Need HELP with Meal Planning

Before I talk about how BAD I am at meal planning, I want to say that I have ONLY one cabinet for food. I have an inventory for that cabinet, since it is well-packed, and I don’t want to lose track of the food.  The cabinet over the stove is for spices, oils, baking supplies and desserts. It helps to keep from over-buying foods, but because we are in a small apt (950 sq feet) we have limited space. Which means our fridge/freezer is old and small, but still does its job. So NO freeze ahead meals.

food cabinet, you will sort of notice wine glasses on top of the cabinet. They have been moved the shelves in the basement.

spices over stove

Hubby wants to put a small freezer in the basement, but I REFUSE to have any food items anywhere in the basement. It is dirty, smelly, moldy and unsafe for humans. Can you tell I hate the basement?

So with only a cabinet and a half for foods and a small fridge I have a hard time with meal planning. This is one area I can NOT get organized in.

Now, let me show you the other cabinets in our kitchen and how little space we actually have.

cabinet for plates, glasses, mugs, tea, and sugar

narrow cabinet for bags, garbage bags, and dog food

A few weeks ago I posted about keeping reusable towels on the kitchen shelf. I have moved them under the sink on a lift, I now use the shelf to store Dinosaur’s paintbrushes, let items dry and holiday items.

Another change I made was putting snacks above the cabinets. We don’t eat them all the time and I need more counter space.

Cabinet facing the living area for our Tupperware. Dinosaur is ALWAYS emptying out the cabinet, so it’s never organized

Now this brings me to my main point…

I STINK at meal planning.

I need to better portion hubby’s food and often forget about breakfasts and lunches.

Hubby will eat all the cold cuts in three days and leave us with nothing OR not eat any cold cuts and waste money

How do you meal plan on a TIGHT budget? 

Now that being said…I NEED HELP.

How do you all plan your weekly menus that include breakfast, lunches, dinner and snacks? How can I do that and make sure I don’t run out of almond milk, bread, eggs, and so on…?

I’ve seen sites out there, but what are YOUR favorite resources? What do you use that helps you plan meals? Like I said… I NEED HELP!

21 responses to “Need HELP with Meal Planning

  1. I try not to ask my husband what he wants for lunch or breakfast. I just make it and he has to eat it that way I can portion the food I bought without waste or running out. With dinner, I try to keep it simple with lean meats and veggies with the occasional pasta or rice. My pressure cooker takes up some valuable real estate in the cabinet, but for me, it cooks so fast that it is totally worth it.

    You are so organized, I’m sure you’ll think of something! 😉

  2. I have no idea what to tell you. I am waiting on responses to see if I can get help. Only time I have to cook dinner is on the weekends. Maybe I can start freezing meals. that way through the week, I can just pop it in the oven. I don’t get home till 7.

    • I got some good comments babe, and then put something together on my own. I’ll post about it in two weeks.

      I loved freezing big and small meals in my old condo. It made it easy to have healthy dinners fast. .

  3. When I decided to start planning the meals I added a lot of crock pot or slow cooking stuff, raw ingredients give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to storage space and variety of meals. Breakfast is honestly often something like biscuits, fresh fruit, oatmeal, easy things like that… lunches are leftovers unless we’re doing something special, and dinners are usually overboard.

    I generally prepare two meals, the raw vegan shake for me and the ‘whatever the kids will eat’ for them.

  4. Breakfast is basic. We rotate between oatmeal, cold cereal, plain yogurt with fruit and granola, and breakfast tacos. I buy the big container of yogurt and portion it. I make the granola from the oatmeal.

    Lunch is a rotation of leftovers, pb&j, cheese / crackers / fruit, tuna or egg salad, and soup. I don’t buy lunch meat. I’ve added in some quinoa salads recently and love it.

    Snacks are whole fruits (whatever is on sale), popcorn (bought in bulk, not the convenient kind), granola bars (I’m trying to make my own), yogurt, or leftovers.

    That leaves dinner. Find a local blogger that is doing the sale price to meal plan match up. There’s almost always someone. She will have done the hard work to find the best prices of the week and figured out how to use those fruits/veggies/meats to make dinner. Modify that plan based on your family’s needs.

    Having lived 5 months in an RV, I totally get the lack of storage space. For me, that meant going to the store several times a week. It also meant I paired down to the minimum equipment. I also stored stuff in weird places. In good weather, the trunk of my car semed a logical place to store canned goods. I’m not kidding.

  5. I struggle with this too but I’m getting a little better at it. I’m finding that if I plan a good dinner, then we’ll all have lunch the next day or two. To that end, I’ve started making more Crockpot stuff. I try to aim for things like pulled pork or roast, tht I know we can eat off of for a while.

    • I miss making a big chicken in the slow cooker, but don’t have freezer room for the broth and left over chicken. I have to see what I an do about that

      Love pulled pork

  6. It doesn’t matter how much cabinet space you have, you always want more. But I do remember when we had an apartment that size. It can get tight.

    We tend to eat the same types of meals and work from a list. When something is done or almost done we simply write it down. The list is always in the same spot and always with a pen. Even our boys write it down and know what side to write it on (left is foods / right is other). If someone wants to do something new they simply write down the ingredients we don’t have. If we can afford the new items we get them. If we can’t they stay on the list.

    Stopping by from SITS Saturday Sharefest 🙂

    • thanks babe, it’s difficult but somehow we will figure it out. that’s a great idea on teh this, I will keep that idea for when son gets older.

  7. Oh mama I have no idea! I am just as bad at (maybe worse lol) as you! I will be following the comments of this post right along with you 😉

    Happy Saturday Sharefest!

  8. I only meal plan for dinners (yup, confession!). Breakfast is cereal/ toast, so I make sure we always have a ready supply of those. My husband works from home half the week, so I do prepare him lunch (only sometimes), and usually I make him an egg and cheese sandwich. So yes, bread, cheese and eggs. Our staples, which we buy weekly from the store: cheese, eggs, milk, meat (chicken, beef), pasta sauces (yeah I cheat), and fresh veg depending on what I’m cooking. Stuff we buy in bulk (like every 2-3 weeks we stock up) are: frozen veg like peas/ carrots, which are in big packs, rice, pasta, juice.

    Basically, my menu repertoire isn’t huge! Good luck I hope you find a good organizing tool!

  9. Hi Karen, I hopped over here from who knows where (the internet-vortex!!) and I saw this question. I did some meal planning a few months ago that we have been really pleased with at our house. My husband and I both work full time and the kids are gone to school all day,so I only plan dinners, but here’s my post about what worked for us (**HINT: It’s reusable!):

  10. Pingback: My Meal Plan | Dinosaur Superhero Mommy·

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