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Meal Planning

Meal planning is one of the most accessible tools to:

  • Reduce Your Grocery Budget
  • Stop Eating Out
  • Eat Healthier

If you take between 20-30 minutes A WEEK, you can easily accomplish all 3 of these goals.

While many families struggle to stick to their meal plan, or don’t even know where to start, I’ve come up with a whole host of tools to help you!

If you’re completely new to meal planning start by reading Step by Step Meal Planning for Beginners and get your free meal planning binder.

The Secret to Meal Planning Plus Free Printable

Download your free meal planning guide with weekly meal plans, grocery lists and more!

Next, check out my weekly Grocery Haul and Meal Planning Series. This is where I share exactly what I buy each week along with my complete meal plan for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sign up here to get these weekly meal plans in your inbox each week.

Need some more meal ideas? These are some of my favorite budget friendly and easy dinners!

Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Series

Week 11 – Grocery Haul and Meal Plan

If you’ve seen my other meal planning posts, you know that we budget $125 a week for our family of four. 

We’ve made some big savings goals for the next year, which includes saving up to be able to pay cash to redo all the floors in our house, and so I’m looking for little places we can trim. 

Grocery shopping is definitely one of those ares in our budget where I can make some better decisions. 

Since our grocery budget has been the same for years, I’m really nervous about how I will be able to make this work. I’ve cut our budget to $100 a week.

And this week I was able to stay under $100!

The hardest part was that I FELT like I didn’t buy enough, when in fact we had enough food. Everything was written out on my meal plan sheet and I knew we would be fine. (Go here to download my meal planning template)

Check out exactly what I bought below!

Aldi Grocery List

5 Lb. Baking Potato – $1.99

Large Eggs – $1.07

Wild Caught Salmon – $3.99

Asian Blend Frozen Vegetables – $1.59

Frozen Peas – $0.79

Mild Cheddar – $1.99

Deli Sliced Cheese – $1.99

Deli Sliced Ham – $2.49

String Cheese – $2.79

Chicken Broth – $1.39

Coffee – $2.99

Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti – $1.09

3 Mangoes – $1.17

Brownie Mix – $0.85

Organic Yogurt – $2.89

Organic Bagels – $2.99

Long Grain Rice – $1.99

Popcorn – $1.99

Red Grapes – $3.99

Bananas – $0.83

Blueberries – $1.69

2 X Strawberries – $1.29

Cream Cheese – $1.29

3 lb Apples – $3.49

Watermelon – $2.79

Pork Tenderloin – $6.56

Chicken Thighs – $4.86

Organic Chicken Breasts – $8.51

Organic Chicken Breasts – $8.45

Gallon of Milk – $2.55

Taxes: $7.33

Total: $83.63


Meal Plan

As with all my weekly meal plans I had some items already in my pantry and fridge that are part of these meals. I always take an inventory before I go to the grocery store to help me come up with my meals. This week those items include: lettuce, tomatoes, peanut butter, honey sandwich bread and oatmeal.


Chicken and Rice Soup

BBQ Pork Tenderloin, Rice, Salad

Vegetable Lo Mein

Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Foil Pack Salmon, Mash Potatoes, Green Beans

Chicken with Mustard Sauce, Rice, and Salad


Lunch (all served with fruit)

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches



Bagels and cream cheese

Oatmeal and berries

Scrambled eggs and toast

week 10 grocery haul and meal plan featured image
Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Series

Week 10 – Grocery Haul and Meal Plan

It’s the last week of school!

I actually can’t believe with all the madness going on at the end of the school year that I even had the time to make a meal plan and get to the grocery store. Between end of the year activities at school, recitals and last minute summer planning it’s been a crazy week.

This week I pulled out a few meal planning tricks to help us stick to our meal plan. That includes making a double batch of chili and breaking out the instant pot to cook a whole chicken quickly.

Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Week 10

Grocery Haul

I used my ibotta app this week and was able to earn $2.25 on my shopping at Aldi. I’m also happy to report that I’m a few dollars under budget! My weekly grocery budget is $125 for our family of four. We eat most meals at home and pack lunches for school and work.

Here’s what I bought this week.


