One of the best budget-saving things I’ve done is create a meal menu. Originally, I began with 28 of our favorite, easier recipes. As time went on and the same meals continued to resurface, that list has grown to 51 and still continuing to expand. The best part about this plan is that I know exactly what I’m making for dinner every night, and come grocery shopping time, I have a ready-made menu, which makes writing out the list incredibly easy and fast. (Check out my blog post How to Meal Plan for more information on how to organize your menu.) By doing this, I’ve been able to cut our grocery budget down to just $50 a week (thanks to our nearby Aldi grocery store)! Meal planning really works. Really, really works.
Now, on to the good stuff. I’ve included below enough recipe ideas to help you make it through four weeks worth meals. In our household, since we both are gone during the day at either school or work, I make enough food the night before so we can eat leftovers for lunch. Also, sometimes I plan lunch meals on weekends, but a lot of times we have so many leftovers that Saturday and Sunday lunches are also leftover meals. So far, this system is working great, and we’ve had to eat only a small number of sandwiches (yay!).
Some of these ideas are recipes I found on Pinterest or online (follow me on Pinterest for all kinds of meal ideas). If the recipe I mention is one on Pinterest, I’ll make sure to include a link (italicized) to it so you can find it. Happy planning!
- Taco Soup
- French Dip Sliders
- Beef Stroganoff
- Taco Bake
- Tator Tot Casserole
- Shish Kabobs
- Cheesesteak Casserole
- Beef Barley Soup (there’s a good recipe on the Quaker Barley box)
- Swedish Meatballs (I cheat and use the McCormick mix)
- Marlboro Man Sandwiches
- Salisbury Steak
- Cheeseburger Quesadillas
- Poverty Meal (otherwise known as Goulash)
- Amazing Chicken Casserole
- Chicken and Dumplings (I modify this and make it on the stove instead of the crock pot)
- Fried Chicken
- Chicken Alfredo
- Teriyaki Chicken Noodle Bowls
- Shish Kabobs
- BBQ Chicken
- Chicken Stir Fry
- Grilled Chicken
- Chicken Spaghetti
- BBQ Chicken Tostadas
- Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes
- Chicken Parmesan
- Chicken Wings
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Ritz Cracker Chicken Casserole
- Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
- Kielbasa (grilled or fried) and eaten in a bun
- Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan
- Pork Stir Fry
- Stuffing-Topped Pork Chops
- Garlic, Butter, and Mushrooms Pork Chops
- Italian Sausage and Tortellini
- Bacon and Cheese Quiche
- Pizza Sliders
So, there you go! This is 44 meal options with 18 recipes; more than 4 week’s worth of meals! The only thing you need to do is add sides. I stick to the basics: broccoli, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. There are so many options from these. I like to roast my veggies with a little olive oil, garlic salt/powder, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Soooo good. Just choose the sides you and your family likes and add them to your main dish ideas.
Keep in mind the different recipes when you determine the order. I like to mix up my meats so we have a variety of options throughout the week (I also watch for pasta dishes and spread them out). However, if one recipe calls for one pound of hamburger but the package I normally have on hand is two pounds, I’ll schedule another hamburger recipe a couple of days later so I can use the remaining thawed hamburger. Do the same with leftover chicken and pork.
Really, though, once you have your set list, this is about as easy as it can get, and you won’t be sorry you took the time to organize a meal menu!
What are your favorite kitchen tricks and recipes? Share below!