Meal planning is the ultimate key to keeping your food budget under control. I’m going to be honest, it took me three years to finally start to meal plan. Our food budget for two people was maxed out at $800 for a month. We were out of control. At that time, I would have given anything to have a budget-friendly meal plan.
I was so lost on where to even start. It took a lot for me to even say, “yes, I’m going to put in the effort to meal plan.” Then, once I did, I had no freaking clue what I was doing. My mind started spiraling into a pit of despair about meal planning.
- What meals would be good?
- What meals wouldn’t take me 5 hours to make, cuz I work full-time and I am tired!
- What meals would be the most cost-effective?
- How often would I be at the store?
There was nothing out there to tell me what to do. I really wanted to meal plan, but I was frustrated with not knowing how to accomplish it.
Out of frustration, I ended up just starting super small and my first meal plan looked something like this:
Monday – Tacos
Tuesday – Spaghetti
Wednesday – Brinner (breakfast for dinner)
Thursday – Macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets
Friday – Frozen pizza
Saturday – Lunch meat sandwiches
Sunday – Leftovers
It was not very healthy, BUT, it was cheap, easy to make and food I knew we liked. It was a place to start.
What I wish I would have had was a budget-friendly meal plan like Meal Squeeze.
This past Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a gift subscription to a meal plan service called Meal Squeeze. I’ll admit, I was a bit hesitant to try it because my husband is very picky about food.
Once I tried it, we have yet to meet a meal we don’t like. My husband is LOVING this meal plan.
I wish I had had this when I was starting to meal plan. It would have made the whole process a lot easier for me and I think I would have been much more successful with it earlier.
Let’s dive into all that Meal Squeeze has to offer because honestly, I can’t shut up about it. It’s freaking fantastic. Maybe I love it because Tonya, the dietician, and creator of Meal Squeeze, is a Midwesterner like me. Or, maybe I love it because it requires zero effort on my part, all I have to do is follow her plan.
The Best Budget-Friendly Meal Plan is Meal Squeeze.
How Meal Squeeze works:
Ready for how simple this is? Once you have signed up with Meal Squeeze you simply:
- Download & Print your meal plan for the week (they are published a week at a time)
- You pick the number of servings you want (2, 4, 6, 8)
- You can also specifically select plans based on Hy-Vee, Fareway or Aldi stores.
There is an awesome supportive Facebook group where you can ask questions and build community. Tonya is also very responsive if you have any specific questions about the meal plan.
Who is Tonya at Meal Squeeze?
Tonya is a registered dietician and is the creator of Meal Squeeze. She’s pretty amazing because not only does focus on making easy to put together, nutritious meals, she also has a focus on building family together time.
Each week’s meal plan comes with these super creative conversation starters to promote good conversation over dinner. How fun is that?!
How much time does the Meal Squeeze meal plan require?
- Zero time is required to create a meal plan. Remember? It’s all done for you!
- Zero time is required to create a shopping list. A completely organized shopping list is created for you. AND, it has these cute little checkboxes next to each item so you can check things off and keep your shopping list super organized (that just speaks to my type-A personality).
BONUS! If you don’t like one of the meal, it will be labeled in your shopping list, so you’ll know exactly which ingredients you don’t need to purchase.
- A weekend prep time is optional (30 minutes) to help you save time during the week. This consists of cooking your meats, chopping your vegetables, etc. to save you from having to do it during the week.
- Each meal can be whipped up in about 30 minutes. This was a total God-send for this tired mama after a long day at work, hangry children home from daycare and a hungry husband asking what’s for dinner (do you know what I’m talking about?).
READY TO GET STARTED? SIGN UP FOR MEAL SQUEEZE RIGHT NOW!
Walk me through a normal day of meal preparation:
There is a cute sheet you can print off that lists the meals for the week. When I get home from work, I consult the sheet hanging on my fridge and see what’s for dinner.
I pull out the recipe for the meal on the menu. This recipe has all the ingredients I need to pull out and instructions for putting it all together.
It’s pretty amazing actually, when I just follow her directions, the meals are always timed perfectly so everything is done and we are ready to eat while stuff is still warm (unless my toddler has a meltdown or my youngest has a blow-out…you know, sometimes moms don’t get to sit through a meal).
The meals are super healthy (especially compared to my first meal plan), but if I wanted to know exact nutritional information, all of that is included with the meal plan as well.
I thought you were an extreme budgeter Rachel? How does this meal plan fit into that?
Great question! Here’s the thing. Most people spend waaayy too much on food every month and don’t know how to even begin to meal plan to save money. It’s all so overwhelming when you first start.
