Easy Budget Meal Planning

Like many of our other habits, our meal-planning started on the boat. When we’re cruising, we have limited space for packaging and leftovers, but also limited access to grocery stores. Mainly, we encounter “camp store” type establishments, which are quite overpriced. So, I plan for a month at a time. We really have no idea when we will be home and when we will be away (most likely camping) for the rest of August. Because of that, my meal plan goes from Monday the 8th until Saturday the 28th (the day before I have to go back to work). Here’s how I do it:

1. Decide on a breakfast food. The first time we were cruising, it was bagels with cream cheese. This time we are trying to go more low-carb, so it’s boiled eggs. I will boil a dozen at a time.

2. I divide the number of days I’m planning for by 3. That is how many days each lunch choice needs to cover. The first time we went out, we had sandwiches, then veggie wraps, then PBJ’s. This time, it’s yogurt, cottage cheese with tomatoes, and veggies and hummus. At home, I would rotate between the 3 choices. On the boat, we do one choice for the set number of days, then the next choice, then the next. It’s easier this way, with limited space.

3. I plan the same dinners each week, except for the days when we’re visiting other people. Last time, we had pasta, english muffin pizzas, hot dogs (not the healthiest choice, but it is summer!), burgers, tostadas, burritos, and wraps. This time, we’re having burgers (no buns), hot dogs, stir fry, ham roll-ups and cheese, hobo dinners (burger patties with veggies and seasonings, wrapped in foil), bean dip, and chicken.

4. Make a list, and estimate the cost of everything. If something ends up costing less than estimated, it can go toward something that costs more. I usually come very close to my estimate this way. Here’s this trip’s list:

Eggs–5 doz. $7.50

Yogurt–2 large containers $6

Cottage Cheese–4 lbs. $6

Tomatoes–3 cans $1.50

Raw veggies (for 7 days) $4

Chickpeas (for stir fry and hummus)–5 cans $5

Burger Patties–6 lb. $12

Hot dogs–2 packs $2

Stir fry veggies–4 packages $7

Ham–3 packages $9

Cheese–1 1/2 lb $6

Carrots–3 pkg. $6

Veggies for dipping $4

Aluminum Foil $1

Sour Cream–3 tubs $3

Chicken $3

Coffee–2 bags $7

So that is $100 for 3 weeks. Not the best I’ve ever done, but it is harder to stay frugal and be low-carb. Of course, we will also pick up a little bit of wine to enjoy in the evenings!

5. Shop at different stores. Every town has some cheap groceries. Save a Lot, Aldi, and Kroger are good places to start. Then search for discount food stores. Meijer and Wal Mart are good for certain things too, but not as much.

So, there you go. Healthy, cheap, and easy meals!

MOONRAKER UPDATE: We got a call from the insurance adjuster today, with an update (nothing we didn’t know, at this point). He said he will call Alpena again on the 16th, and that he intends to keep in touch with them until the repair is completed. I think this is awesome, and kind of funny. It will make procrastination the less convenient option!

One thought on “Easy Budget Meal Planning

  1. Pingback: Sunday Supper: Buddha Bowls | Journey to Ithaca

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