Week 10 Aldi Grocery Haul

Canned Tuna-$1.15

Frozen Corn – $0.79

Frozen Green Beans – $1.59

Olive Oil Spray – $1.49

2.2 lb Bananas – $0.97

Organic Granola Bars – $2.39

2 x Cream Cheese – $1.29 x 2

Organic Vanilla Yogurt – $2.89

Deli Sliced Cheese – $1.99

Deli Sliced Ham – $2.49

Colby Jack Block Cheese – $1.99

Roma Tomatoes – $1.29

Organic Peanut Butter – $3.39

2 Gallons Milk – $2.35 x 2

Refried Beans – $0.85

3 x Organic Pinto Beans (canned) –  $0.89 x 3

Organic Bagels – $2.99

Deli Cheese Pizza – $4.99

Total (With Tax)- $44.71



Week 10 Sprouts Grocery Haul

2 lb Strawberries – $3.00

Broccoli Crows – $1.34

Cucumber – $0.50

Zucchini – $0.66

Lemon – $0.50

2 lb Mandarin – $2.98

Organic Apples – $2.98

Organic Romaine – $2.50

2 Red Bell Peppers – $2.50

2 Mangoes – $1.00

Red Grapes – $1.62

Chocolate Chip Cookies – $1.67

Organic Honey – $5.99

Secret Stash Cheese Puffs – $1.99

Veggie Straws – $2.29

Organic Quick Oats (bulk) – $1.10

Organic Chicken Breast – $8.47

Organic Chicken Breast – $7.75

Organic Whole Chicken – $8.91

2 x Wheat Bread – $2.29 x 2

2 x 1 pint ice cream – $0.99 x 2

Organic Frozen Waffles – $2.70

Total (with tax) – $74.72

Weekly Total – $119.43


Weekly Meal Plan

Keep in mind that my meal plan already includes foods I have on hand. This week that includes macaroni and cheese, ground turkey, rice, orzo along with all the seasoning, spices and soy sauce. We also had dinner at a birthday party one night.


Pizza and Salad

Grilled Chicken, rice and salad

Garlic Honey Soy Chicken, rice and broccoli

Turkey Chili (I made a double batch for 2 nights)

Instant Pot Whole Chicken, orzo and peas


Lunch (all served with fruit)

Ham and Cheese/PB and Honey Sandwiches

Chicken Salad Sandwiches (from leftover instant pot chicken)

Macaroni and Cheese


Breakfast (all served with fruit)






Veggie Straws/Cheese Puffs



Granola Bars




Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Series

Week 9 Grocery Haul and Meal Plan

This week my trip to the grocery store was a bit rushed and not as well planned as I would have liked. Everyone has been sick this week including me and my husband. I took about 2 minutes to throw together a meal plan on a scrap of paper (including our Easter Meal) and headed to the store.

If you’re looking for tips and inspiration for making a healthy meal plan, you should check out this Healthy Meal Planning Bundle – It includes tons of recipes, ready to use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes and a whole bunch more. You can download some sample meal plans from the bundle for FREE here.

I usually take a bit more time to look at the weekly sales at Aldi and Sprouts and plan my meals around them. This week I just stuck with what I knew and grabbed things on sale as I saw them that I figured we needed.

Related: Meal Planning For Beginners

Surprisingly, I was only a dollar over budget. I also was still able to earn $0.75 on my Ibotta app.

grocery shopping trip

If you haven’t followed the rest of my grocery haul and meal plan series, here’s a quick recap:  We are a family of four with two adults and two kids. We eat all breakfast and dinner at home and I pack lunches for everyone each day. Also, you might see foods on our meal plan not listed as part of the grocery shopping trip. These are items already in our pantry or freezer.

