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Large Family Weekly Meal Plan Intro

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So I’ve been mentioning on here for a few weeks about how I’m working to cut our grocery budget. Our monthly grocery and household expenses hit an all-time high in July. We paid out one and half times our monthly mortgage payment on groceries and household items. That’s insanity and we cannot continue to do that or we’ll be homeless. Changes had to be made.

The biggest change was in attitude. Food is a necessity, not a luxury. I’m the biggest offender in the house. I eat when I’m sad, when I’m stressed, when I’m happy….food is completely tied to my emotions and I needed to break out of that unhealthy pattern. Sitting down and having a budget meeting with Matt after adding up all of our new expenses with all 4 kids in charter school was eye-opening and scary. Nothing like seeing the cold hard reality of barely making ends meet each month to help you break bad habits! 

Once I saw that the biggest change we could make to help our financial situation was with the grocery and household budget, I got busy. It took me over a month to formulate my plan. First, I went through my recipes and picked out 24 favorites that I felt confident the kids would eat without complaint. Then I made a list of every ingredient needed for those recipes and everything else we need to run the household for a month- breakfasts, lunches, snacks, etc. The next part was the most time consuming. I price checked every item. I shop at 3 stores- Aldi, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. I used the Walmart grocery app and the Sam’s Club app to look up each item and then I hit Aldi to price check in person. Once I had every single item priced at all 3 stores I came home to sort it out and make my lists. I added up the total cost for each meal and then I replaced some of the more expensive dinners with cheaper ones. 

Finally I had my meal plan for the month along with my grocery lists. I do Sam’s Club once a month and then Walmart pick up and Aldi once a week. I made separate shopping lists for each week using my List Ease app which lets me input prices so I can see my total cost. I’m committed to sticking to my lists, resisting impulse purchases, and trimming when necessary. My goal is to get our grocery and household budget to under $800 per month. I know that still sounds like alot but compared to the nearly $2000 we spent in July and considering that we are a family of 6 right now with a large varsity football player who can eat like a horse, that’s pretty reasonable. 

So for the next few months I’m going to be sharing my weekly meal plans complete with cost breakdown and grocery lists. I’m hoping it will help me stay accountable and maybe it will help some of you as well if you’re looking to cut your grocery costs! 

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5 Tips For Easy Meal Planning

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I’m a big fan of meal planning. I’ve been able to cut our monthly grocery bill in half by dedicated meal planning. I do my meal planning every week now. I toyed with doing it monthly but for some reason it was harder to stick to so I went back to weekly. 

1. Make a list. Or two. I have a list of our family favorite meals and a second list of meals that I want to try out. I generally attempt to include one new meal every week. Some of our current family favorite dinners started out on the new dinner list. 

2. Know what you have. I don’t overbuy as a general rule so it’s easier to know what I have on hand in the pantries, fridges, and freezers. When I start my weekly meal plan I check to see what I have first and choose dinners that use those ingredients if I can. 

3. Be flexible. I usually don’t assign dinners to specific nights. I’m a rebel and if I see that I’m scheduled to make spaghetti on Thursday then I automatically want pizza. Ha! So I just choose the meals in no specific order. The only exception would be nights that I need to use my crockpot because of sports or activities. 

4. Keep easy dinners on hand. I always keep the ingredients for a couple of easy, fast dinners on hand for those nights that just go wrong and the meal plan flies out the window. 

5. Use a recipe app. I use a free app called OrganizEat and it’s amazing. I have all my dinner recipes organized into categories and I reference this app when I do my meal plan. It literally takes me 10 minutes to do my weekly meal plan. 

Meal planning doesn’t have to be a chore or a pain. It can be so easy and extremely helpful, especially if you’re on a tight budget like we always seem to be. The kids are happy because their favorite dinners make it into the meal plan and Matt is happy because we’re not spending money eating out. 

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My New Monthly Meal Plan

I have a confession. I haven’t followed a meal plan in the last 3 months. And our grocery budget is out of control y’all. Seriously out of control. Matt looked at me the other day when I came home from the grocery store for the third time in less than 10 days and said “Who do you think we are? Kardashians?” That’s when I knew it was time to get back into some serious meal planning. Ha! Our new school schedule this Fall is going to make it very challenging for me so I spent some time really thinking out this new meal plan. Ty has football practice every day that ends at 5 and his school is 35-40 minutes away. Maia has to be picked up at her new bus stop for her new school at 3:40 and the stop is 10 minutes away from our house. The 2 little kids get off the bus on our street at 4:30. It’s going to be a whole big thing trying to figure out schedules. To combat the time issues I recently splurged on a new programmable crockpot that will turn itself to warm after a set amount of time. I also added a bunch of crockpot meals to our monthly meal rotation. Some of these meals are new to us so if they are good I’ll be sharing them here. I’m planning 6 meals a week with one Find Your Own dinner night which will probably be Saturday nights. We typically have no leftovers and if we do, Matt takes them for lunch the next day. 

