The Little House Living Show – Episode 019 – Budget Friendly Meal Planning

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The Little House Living Show – Episode 019 – Budget Friendly Meal Planning

Thanks for joining me for the Little House Living Show podcast! My hope for this podcast is that it will be a new way for me to connect with you, my readers, and for you to be able to listen to my words even if you are driving or having a busy workday.

Today I’m talking all about the tips I have for budget friendly meal planning. I know there is going to be some in here that you aren’t already doing, so make sure you give this episode a listen!

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What’s In This Episode?

  • Prepping for meals
  • Pantry based meals
  • Having a baking day
  • Not planning around produce
  • Snacks!
  • New recipes
  • Meal Planning Binders
  • Challenge Foods

Links Mentioned in This Show


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Podcast Transcription

Intro (00:00):

Merissa (00:10):

Hello and welcome to the Little House Living Show. This channel is for those trying to live a simpler, slower, and more cost-effective life. My name is Marissa and I will be your host and your friend as we journey along together to find new tips and advice as well as lots of encouragement.


Hey guys, it is Merissa from Little House Living. It has been forever since I have recorded a podcast. I’m pretty sure a couple years and I’ve been wanting to get back into it, but the timing just wasn’t right. So now I’m hoping to get restarted again and this podcast will be available wherever you listen to podcasts. And then I’m gonna be putting it on YouTube as well. So let’s get started. So today I’m gonna talk about budget friendly meal planning. It’s something I feel like we kind of all know about a little bit, but I think that there’s some extra tips that we can utilize to help, especially in this day and age. Meals and food in general is super expensive and just keeps going up at the grocery store despite what they keep telling us about. The prices are gonna go down and just doesn’t seem to be happening.


So I am gonna share some tips that we use to keep our meal planning budget friendly and just some different things that we do. So the first thing that I do, and I do this every time I make a meal plan, is to prep food before and after I grocery shop. So that means cutting up veggies, cutting up fruit, anything that will help me make meals in the future. So not make entire meals, I guess we could fry up ground beef and some things like that. But for me it’s mostly prepping fruits and veggies. And so I like to prep those before and after I grocery shop. So you’ll always have them to prep after you grocery shop, but if you do it before as well, that kind of helps you use up what you already have in the fridge and some things that might be hiding.


And it will help you make your grocery list as well. Like you won’t buy things that you don’t necessarily need. So that’s always helpful for me to get that done in two different times. So the next thing that I do is to make meal plans based off of what is in my pantry and then just supplement with sale items. So it used to be kind of common that you’d look at the sale flyer for the grocery store and then decide what you’re having for your meals based off of sales and then go from there. But we found that it’s so much better and you use up way more stuff from your pantry. If you go in your pantry first shop there, then you can supplement with what you need for your meals from the grocery store, from what’s on sale, start with your pantry, start by using the things that you already have and that will really help cut down on that grocery list and your grocery budget for that week.


So the next thing is to have a baking day. This is something I’ve been doing for a super long time. I started blogging about it I think way back when I started my blog in 2009. And for me, a baking day is different than meal prep. I may do it on the same day as I’m doing meal prep. It just depends on the kind of time that I have that day. But a baking day is where I will go through my meal plan that I’ve made for that week and I will bake anything that has to be made. This is helpful because so many times I plan meals that need a loaf of bread or need tortillas made or something, and then I will get to the day that we’ve need that meal and then I won’t have time <laugh> to do the baking component of it.


So if I have one singular baking day and just kind of knock all of those things out, that really helps save a lot of time. And then if you can do that after you’ve made your meal plan, but before you’ve gone grocery shopping, it will also help knock a lot of items off of your grocery list because you’ll be thinking about what things can I bake instead of what things can I buy? So it’s always been really helpful for me. And oftentimes when I have that baking day, I’ll also make extra stuff for the next week. So say I’m making a batch of muffins and this week we’re making banana muffins. So instead of just making the singular batch that I need for that week, then I’ll make a double batch and I can put the second batch in the freezer and we can use it next week.


And I will save time on my baking day for next week. So that’s always something that’s been really helpful and I have a couple of blog posts on that, so I’ll make sure that I link them in the show notes so that you can check out how I kind of organize my baking day. ’cause It does take a little bit of organization and prep work, but ultimately I think it’s very worth it. Okay, so the next thing is to not plan your meal plan around produce, and that way you can use what’s fresh in your garden or what’s on sale at the store. So I used to always plan meals around what was seasonal, seasonal produce. And while that’s still somewhat of a good idea, I found that it’s better to start my meal plan first and just plan what I’m doing and not plan the produce section of that.