Grocery Shopping Trip

aldi grocery shopping on a budget


Organic Yogurt – $2.89

Organic Bananas – $1.39

Frozen Corn – $0.79

Frozen Wild Caught Salmon – $3.99

Long Grain White Rice – $1.99

Colby Jack Cheese – $1.69

Apple Sauce Pouches – $1.49

Orange Juice – $1.99

Cantaloupe – $1.89

2 x Gallon of Milk – $2.89 x 2

Baby Lettuce – $2.29

Cream Cheese – $0.89

2 x Organic Pinto Beans – $0.89 x 2

Organic Kidney Beans – $0.89

Cookie Brownie Mix – $1.79

Organic Granola – $2.79

Organic Puffs – $1.99

Unsalted Butter – $1.99

Organic Granola Bars – $2.39

Olive Oil – $3.79

Espresso Coffee – $2.88

Dozen Eggs – $1.39

Tax-  $4.97

Total- $53.72


sprouts grocery shopping


2 x 1lb Strawberries – $3.33

5 lb Russet Potatoes – $2.49

Broccoli Crowns – $1.24

Cucumber – $0.50

2 x Half Pint Blueberries – $3.34

2 x Lemons – $1.00

4 lb Navel Oranges – $1.98

2lb Organic Apples – $2.98

2 x Red Bell Peppers – $1.96

Roma Tomatoes – $0.55

2 x Annie’s Mac & Cheese – $0.98 x 2

Organic Oats Cereal – $2.99

Veggie Straws – $1.67

Yogurt Tubes – $3.99

Pork Tenderloin – $9.34

Organic Chicken Breasts – $9.67

Wheat English Muffins – $2.99

2 x Wheat Bread – $2.29 x 2

Organic Ravioli – $6.99

Organic Waffles – $2.79

Tax- $5.98

Total- $72.34

Weekly Total: $126.06

Related: Cheap Meals Your Family Will Love

Meal Plan


Pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and broccoli

Grilled Chicken, mashed potatoes and salad

Foil pack salmon, rice and frozen peas

Ravioli with vegetable ragu



Lunch (all served with fruits)

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches


Mac & Cheese



English muffins with cream cheese


Scrambled Eggs and Toast



Yogurt with granola

Veggie Straws/Puffs


Granola Bars



week 8 grocery haul and meal planning featured image
Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Series

Week 8 Grocery Haul and Meal Plan

I took a little break from sharing our weekly grocery shopping and meal plan but it turns out that was a mistake! I started this series of weekly grocery shopping posts because I wanted to share with people what we really eat and it turns out you guys love it!

I try to keep our weekly grocery shopping to $125 a week for our family of four. We eat all breakfast and dinner at home and I pack lunches for the kids and my husband each day. I also try to buy organic as much as possible, but I don’t let it ruin my budget. More than anything I just try to incorporate as much fruit and veg as I can with each meal!

Related: 25 Easy Meals for Busy Nights

Grocery Shopping

Aldi Grocery Shopping


String Cheese – $2.79

Colby Jack Cheese – $1.69

Cheddar Cheese – $1.69

2 Packages Sliced Colby Jack – $1.99 x 2

Smoke Deli Ham – $2.49

Espresso Coffee – $2.88

Vanilla Ice Cream – $4.19

Organic Hummus – $2.29

Organic Baby Carrots – $1.49

Bananas – 2.60lb x $0.44/lb – $1.14

Fresh Green Beans – $1.49

2 Avocado – $0.79 x 2

Navel Oranges – $1.49

2 Cartons Large Dozen Eggs – $0.89 x 2

2 Organic Apple Sauce Pauches – $1.49 x 2

Organic Vanilla Yogurt – $2.89

Gallon Milk – $2.99

Cookie Brownie Mix – $1.79

Organic Granola Bars – $2.39

Vodka Past Sauce – $2.89

Organic Peanut Butter – $3.39

Tax – $5.01

Total – $55.30

Sprouts Grocery Haul


2 – 1 lb packages of Strawberries – 2 @ 2 For $3.00

Cucumber – $0.50

Half pint Blueberries – $2.50

Zucchini – 0.84 lb @ $0.98/lb – $0.82

Orange Bell Pepper – $1.50

2 lb Organic Apples – $3.99

2 Mangoes – $1.00

Red Seedless Grapes – 2.48 lb @ $0.98/lb – $2.43

7 Grain Flax Pancake Mix – $5.49

Annie’s Mac and Cheese – $1.99

3 Larabars – $3.75

Organic Baked Beans – $1.49

Organic Refried Beans – $1.49

Strawberry Yogurt Tubes – $3.99

Organic Quick Oats – 1.25 lb @ $5.00/4 lb – $1.56

3 Lbs Ground Turkey – $8.97

Organic Whole Wheat English Muffins – $2.99

2 Whole Wheat Bread – $2.29 x 2

Organic Multigrain Waffles – $2.79

Tax – $4.95

Total – $59.78


Weekly Total – $115.08

I also earned $0.50 with my Ibotta app.

