Making a Meal Plan - From Rags to ReasonableI make terrible decisions when I’m hungry. As soon as my body runs out of sandwiches it’s a pretty straight line to poor decisions and being an emotional train wreck.

But even for people who don’t respond to food quite like I do… everyone knows not to shop when they’re hungry.

Perhaps not surprisingly, even though it has never ended well, I do it all the time.

When you’re hungry in a grocery store it’s easy to justify… anything.

I need the biggest steak there is, no wait… TWO OF THEM… because… um…” *it’s already in the cart*
I deserve these dunkaroos because I’ve had such a tough week stressing about how I have no work” #solidlogic

I think everyone can agree that saving money on food is a really nice idea, but when it comes to actually doing it, it’s just plain hard. We all end up eating what’s comfortable: whether that’s going to the local diner, or making the same meat and potatoes every night (regardless of price or season).

And even in the face of whatever admirable discipline we manage to muster, the grocery store/diner/whatever food source you’re going to flashes enough SPECIALS and 30% OFFS to completely confuse any logical part of your brain that might be left.

FACT: a great deal on something you don’t need… is still too expensive…cause… you don’t actually need it.

And to make matters worse, I am … not savvy. A good salesperson can sell me anything.

Oh sir, you look great with that pork tenderloin.
*Blush* “Really?” *sound of cash register*

So I have resorted to a tried and true method of defeating the impulse buy and saving a ton on groceries.

The Meal Plan!

Back in the days of my youth my mom used to make one every week. Mainly because we lived in the country and only did a weekly grocery run, but the concept is the same.

Just sit down at the end of every week (I do it on Sunday) and plot out what’s on the menu for the next 7 days. Then make a grocery list, head down to the store, turn off your brain (the whole thing.. Don’t want to take any risks) and ONLY BUY WHAT’S ON THE LIST.

Meal Plan Template - From Rags to Reasonable


Chris’s Tips for Making a Meal Plan

  • I make a few big meals for the week and then interchange leftovers so I’m not eating the same thing 4 meals in a row.
  • I flip through the flyers to see what’s on sale, just to get some ideas on what I could build a meal around.
  • Check out FLIPP: an awesome app that lets you download local flyers and view them all in one place. Solid resource for meal planning.
  • Snacks are essential. Budget food, but don’t leave snacks off the table.
  • Looking for ideas? There are like a billion recipe blogs, but one that’s particularly great is BUDGET BYTES. Great eats for cheap. (or a reader suggestion:GOOD AND CHEAP: EAT WELL ON 4 DOLLARS A DAY)


  • It saves me a heap of money. With a good meal plan I can cut down my food budget to around 60 bucks a week (which is a lot less than my standard shopping bill and is super helpful in those low income months).
  • LESS WASTE. It really bums me out how much food ends up getting thrown out of my fridge. But planning my meals out for the week really cuts it down, and forces a bit of creativity with the leftovers.
  • I don’t have to deal with that ‘what’s for dinner’ question. Only once a week… and I’m done!!
  • MEAL PLANNING DATE NIGHT: My girlfriend and I have started to make our Sunday meal planning sessions a night out at a new restaurant. It makes planning fun!


“Ugh… another PLAN?? I don’t want my life planned out! What about cravings, and being spontaneous and all of that artist stuff??”

Fair. I haven’t always been a ‘plan’ guy.

But I will say that planning my meals ahead of time has encouraged me to try more new restaurants and recipes than 10 years of doing it without a plan.

Taking a few minutes to really think about what I want to try and what I’m going to buy has worked out for me so much better than my ‘spontaneous’ hunger induced decisions ever did.

I may be lacking a cupboard full of pop tarts but I have an emptier trash can, a full stomach, and some spare cash…

Which sounds like a pretty good deal to me!