Thursday, January 16, 2014

Budget Friendly Healthy Meal Planning

The beginning of this new year kicked off a healthy eating lifestyle as well as a no spend month. Well, if you know anything about healthy food you know....
Why oh why can't the cheap-o ramen noodles that I love so dearly be good for me?

After a couple of weeks I feel like I've got this eating healthy while sticking to a budget thing down and wanted share the method to my madness in hopes of helping some you achieve this as well, because who DOESN'T want to eat healthy and save money?

That's what I thought. 

The absolute BIGGEST component of me both eating healthy and saving money at the grocery store is PLANNING! I'm a planner by nature {can I get a woot-woot from my Type-A-Twin, Erin?} so I actually enjoy sitting down and meal planning / couponing each week {and prepping my meals as well}. If this sounds like torture to you, just trust me, it's not that bad and is SO worth it! 

I grocery shop on the same day every week, Friday. This alone has helped because I know I only need to plan / buy food / budget for 1 week's time. This also allows me to plan on the same day every week, Thursday. Getting in that routine makes it more likely that I'll actually follow through. 

I do ALL of my grocery shopping at Target. I do this for a couple of reasons:
1. Target is the
2. They have EVERYTHING 
3. Red Card Red Card Red Card!
4. Online Coupons

A couple of notes on that....

1. We have a Target DEBIT Red Card. Charging groceries to a credit card kind of defeats the purpose of trying to get out of debt, which is the whole reason to have a no spend month. Target offers a free Red Card that links to your bank account and simply auto-withdraws from your account. You get the benefits of 5% off every purchase but don't need to rack up more debt! Win-Win my friends, WIN FRICKIN WIN. 

2. If you don't know what Cartwheel is, get on your phone and download the app NOW. It's essentially Pinterest for Target coupons. I know, mind blown. You just save the coupons you want to use, they scan your phone at check out and BAM! Additional savings! 

3. You can combine Cartwheel, Target's online coupons, Target Weekly Ad coupons AND your Red Card. YES! YOU CAN!

So, with that knowledge, here's what I do every Thursday.

1. I create a word document and add a table for a week's worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners & snacks. Then I'll go through and enter meal ideas. I will usually hit up Pinterest at this point to get ideas and inspiration, especially for our dinners. I also jot down ingredients Jason wants to make his lunches, anything Kenley needs for her lunches, and anything else we NEED for the week {toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.}

2. Once the general plan is set I visit to search for coupons. If you haven't done this before, here's how to find coupons:

Click on the "Weekly Ad" link towards the top right of Target's home page. 
 Then scroll about halfway down the page {past the weekly ad} and you'll find the link for "Coupon Savings".
 This will bring you to the page where you can search and print coupons based on the categories on the right. It also shows your coupons and your savings!
SO easy! 

3. I will then visit Cartwheel and search / browse / pin all the coupons I can. 
*NOTE! It's taken me a long time to refuse the urge to buy things simply because of a coupon. Instead I will only print & pin coupons I actually need for the meals I plan. 

4. Next up, I tweak the meal plan based on the coupons available. If there's a great deal on steaks - I throw in a steak dinner or whatever. I simply do what I can to save on an item but remain healthy. 

5. Once my coupons & meal plan is finalized I write out a grocery list noting any coupons I have so I am sure to remember when shopping. I have also found that organizing my shopping list by aisle {yes, I know Target that well} helps cut my shopping time down by a ton!

6. I email myself the grocery list so that I have it on my phone and can pull it up while shopping. 

7. Then, I shop for groceries buying ONLY what is on the list. Target is FAMOUS for sucking you in and making you THINK you just have to have that Valentines Day themed mini-bucket from the Dollar Spot. I don't care if it's on sale for $0.50, if you don't NEED IT to survive, you don't buy it. 

8. Finally, you check out, save a butt load of money and eat healthy delicious meals for a week.


I'm sure this seems a little psycho, but honestly, I cannot express to you how much this has helped me meal plan, eat healthy, save money on groceries AND cut down on shopping time. Some extra effort on the front end more than pays off when I see the money I've saved on food and the pounds I've lost!


MIL said...

I love Target always have and my mom shopped there all the time. Grandma F worked there part time many years ago for something to do after all the kids left the nest. I wish there was one around here. But be cautious on your charges cause of the awful hacker scandal. More bogus charges are showing up for everybody. MIL loves you dearly ANY Kenny, J and Bailey!

P!nky said...

WOW oh WOW! You are a shopping, planning machine!

Bridget said...

Have you ever used the 'scan' feature on the cartwheel app? There are some stuff we NEED and I don't want to search through all the categories so I car code scan them after it's in my cart and it will let you know if there is a coupon.

On another note...I have found so many things cheaper @ Target than @ Cub recently and it has me thinking I need to switch my grocery store. I also am a Costco shopper because I can buy so many organic options for less.

Great post...need to make sure I always check the Target weekly add for coupons on the computer!

Jenn said...

I also do ALL of my shopping at Target (and then supplement at the local grocery store for the things I can't find). It's a one-stop shop and things are usually much cheaper than at the grocery stores. I've never used Cartwheel but I think I might try it now!

Dawn said...

You are so darn organized, lady!!

Erin LFF said...

You are so awesome and I love it!! I don't shop at Target for groceries, just because Kroger is more convenient, but the Target debit card is definitely the way to go!!

Carolyn said...

We're also loyal Target grocery shoppers! :) I still need to start printing coupons though! BAH!

Katie said...

I don't even want to say how much more organized you are than me. It's embarrassing. I'm totally going to try that cartwheel app though.

Ashley said...

I NEED to do this. Great tips! I wish we could use the cartwheel app at the Canadian stores.

Anonymous said...

So do you print or scan the coupons? If you have a lot does it chew up time to scan on your phone? They always seem to have an issue with mine never tried Target but other places, just curious.

Courtney B said...

This is totally not psycho! It's more inspirational for me! I love your discipline! I do SO well with sticking to my grocery list... but I suck at the meal planning! I need to pick a night a week to get the plan done and search for the coupons and call it good!
The closest Target to us is 45 minutes away and it's not a super Target so I can't grocery shop :( Bummer! But I MUST download the cartwheel app. How have I never heard of it before?!

Ashley @ Words About Waverly said...

Wow, this is too amazing!!!! Good job mama!

Bre said...

Great ideas and tools! Thanks!