Meal Plan and Grocery Haul on A Budget

Meal Plan

Keep in mind that meals on this meal plan include ingredients from my pantry and freezer. I had quite a bit of chicken I had stocked up on when it was on sale a few weeks ago. I often check out what’s in my pantry as I’m creating my meal plan and shopping list. And from time to time I’ll do an eat down the pantry challenge, where I buy only the basics and eat exclusively from my pantry and freezer.

If you’re looking for tips and inspiration for making a healthy meal plan, you should check out this Healthy Meal Planning Bundle – It includes tons of recipes, ready to use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes and a whole bunch more. You can download some sample meal plans from the bundle for FREE here.


Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas served with refried beans and strawberries

Turkey Chili, Apple Slices

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Salad

Grilled Chicken Mashed Potatoes, Baked Beans and Green Beans

Soy Sauce and Ginger Chicken and Broccoli served with Rice and Fruit Salad

Pizza and Mac and Cheese


Lunch (served with fruit)

Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwiches

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

Grilled Cheese

Crackers, Cheese, Hummus and Crackers




Hardboiled Eggs

English Muffins







Granola Bars/Lara Bars




Cheese Sticks


Check out the other grocery hauls and meal plans. If you want to learn how to meal plan and save more money on groceries, check out these simple tips for creating (and sticking to) a meal plan.


fork, knife, dinner plate and dollar bill
Meal Ideas

Cheap Meals Your Family Will Love

One area of our budget that I have always struggled with has been groceries. I’m really likely to overspend in this category if I’m not careful. Meal planning has been a really useful tool in addition to following some of these steps for grocery shopping on a budget.

When times have been tight, I have had to be really thoughtful about the foods I buy and the meals we prepare.

I’ve also  found that during these lean times it’s super easy to get caught in a rut. I go for what I know is cheap and easy and we eat the same things week in and out.

Honestly, there is only so much spaghetti a person can eat.

If you’re like me and are looking for some new cheap family friendly recipes to spice up your meals than this list of budget meals is for you!

Cheap Meals For When You're Broke #familyfriendlyrecipes #budgetmeals

A Few Things Before I Get Started

In addition to cooking inexpensive meals, you can maximize your savings at the grocery store with Ibotta.

Ibotta allows you to earn cash back on your purchases at the grocery store. It’s as simple as scanning your receipts after your purchase and Voila! Money back! You can read more details about Ibotta Here.

I mentioned meal planning above, but if you skimmed right over that part I just want to stress again what an important tool meal planning has been in helping us reduce our grocery bill. You can download my meal planning guide here. This guide will give you a weekly meal plan printable, master list of meals, grocery list template and more!

Now that that’s out of the way here are the recipes.

All of these recipes can be made for under $10 and are all family friendly meals! I’ve tried to include recipes that only include pantry staples. No crazy ingredients that you’ll try once and never use again.

Dinner Recipes

Chicken Divan - Cheap Family Friendly Meals

Easy Chicken DivanMore the Marier (pictured above)

Crunchwrap SupremeDelish

Orange Glazed ChickenSouthern Living

Stewed Pork and SquashMy Recipes

Chicken PaprikashMartha Stewart

Baked Ranch Chicken Tenders and VeggiesDamn Delicious  

Poor Man’s Stew The Magical Slow Cooker

Meatball SubsGood Cheap Eats

Pizza CupcakesBigger Bolder Baking

Chili Pasta SkilletI Wash You Dry

One Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice The Girl Who Ate Everything


These hearty soups are delicious and filling. You can serve them alone or with bread, fruit or a side salad.