When I was doing our bare bones meal plan of not-so-healthy meals and eating the same stuff week after week, we spent on average $250/month for a family of four.
Since beginning to use Meal Squeeze:
- I don’t have to waste my time coming up with a meal plan on my own
- I don’t have to spend 30 minutes of my life (or more) writing down a shopping list
- My husband is actually complimentary of the food we eat (and my cooking! Score!)
- We have leftovers to take for lunch the next day
- We are eating healthy meals I never would have thought to make
- We increased our budget to $350/month…BUT, this is for a family of 6 servings, not just 4 like we were doing before. So I think it shakes out to be about the same with so many additional benefits.
The one thing I am bummed about with the Meal Squeeze meal plan.
I have found with Meal Squeeze that I can no longer grocery shop just once a month (which I really love doing). If I try to buy everything at once, all of the produce is rotten by about week 3 and 4 of the month, and that wastes my money.
So, as a compromise, I buy everything I possibly can (meats can be frozen), I buy canned and frozen versions when possible and I hold off on produce for weeks 3 and 4. Halfway through the month, I go back to the store for a second time to buy the rest of the produce for week 3 and week 4 of the meal plan.
This has increased my trips to the grocery store from one to two, but for all the benefits of the plan, I can live with that.
Can this meal plan be made even more budget-friendly?
YES! Tonya understands the need for us to live on a budget and try to keep food costs to a minimum….all without sacrificing good nutrition and flavor. For the super budgeter, she has now started to include 3 meals every week that are based on Hy-Vee, Fareway and Aldi ads to help you save even more money!
How super saving is that?!
What’s the cost of this budget-friendly meal plan?
My friends, this is where it gets really good. When I found out what Tonya’s prices were for the quality of meal plans and support she was offering, I was totally blown away.
I know the time and effort it takes to design a meal plan and create the shopping list alone, but she is also offering online support, additional budget meal options, the option to customize your plan, a weekend prep list and organizing/categorizing your shopping list by ingredients and equipment.
Her basic meal plan includes:
- 7 Weekly meal plans with 7 balanced recipes and one dessert every week
- A fully organized and categorized shopping list to make it super easy (don’t forget those checkboxes!)
- Optional weekend prep list to save time during the week
- Nutritional information
- Conversation starters for the whole family
- Access to past recipes
- Videos with tips and tricks for cooking and storage
- Ideas for kid entertainment while you are mastering the kitchen
The basic plan (that’s what I have) is only $3.25/month. That is less expensive than a tall Caffee Mocha from Starbucks (yes, you read that correctly, it is less expensive than Starbuck’s smallest size mocha). That’s insane!!!
If you want even more from your meal plan, her premium option includes:
Everything listed above PLUS…
- Access to the mobile app which will let you have access to
- Grocery list
- Recipe Archive
- Change the number of servings to adjust your list
- Customize your meal plan
- Add recipes if you have any dietary restrictions/food allergies
The premium plan is only $4/month. I just can’t believe how reasonable her prices are for her meal plans.
SIGN ME UP NOW! TAKE ME TO MEAL SQUEEZE TO GET MY FOOD BUDGET UNDER CONTROL!
If I had known this existed when I was starting to meal plan, I could have saved myself a lot of frustration.
If I am trying to save as much money as possible, is it worth it to spend the money on a meal plan service?
Hands down yes. Here’s why:
If you spent $4 but saved $500, would you do it? Not a trick question, I promise.
Yes, of course, you would! This is what Meal Squeeze can do for you. If your food budget is out of control, you need to start meal planning. If you don’t know how to meal plan, you need Meal Squeeze. The money for the meal plan is going to give you 10 times the return on investment at least. It could give you 100 times your investment!
In my family, it has ended up costing us about $50-$100 more each month compared to our bare bones meal plan, but the benefits out-weigh the cost. I have gotten so much more of my time back and my stress level is drastically reduced. I don’t have to put tons of effort into meal planning, meal prep or grocery shopping. Those are all wins. AND, my husband eats the food. I just can’t find anything else as good.
If you would like to sign up with Meal Squeeze, and I strongly recommend you do, your life is definitely going to be changed for the better. Click here to check it out, sign up and get your life back.
Meal Squeeze has been a total game-changer for myself and my family. It’s amazing and it will help you. If you spend more than you should on food every month, this is your fix. Don’t hesitate. Fix it today!
Sign up for Meal Squeeze here!
Let me know how much you love this meal plan!
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