Meal Planning

I started meal planning after my first child was born out of sheer desperation to avoid ever buying her a “happy meal.” I was invited to a “freezer meal” party. While I hate going to shopping parties, I signed up in hopes of a miracle. It was the best health initiative I’ve ever made and it stuck. The freezer meal party was hosted by Wildtree. They send you color recipes, stickers for your freezer bags, and your grocery list for 10 meals. They also have an app to help you mix and match the unused freezer meal spices, you always have some left to make new meals. You prep all of the vegetables and meat into freezer bags and then you go to the party. You drink wine, taste a few recipes and finish your freezer meal with the spices you preordered. I’ve also become a big fan of these meals because I have food allergies. Their ingredients don’t have all of the added garbage that you typically find in spice mixes.

Cost

It was obvious that it would be a time savings activity. However, I was very skeptical about this being cost savings, so I calculated every single freezer meal batch I participated in. I added up my grocery shopping with their spices and each serving cost $2-3 dollars with leftover spices to use on other recipes. Now that I’m a “pro.” I use about 50% Wildtree freezer meal recipes and 50% basic freezer meals from Pinterest. I needed the structure of the meal plans to jumpstart this habit.

I wait to reorder my spices when they are having double bonuses for hosts. You can host a party and receive a ton of free spices. Typically, hosting a shopping party would make me feel guilty. I never want to encourage my friends to buy stuff but this is the rare instance that I feel like it’s actually saving them money. Also, building the meal prepping skill is priceless.

Planning

When I’m using my Wildtree spices, I pull up their app on my ipad and concurrently scan Checkout 51 or Ibotta and load coupons while building my grocery list. I stopped coupon clipping after I stopped receiving the newspaper but these apps have restored my couponing habit with a few clicks. Also, when I’m at the store I can load a few more if something comes up. Ibotta has an “anything” coupon where they give you 10-50 cents for just shopping and taking a picture of your receipt. You can also link your Baker’s or store loyalty card to the app, so you can click on the coupons and it automatically gets you money from what you buy.

Step by Step

  1. Go through your cabinets and look for so soon to be expired ingredients. Build your meal plan from those ingredients. I also like to pick out my recipes while scrolling through Ibotta or Checkout 51 app to see what groceries are on sale.
  2. Make your grocery list again while standing in the kitchen. Do not buy groceries you already have!
  3. Click through either Checkout 51 or Ibotta to find coupons for your ingredients, load them into the app.
  4. You can ask the meat counter to cube your chicken or beef while you get your other groceries. This can help save a ton of time. Also, if you are freezing your meals, use diced onions from the freezer section to save time.
  5. After you buy your groceries take a picture of the receipt. I usually do this in the parking lot before I drive home so I won’t forget.
  6. Plan for 2-3 hours to meal prep. I try to really think big picture. If I’m slicing carrots for a recipe, I slice extras for the kids’ lunches for the week. Sometimes I will boil eggs for a snack while I’m prep meals. Really hit it hard to reap the benefits all week.
  7. Next, make sure you write down exactly what the plan is for the week. Do not stray from this plan! I usually have the last meal of the week a freezer meal, so if we happen to have extra leftovers from the previous meals it can be pushed back for the next week. I also always have spaghetti, sauce, and frozen zoodles ready for any unexpected fast meals.

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