Potato Soup - Cheap family Friendly Meal Ideas

Easy Slow Cooker Potato Soup Families with Grace (pictured above)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla SoupBudget Bytes

Cheesy Ham Corn ChowderTaste of Home

Winter Vegetable Minestrone Soup  – Peas and Crayons

Easy Italian Sausage and Pasta SoupThrifty Frugal Mom



A good inexpensive side can transform a meal immediately.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese - Cheap Family Friendly Meal Ideas

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese Journey to SAHM (pictured above)

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Green BeansSavor and Savvy

The Easiest Homemade Steak FriesFaith Filled Food For Moms

Restaurant Style Fried RiceAll Recipes

5 Minute Parmesan Ranch BroccoliYellow Bliss Road

Baked Sweet Potato ChipsMinimalist Baker


Snacks and Treats

3 Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies - Cheap Family Friendly Meal Ideas

3 Ingredient Healthy Oatmeal Banana CookiesTons of Goodness (pictured above)

Choco Banana BarsLittle House Living

Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake CookiesFabulessly Frugal

Homemade Strawberry MuffinsThe Hillbilly Housewife


Gluten Free Meal Ideas

Mediterranean Dish - Cheap Family Friendly Meals

Simple Mediterranean Tomato DishSage and Citrus (pictured above)

No Fuss Gluten Free MeatloafThe Spruce Eats

Steak FajitasPaleo Newbie

Mustard Glazed Salmon SteaksWoman’s Day

Crispy Gluten Free Chicken StripsThe Movement Menu

These cheap meal ideas that are kid friendly are good for your budget and your health! These easy dinner recipes are perfect for when you are low on cash. Each recipe is under $10! #cheapmeals #budgetrecipes
dairy case in the grocery store
Grocery Haul and Meal Plan Series

Grocery Haul and Meal Plan – Week 7

This year for Thanksgiving it was just the four of us. I still made a 12 .lb turkey with all the trimmings.

Despite how much we ate on Thanksgiving, we had A TON of leftovers. Because of that, my grocery haul was pretty light this week. We ate leftovers until Sunday and I still had some items in the freezer and pantry so I decided to just do an Aldi haul.

If you haven’t been following my weekly grocery haul series, here is a quick recap: We are a family of four with a $125/week budget. I shop mostly at Aldi and Sprouts and we eat most meals at home and everyone takes lunch to school.

If you’re looking for tips and inspiration for making a healthy meal plan, you should check out this Healthy Meal Planning Bundle – It includes tons of recipes, ready to use meal plans with shopping lists and prep notes and a whole bunch more. You can download some sample meal plans from the bundle for FREE here.

Grocery Haul

Grocery Haul and Meal Plan for a family of four. #budget #mealplan


Quick Oats – $2.39

Sparkling Water 12pk – $2.39

Frozen mixed vegetables – $0.79

Frozen Corn – $0.79

Lunchmeat – $2.49

Organic Chicken – $6.71

String Cheese – $2.79

2 x Sliced Cheese – 2 x $1.99

Colby Jack Cheese – $1.99

Dozen Eggs – $0.86

Cream Cheese – $1.29

English Muffins – $0.99

Multigrain Chips – $1.89

Organic Bread – $3.29

Apple Sauce – $1.69

Bananas  2.21lb x .43/lb – $0.95

Cucumber – $0.59

Broccoli Crowns – $1.19

Sprouted Bread – $2.99

Garden Salad – $0.79

Oranges – $3.89

Gala Apples – $3.39

2 Gallons of Milk – 2 x $2.35

Total (with Tax) – $57.32

Grocery haul and meal plan for a family of four on a budget. See exactly what we eat and how much we spend! #budget #mealplan

Meal Plan

I always like to share what I used from my pantry or freezer. This week I had leftover Thanksgiving foods, frozen pizza, rice, crackers, carrots, and pancake mix.


Leftovers (2 nights)

Frozen Pizza with salad and carrot sticks

Paprika Chicken with rice and broccoli

Vegetable Stir fry with Rice

Breakfast for dinner – scrambled eggs, toast and fruit


Crackers, ham and cheese and cucumber slices

Peanut butter and honey sandwiches

Turkey sandwiches


English Muffins




Multigrain Chips

String Cheese





Check out the full Grocery Haul and Weekly Meal Plan Series to see how I’ve been doing with my grocery budget and find more meal plans.

Need some more dinner time inspiration? Check out this post on 25 Easy Meals for Busy Nights.