table along with the rest of her toys. I’m not anti toys in my lounge, in fact the majority of them live down here, I just like to be able to quickly tidy them up out of the way when we are off out and after Ava has gone to bed. I like my lounge to be mine after a certain point in the day as I’m sure a lot of us do.
I have a couple of Ikea kallax cube units around the house and love how they look and how easy they make tidying up, simply chuck it in the storage box, pop back in the unit and you’re done. I decided to look into getting something similar to replace a small table up the side of the sofa which is rarely used, meaning the toys could go in the boxes and the bigger ones could sit in front whilst still being hidden by the sofa.
I opted for a 6 cube storage solution from Argos in the end (purely because my nearest Ikea is pretty far away) It’s less chunky and slightly smaller than the Ikea range but it fits perfectly within the space I have. The cube itself was £35.99 and the boxes I bought to go with it were half price when bought together so they cost me £6.49.
I love how it looks and how versatile it is, the boxes can be changed if I fancy a different colour scheme and the boxes will continue to hold Ava’s toys for many years to come, although, I’m guessing I’m going to need extra boxes to fill those shelves with her every growing amount of plastic tat!
The unit was easy to put together, I managed to build it on my own whilst Ava napped, bit of advice though, read the instructions carefully! I ended up using the wrong dowels and had to hunt down some pliers to prize them back out! Ava enjoyed playing with the storage boxes before we filled them.
How do you keep on top of the ever growing pile of toys? I’d love to know.
Thanks for reading (sorry for being AWOL just lately)
Love Amy xx
This weeks meal plan is a little different, I’m trying to eat a bit (lot) healthier so all my meals are all slimming world friendly meals and meat free. I’m not vegetarian by any means but I like to have a few meat free weeks to cut the cost on our weekly shop.
All recipes are either low syn or syn free
Frankie’s ‘late night’ breakfast This is one of Tesco’s new ‘food love story’ recipes.
Carrot,cumin and kidney bean burgers These are firm favourites and are soooo cheap to make, we will serve them with home made chips cooked in the actifry.
Bean chilli Another cheap favourite of ours taken from Jack Monroes ‘a girl called Jack’ cookbook.
Creamy mushroom and tomato pasta Thursdays are busy days for us so this quick pasta dish is great.
I’m having my tooth taken out under sedation today, so I doubt I will be having any proper dinner, everyone else will probably have something from the freezer.
Sweet potato curry I normally enjoy a nice takeaway on a Saturday but not this week! I’ve heard good things about this curry though so I’m looking forward to it.
Lasagne This is a beef lasagne recipe but I intend to leave out the mince and just add more veg.
What are your favourite slimmingworld friendly recipes?
Thanks for reading
Love Amy xx
I absolutely love seeing other people’s meal plans, I’m not the sort of person that dedicates certain nights to certain foods so I’m always looking for inspiration for something new to try, and basically I just like to nosy into other people’s lives. I thought I’d start a new little blog post every Monday sharing our meal plan for the week as I know you lot are just as nosy as me! Ava eats the same as us most nights so all the meals should be suitable but if not I’ll let you know. Ava does baby led weaning.
Smokey Bacon Spaghetti – Recipe here budget friendly and so tasty. Next time I make this I will adjust the paprika type or amount, the one I used turned out to be super spicy.
Mexican Bake – Recipe here this is a firm favourite in our house especially with my 12 year old. Only 5 ingredients and it’s meat free so super cheap too. Not sure how spicy this will turn out so I’ll have a meal on stand by for Ava just incase.
Sticky Chinese Traybake – Recipe here we have never made this one but we are a big fan of Asian flavours, so we are really looking forward to it.
Spanish Ham And Bean Hotpot – Recipe here This is an old weight watchers recipe that I’ve recently discovered.
Chorizo And Rosemary pearl barley Risotto – Recipe here we have done this before and loved it, massive chorizo fans over here although I haven’t tried Ava with it just yet.You could of course use risotto instead of pearl barley.
Potato,Pepper And Chorizo Stew With Fried Eggs – Recipe here another firm favourite of ours and very budget friendly.
We are out at a christening today so will eat at the after party.
Let me know your favourite go to meals, I love trying new things.
Thanks for reading
Love Amy xx