Meal Planning, Differently

I cannot figure out how to meal plan traditionally
 I have read/watched lots of mom-bloggers and vloggers and many seem to plan out a week or more of meals, then hit up Costco or Sam’s Club and buy all the things needed to have said meals.  Some do a wonderful job of stocking up on meat or staples on sale, and keeping multiple pantries or freezers full of things to use in future weeks.

Here is my struggle:

First off, I don’t belong to any warehouse clubs.  I have never been able to justify the membership fees, or the drive to the nearest one (20 miles), nor do I have multiple pantries or a deep freezer.

Second, I have a rather poor selection of grocery stores near me (no Aldi or Trader Joe’s or discount groceries!)

Third, I refuse to coupon.  I don’t have the attention span/patience for that, and I don’t subscribe to a physical newspaper.

So I spend an arm and a leg on groceries?
I quite literally don’t buy any food items that aren’t on sale.

Essentially, I meal plan in reverse.

I get my weekly grocery store ads on Wednesday.  During nap time, I sit down and make a grocery list by seeking out the food we eat that is on sale or store coupon.  I am looking mostly for meat, produce, and dairy, as we don’t really eat processed food. (Personal preference, we actually don’t like the taste of most processed food.  We are not food snobs.  We eat a lot of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and M&Ms, okay?)
Neither store I have available requires me to actually cut out coupons, so I just take my ad to the store with me and they scan whatever coupons apply.  I do not clip coupons from anywhere.  If the store has a hanger-coupon-thingy by an item, great, I’ll pull it off and take it with me to the checkout.

I make my list for each store, then I get out my list of dinners.  I compare the dinners list to the fresh foods on my shopping list, and decide 5 meals I can make to use the produce or meat that is on sale this week.
Then I plug them into my weekly planner based on amount of prep time, my husband’s after-school schedule, and events going on.

That’s it.
We shop on Saturdays, together as a family (free activity!) and my husband makes Saturday dinner (so I don’t plan it.)  On Sunday, we tend to make a large meal like roast or a whole chicken, which we use as leftovers if we need more food for lunches or if we will be very busy one afternoon.  I usually have the freezer space to freeze half a roast if necessary.

Speaking of, we have leftovers for lunch.  Everybody, every day.
And we eat cold cereal, toast, or oatmeal for breakfast.


It’s not fancy.  Sometimes it gets repetitious because of seasonal vegetables or dry spells in meat sales.  Some weeks we have precious little meat, or the same meat every night.
But that’s okay!  We eat mostly whole foods, mostly healthy, and it gets done on a budget.  Goals accomplished.

Keep a lookout for my list of dinners!  I’ll link it here when it’s finished.
Also something about my planner.  Which might be my second-best friend in the world.