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Week One:

1. Crockpot Chili & Cornbread

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2. Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells; Side Veggie

3. Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

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4. Crockpot Ritz Chicken Casserole; Side Veggie

5. Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

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6. Crockpot Tangy Meatballs over Rice; Side Veggie

Week Two:

1. Cheesy Chicken Manicotti; Side Salad

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2. Crockpot Chicken Taco Bowls

3. Crockpot Spicy Vegetable Rice Soup

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4. Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

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5. Crockpot Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

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6. Crockpot Chicken & Gravy over Mashed Potatoes; Side Veggie

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Week Three:

1. Crockpot Cheesy Chicken & Rice

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2. Crockpot Taco Soup

3. Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie Soup; Biscuits

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4. Crockpot Meatball Stroganoff; Side Veggie

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5. Spaghetti; Garlic Bread; Side Salad

6. Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili

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Week Four:

1. Crockpot Chicken Stroganoff; Side Veggie

2. Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup; French bread

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3. Crockpot Chicken Not Pot Pie

4. Crockpot Chicken Fajita Soup

5. Crockpot Hearty Vegetable Soup

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6. Blackened Chicken Alfredo Pasta; Side Veggie

I cannot wait to try some of the new recipes. I picked things that I think my kids will love but also stuff that fits in with Ty’s football diet needs. I’m starting this new meal plan next week and I’m excited even we are eating soup in the middle of summer. It’s never too hot for chili, y’all. 

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Monthly Menu Plan: March 2016

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March Meal Plan:

1- Crockpot Red Beans, Sausage, & Rice

2-Baked Taco Lasagna

3- Crockpot Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches; Steak Fries; Corn

Crockpot Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches

4- Leftovers

5- Grilled Burgers & Brats; Zucchini Boats; Pasta Salad

6- Crockpot Stuffed Pepper Soup

7- Crockpot Cheesy Chicken & Rice

8-Crockpot 3 Meat Pizza Casserole

Crockpot 3 Meat Pizza Casserole

9- Cheesy Pepper Jack Chicken Bake; Broccoli

10- Leftovers

11- Fish Sandwiches; Onion Rings; Chili Carrots

12- BBQ Ranch Chicken Pasta

13- Crockpot Spicy Vegetable Rice Soup

14- Cheesy Chicken Manicotti; Side Salad

Cheesy Chicken Manicotti

15-Baked Mini Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole; Steak Fries

16- Cheesy Chicken Divan

17- Leftovers

18- Seafood Macaroni & Cheese; Corn

19- Grilled BBQ chicken legs; Sweet Potato fries; Coleslaw

20- Crockpot Meatloaf Sloppy Joes; Onion Rings

Crockpot Meatloaf Sloppy Joes

21- Southwestern Chicken Roll ups

22- Oven Baked Meatball Subs; Tater Tots

23- Leftovers

24- Pesto Ranch Chicken Pasta

25- Lemon Shrimp Linguine; Side Salad; Breadsticks

Lemon Shrimp Linguine

26- Baked Chili Cheese Dogs; Steak Fries

27- Meatball Parmesan Stacks; Side Salad

28- Baked BBQ Chicken Tacos

BBQ Baked Chicken Tacos

29- Leftovers

30- Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo; Side Salad; Garlic Bread

31- Layered Taco Salad

**Who wants a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card? Head over HERE and tell me about your funny family stories using #LetsGetReal and have a chance to in that $100 Visa Gift Card. 

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Monthly Menu Plan: February 2016

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February Meal Plan:

1- Crockpot Cheesy Lasagna Soup; Breadsticks

Crockpot Cheesy Lasagna Soup

2- Crockpot Chicken & Gravy; Broccoli

3- Crockpot Taco Soup

4- Leftovers

5- French Fried Onion Chicken Pasta Casserole; Asparagus

French Fried Onion Chicken Casserole

6- Fish Sandwiches; Tater Tots; Corn

7- Super Bowl Party!

8- Crockpot Chicken Soft Tacos

9- Cajun Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo; Garlic Bread

10- Crockpot Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

Crockpot Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

11- Easy Cheesy Chicken Bake; Green Beans

12- Leftovers

13-Crockpot Meatball Ravioli Bake; Side Salad

14- Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie Soup

15- Cheesy Stuffed Shells; Side Salad; Breadsticks

16- Crockpot Meatball Stroganoff; Sweet Peas

17- Leftovers

18- Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili

19- Crockpot Tangy Meatballs with Rice; Broccoli

20- Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

21- Leftovers

22- Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup; French Bread

23- Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

24- Spaghetti; Side Salad; Garlic Bread

25- Leftovers

26- 8 can taco soup

27- Crockpot Chili & Cornbread

Crockpot Game Day Crockpot Chili

28- Cheesy Bacon Chicken Shells; Corn

29- Tacos

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