How To Meal Plan from Fun Cheap or Free

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is about groceries is how much to spend and how to make my recommended budget work for any household. (Check out this post and my recommendation for how much you should be spending on groceries.) Most families spend more on groceries than almost anything, except their mortgage. Crazy right?? One simple way to cut your grocery bill in half… is to MEAL PLAN!

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Here are my super simple steps to meal planning (the EASY way), so you can create healthy, homemade meals for your family AND save money at the same time! Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for new videos every Thursday!

Check out the video online or watch below:


Follow these four simple steps and you'll be a meal planning pro in no time!


Take an inventory of everything you have on hand in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. This may sound daunting, but don't freak out on me just yet!

Inventory Your Food from Fun Cheap or Free

Check out this post for some awesome printables and more detailed information.


Check the ingredients that are on sale for the week. I like to use the app Flipp or I really love Deals to Meals (I have used and loved them for years, plus they give good information about stocking up on food and how much you need).

You can also use the ads that you get in the mail. But here's a little tip for you – only check the front and back pages. That's where the real deals will be. The stuff in the middle is just fluff to make it look thicker!


This is where most people end up doing their meal planning backwards. Plan your meals using the ingredients that you already have. Figure out what you need to use up and have on hand, and then try to find the items that you need from the store on sale.

Search By Ingredient On from Fun Cheap or Free

I love to use (#notsponsored) to find meals I can make. You can search for the ingredients you have and it will find recipes that include those.


My rule is to shop at only ONE store, ONCE per week. Pick the store that has the best deals and go there. Use online grocery ordering (get $10 off your first order of $50 or more from Walmart!) and curbside pickup to make it quick and easy.

Instacart is also another GREAT way to keep you from splurging or making impulse purchases. A personal shopper does all of your shopping and then delivers your groceries at your door. Talk about convenience! It's great for those days that you really need something, but there's just no way that you're getting out of the house.


Here are a few tips that will make your meal planning go that extra mile!

  • Stock up on sale items (as long as your budget allows). My rule of thumb is one for now and two for later.
  • Make a weekly menu and keep it on your fridge or somewhere in your kitchen so that you know which meats to thaw before dinner. A cheap dry erase board is a great way to do this!
  • Plan for leftovers and eating out when you're doing your weekly meal planning. This will keep you from buying extra food that you don't need for that week.
  • Make double and freeze as you're cooking. This will save you later!
  • Make a recipe binder. Any time you make a recipe that you like, put it in your binder so that you end up with a huge cookbook of all your favorite recipes. Use dividers to section it up and you're good to go!
  • If you want to see how I specifically meal plan for my family of 8, make sure that you check out this post!

Leave me a comment and let me know how you meal plan and if you have any great tips I'm missing!

Meal Plan And Save Money from Fun Cheap or Free

Have you checked out yet? Our brand new site is dedicated to helping you cook delicious, nutritious and budget-friendly meals for your family without slaving away in the kitchen!

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Basically every parent's dream, right? Join our Shelf Cooking Community today!

If you need more help with your budget, don't forget about my awesome (if I do say so, myself) online budgeting program, Budget Boot Camp! It's a super fun video program that makes money easy to understand. All you need is a screen and you're set!  

And don't forget, if you don't save AT LEAST what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime. You've got nothing to lose! Use the code FCFBLOG to get an extra 10% off, because I love you 😉

Want more grocery tips?