So I might plan the main part of the meal, like say we’re having goulash for supper, but I won’t plan the side dishes what we’re making for produce to go with that until after I know what we have in the fridge, what we have in the garden or what’s on sale that week. And that just gives you the flexibility to not have to buy certain types of produce. So say you wanna make a meal, but it’s very specific, it’s centered around spaghetti squash and it’s summer. So that’s gonna be expensive and just kind of hard to find. It’d be better to kind of plan your base meal, so like plan hamburgers for your meal and then see what’s on sale or see what you have in the garden at that time to make your side dishes and what’s gonna go along with the meal. It was just kind of a mindset switch for me, but when we started doing that, it has really helped.


And I think we actually eat way more produce now than we did before because I’m able to better incorporate the things that I can find and not feel so stuck on. Well, I have to buy this certain kind of produce this week because that’s what’s on my meal plan. So that has been a really big help for our family. All right, next tip. So this is a big one for my kids because they’re big snack eaters, but don’t forget snacks. They should be included in your baking day or included in your prep day. And those things should be planned before you go to the store because otherwise you’re just gonna spend money on snacks at the store instead of potentially just making them at home. The reason that I do this is because there’s a lot of snacks that my kids really like that I could buy at the store, like granola bars, but they’re super easy to make.


And if I plan ahead of time that that week we’re gonna have granola bars for snacks for a couple days, then I can include that on my baking day plans. And I don’t really think anything else of it. It saves me from having to buy a four $5 box of granola bars at the store. And I already have the ingredients in my pantry stockpile anyway. So that’s always important, at least for our family. We’re really big snack eaters, so I always make sure that I plan snacks with my meal plan and that helps me prep in advance so that we can save money on those items too. ’cause Snacks are super expensive. Everything is, but snacks seem particularly expensive right now. Alright, next tip. And that is to not make more than one new recipe a week. So I really like making new things. I, we don’t like to stick with the same old recipes all the time.


So making new recipes is kind of big deal for us. But I have had to limit that to one recipe week because I found that when you’re making new recipes, then you’re probably buying new ingredients that you don’t already have and then that adds to your grocery budget. So you can still make new recipes, but kind of try to limit it to one or two new recipes a week. That way you can make sure that you’re still using the things that you already have and it’s not something that’s gonna get wasted. It’s something that your family, even if they don’t like it, you’ve only tried it for one, one meal that week and it’s not gonna be a huge loss. So that’s kind of just a rule that we live by, even though we like to experiment with food and we like to try new recipes, it’s just kind of a good guideline.


All right, we’re getting towards the end, but I have two more tips for you that I want to get into this video. So my big one, and I talk about this all the time on the blog, is to have a meal planning binder that has helped me with my meal prep. Maybe not as much with the budgeting part of it, but just with the sanity part of it. So if you haven’t seen any of my videos on the meal planning binder or read any of the blog posts that I have, I will link that in the show notes. But basically it’s just a big binder and I have the majority of the recipes that we make in it. And that way each week at the beginning of the week, I can just pull out that binder, look through it, decide which recipes I’m gonna make that week, stick those in the front of the binder so I know where they’re at.


And that is pretty much all I have to do for meal planning. So it makes meal planning super easy. I know that those are recipes that my family is already gonna to eat. I probably have the majority of ingredients for those recipes ’cause it’s things that we make often. But that has been probably the singular best thing that I’ve done for meal planning ever since I started meal planning like 15 years ago. So that is really helpful. And like I said, I will link to that blog post where I talk about creating a meal planning binder in the show notes so that you can check that out. All right, and then my last tip is really fun. I started doing this a couple years ago when I found we had stuff in the pantry and stuff in the freezer that really needed to be used up.


And so I call it my challenge foods. And those are foods that I, I don’t pick them out. I have my husband pick them out and he’ll, he’ll go into the pantry and into the freezer and he’ll pull out several foods and if they’re freezer foods then we keep them in the freezer. If they’re pantry foods, then we sit ’em in a little bin on the countertop. And those are my challenge foods that I have to use for this week. So think of it as like one of those cooking shows where the contestants have some predetermined ingredients and they have to make meal based off of those ingredients. So basically that’s what I’m doing with my challenge foods and it’s kind of fun to try to incorporate the ingredients and sometimes it’s really hard if I have some random off the wall ingredient that I bought for some recipe that I never made or we didn’t like or something.


But that can be a really fun way to use up things that you already have in your pantry. It helps make the meal planning less boring and also helps you, like I said, use up those things that you have in your pantry that aren’t getting used up but you already paid for. So those can be a really great way and a really fun way to help you save money on your meal planning. So that is tips that I have for you today. I hope that some of these were helpful and I hope that some of them were new for you and that you might be able to incorporate them. I am just getting this podcast going again, so I am sure there’s gonna be some errors in this. But I’m excited to talk to you this week again and just kind of have a different kind of content than I’ve been doing for the last couple years. So if you have any comments or questions on this, be sure to send those to me. You can leave comments on either this video if you’re watching it or comments on the blog post or the show notes. And otherwise, I appreciate you listening to this and I’ll talk to you guys later.


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