Like meal planning? Yep me neither, but I do like the benefits that come with meal planning such as keeping within a budget.
We keep a fairly tight food budget of under $150 a week for a family of 4 (two adults and two pre-teen boys at the time of writing this). In order to keep our costs low week after week I’ve developed a system which keeps us under budget without too much effort, and today I’m sharing it.
I call it the anti-meal plan because its a plan you only do once (you can do it more if you want to but I don’t), which really appeals to us.
So what is our Anti-Meal Plan? Well its really a bit of a throwback to simpler times with a modern twist. We simply have allocated a certain meal type to each day of the week. The idea around the Anti Meal Plan is that its a 7 Day Meal Plan for the year that is flexible enough to allow you to not be too bored, but allows you to still keep within your budget.
In order to stick to our budget I allocate 60% of our grocery budget to dinners, which works out to be $90 (your budget might be higher or lower than ours so adjust to your needs). Then I split this amount 7 ways. You can do this equally if you wish or you can do what we do which is have a mixture of low cost meals mixed in with higher cost meals. This way you still can enjoy what you love on occasion.
The Anti-Meal Plan
Step One – Allocate an amount for each day of the week dependant on your budget (I use a 60% total food budget rule for dinners).
- Monday – $10 meal day
- Tuesday – $15 meal day
- Wednesday – $10 meal day
- Thursday – $15 meal day
- Friday – $5 meal day
- Saturday – $15 meal day
- Sunday – $20 meal day
Total Budget for Dinners – $90
Step Two – Come up with a flexible meal for each day of the week
I’m sure this will be the hardest step for most people, but my advice to you is to keep it as flexible as possible. This will allow you to still take advantage of reduced to clear items, weekly specials and seasonal produce. Below is a copy of my plan – it might sound boring, but it honestly isn’t as there are so many choices and flavour combos that we can have within each one. For example Saturday is sausage night, but that can mean any meal with sausages in it. There are a million and one different recipes with sausages in it. Our favourites are sausage pizza, hot dogs, sausage casserole, bangers and mash, curried sausages, homemade sausage rolls, and I even make meatloaf from good quality sausage filling on occasion.
Our Anti-Meal Plan for our dinners is as follows;
- Monday – Pasta Night
- Tuesday – Asian Night
- Wednesday – Pasta Night
- Thursday – Fake-away Night
- Friday – Breakfast Dinner or Leftovers Night
- Saturday – Sausage Night
- Sunday – Roast Night
Step Three – Write your meal plan down and place a copy on the fridge / and in your wallet / phone
The more places you write this plan down and see it the more likely you are to stick to it. It’s vital to take your plan with you when you go shopping as this will help you stay within your budget (I carry around a screenshot of it on my phone and the amounts I’ve allocated with me).
The Most Important Step – Please remember that the great thing about the Anti-Meal Plan is that if you are feeling imaginative you can change it. If you are suddenly inspired then throw your anti-meal plan out for the week and change things up a bit.
The Anti-Meal plan is designed to be there as the ultimate back up system to ensure that even when you can’t be bothered meal planning in the traditional sense that you can still keep within your budget.
A copy of my Anti-Meal Plan is located below as well as a blank version that can be printed.
I would love to see and share any versions of your Anti-meal plan on Instagram so please tag me @FrankOnFire_
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