Down and Dirty Meal Planning on a Budget

Weight Loss Essentials: Part 3 of 5

I suck at meal planning (and prepping).  I’ll just put that out there.

I’m working on it though because it not only affects the food choices I make but, my deciding factor, it screws with my budget.

I also don’t cook so the idea of meal planning has always been intimidating for me.  Thinking about/making one meal, terrifying, thinking about/making a weeks worth of meals, mental Armageddon.

But, I have to get better at meal planning.

I’ve convinced myself that this year I’ll be meal planning and prepping a whole weeks worth of food at a time because it’s going to help me meet my 2016 goals and priorities.

So, here’s my why’s and the goals they’re supporting for meal planning…

  1. I’ll be healthier (Managing PCOS)
  2. I’ll eat cleaner, simpler, and more locally (Life ‘Greening’)
  3. I’ll avoid processed and packaged foods (Life ‘Greening’)
  4. I’ll stick to my budget (Spend less, save more & Financial Independence)
  5. I’ll cook more (Getting my family healthier )

The plan:

Instead of jumping in whole hog, I’ve decided to ease myself into meal planning and prepping in bite sized chunks.

In January and February I am going to establish the habit by just planning and prepping my breakfasts and my Shakes.

Why these?

I eat pretty much the same thing every day so I can REALLY  make it a habit and I can refine the process so that it’s speedy enough I won’t avoid doing it.

During March and April I’m going to focus on snacks.  These are my second easiest area to plan for since my snacks tend to be simple.  I usually just go for a serving of Greek yogurt, some veggies and humus, or an apple and some nuts.

Then for May and June I want to try to add in soups, stews, and slow cooker/crock pot  recipes that I can rotate in for lunch or supper.

I think know that if I can get different kinds made in bulk and then freeze the extra in single serving portions, I’ll be able to grab and go when I want a fresh, homemade meal.

By July and August I’m going to have this routine down and a great habit made! #hopefully

So I’m a meal planning master, then what?

Well, after I’ve established my new healthy meal planning and prepping habit in stone, I’m going to start incorporating my BIG goals into it.

Late summer and fall are harvest times so I’m going to start looking for more locally grown and produced foods because one of my 2016 BIG goals is to live greener and create a sustainable lifestyle.

I’m also secretly hoping that by this time either I or my mom will have some things coming out of our backyard garden so I can save a little bit of money 😉

Here’s a link to the Mayo Clinic article I got my own meal planning started with.


Reality check! What exactly am I doing?

I’ve been having so much fun getting by breakfasts prepped and ready and my shake mix ins portioned out.  As an added bonus,  I’ve gotten a really good picture of how much money I’m eating spending on eating.

I purchase a majority of my groceries from 3 places: Woodman’s, Aldi’s, and Basics CoOp.  Woodman’s and Basics are locally owned business so I usually opt for them first and then go to Aldi’s if there’s a significantly better deal.

For breakfast I’m eating 2 egg cups with veggies, 2 slices of low sodium turkey bacon, and a cup of broccoli with a cup of decaf tea.

Total breakfast cost (varies depending on sales/season): $1.51

  • Egg Cups (9 Days Worth) ~ $0.86 per day
    • Dozen and a Half Eggs- $3.50 ish ($0.39 per day) 
    • 1 Red Onion – $0.99 ($0.11 per day)
    • 1 Red Pepper – $1.29 ($0.14 per day)
    • 3 Anaheim Peppers – $2.00 ish ($0.22 per day)
  • 2 1lb pags of Broccoli- makes 7 Days worth $1.78 ish ($0.25 per day)
  • 1 Package of Low Sodium Turkey Bacon- Makes 9 Days worth $2.29 ish ($0.25 per day)
  • 1 Tin of Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro Decaf Tea $5.99, 40 cups ($0.15 per day)

I drink 2 shakes a day because I’ve found that by themselves, I’m not great at eating fruits and veggies… and I have a sweet tooth so a chocolate shakeo usually keeps me away from the candy.

Shake 1: Chocolate Shakeology, 1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 cup greens, 1 scoop greens boost, and a Tablespoon of either ground Flax or Chia seeds

Total Cost: $7.26 ish

  • 1 Bag of Shakeology at Coach’s price (30 servings)- $99.60 ($3.32 per day)
  • 1 Tub of Power Greens (20 servings) – $34.95 ($1.75 per day)
  • 3-4 Containers of Blueberries (7 days) ~$8.00 ($1.14 per day)
  • 1-2 Containers of Raspberries (7 days) ~ $4.00 ($0.57 per day)
  • 1 small containers of spring greens kale mix (7-10 days)~ $2.50 (~$0.35 per day)
  • 1 Bag of Flax Seed (56 servings)- $7.29 ($0.13 per day)

If I’m feeling particularly broke I’ll usually save  some money by substituting an apple for the berries. 

Shake 2: Vegan Shakeology, 1 frozen banana

Total Cost: $3.42 ish

  • 1 Bag of Shakeology at Coach’s price (30 servings)- $99.60 ($3.32 per day)
  • 2 Pounds of Bananas (aprox. 8) – $0.80 ($0.10 per day)

So for my 21 Day Fixers my container counts stand at:

  • 3.5 (of my 4) Daily Reds
  • 2 (of my 3) Daily Purples
  • 2 (of my 4) Daily Greens
  • 1 (of my 1) Daily Oranges
  • 0 (of my 1) Daily Blues
  • 0 (of my 3) Daily Yellows (Big win!)
  • ~ 45 ounces ( of my daily 90) of Water

So, for a majority of my nutritional needs and personal satisfaction I’m spending at the most $12.19 per day, less than 15 minutes a day to blend up my shakes, and once a week about 2 hours to prep and cook my breakfasts (about 20 minutes a day if you want to spread it out).

Bonus!  I’m staying away from the drive through, spending less on candy, and I’ve noticed that I have tons more energy when I stick to this plan.

Other Posts in this Series:

Goals: Meet Em and Beat Em, please click here.

Meal Tracking = Weight Loss, please click here.

Original Post: 5 Weight Loss Tricks, please click here.