Meal Planning To Save Money and Time

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You know how it is, you get home, you are tired and still have housework to do and order a pizza or Chinese or you start making your favourite recipe only to find you are missing a key ingredient. Meal planning can save you both time a money.

Personally, I am not into one day cooking, but it works for lots of SmartCanucks members. We do use leftovers from dinner for lunches the next day to save on cooking a second time or buying additional food.

Meal planning can help you save in several ways

  • You buy less at expensive prices
  • You waste less
  • You eat out / eat convenience foods less (healthier too!)
  • You spend less time deciding what to cook

How to plan your meals

First, see what food items you have. If you already have chicken in the freezer, why pay more for it this week, wait for it to go on sale. Make a list to see what you have and think about what meals/recipes match them and what other items you will need to make those meals.

Then it is time to get out those flyers. See what is cheap this week. If pork tenderloins or packs of ground chicken are on sale – plan your meals around those and buy extras to freeze for weeks when meat is expensive. SmartCanucks makes this easy with our weekly ‘Produce & Grocery Staples Deals’ thread)

Make a list of meals with the ingredients beside them. I keep my favourite recipes on index cards and just pull out 6 for the week (we always factor in going out or getting a pizza). If I know it will be a busy week, I include something like frozen pizza depending on what is on sale that week. It is just the two of us, so when I cook, I cook for 6 – we eat that night, have a lunch portion for the fridge and another dinner portion for the freezer. If we eat out one night, we can use those dinner portions for lunches.

Write (or print) your meal plan. How often have you been on your way home and realised that you forgot to take something out of the freezer. Having a copy on your fridge will remind you to get that meal ready.


Write out your shopping list. I price match many of my groceries at Walmart, FreshCo or No Frills rather than going store to store. That way I can get the best deals without spending too much time to save the extra money. We will be covering price-matching in a future blog.

Go Shopping. Stick to your list but have another meal in your head in case something is not in stock or if there is a store special for a great deal.

It is a good idea to research budget recipes before planning, some good sites to start with are:

AllRecipesSimply RecipesCanadian LivingEating WellSkinnyTaste

There are lots of different meal planners online, but feel free to use mine here pdf

This blog is part of our New to SmartCanucks series, click here to read more blog posts in the series

7 responses to “Meal Planning To Save Money and Time”

  1. nicolthepickle says:

    I’m terrible at meal planning.I don’t really like the idea, preferring to cook as inspiration strikes, but inspiration can’t strike 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Maybe I should try it.

  2. FallenPixels says:

    We usually try a new recipe too, if it is on the plan I actually get around to doing it

  3. Marissa7234 says:

    Before I started meal planning 2 years ago, I would hate grocery shopping, randomly buy something in the store and then it would end up going bad before I had the chance to make it. Now that I plan my meals out for the week I’ve started saving money by choosing meals based on whats on sale (price-matching!) and whats in the freezer. My husband is more inclined to go grocery shopping with me because we stick to the list and its now an ‘in and out’ job. Another plus is that because I am more inclined to actually make what is on the meal plan that day (instead of just making a fast frozen meal) I’m eating healthier too! Its been a big plus for our household!

  4. tobiwobi says:

    This is one of my new years resolutions – meal planning. Found some nice looking weekly meal planning templates on the web to motivate me to fill them out 🙂

  5. Tracker says:

    I am interested to hear what everyone is spending per week for groceries. From what I have read around $50 – $75, but I have to admit I am double that. So excited to hear from the experts some of the tricks of the trade 🙂

  6. mojo says:

    Meal planning is all about being organized. Once you get that in place it is easy sailing. Make sure to save any leftovers for next day meals or even little pieces here and there. Sometimes we have “left over night” from what is in the freezer. You’d be surpriced. A little chili can be chili nachos, chili burgers or chili dogs. It can be made into a soup with some beef broth. Get creative and use google! Happy planning!

  7. L6941 says:

    This is very helpful! I cook supper meals in big pots so there is extra for another night and some for freezing. This way I dont have to cook every goddamn night. This is also a great way to make sure you are eating fresh (meat/veg) ingredients in your food, not factory processed crap.


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