How Meal Planning on a Weeknight Changed My Life

Meal Planning.  If you want to have some assurance that you will successfully fight off the temptation monster and feed your family healthy meals all week long, meal planning is a necessary evil.

I have spent years trying to figure out the exact right formula for meal planning in a way that saves time, money, and energy. I've used a variety of menu planning documents. I've shopped at a plethora of stores. I've used physical coupons, couponing websites, coupon apps -- you name it, I've tried it to save myself some cash.

But here's the deal. No matter what you do, you are paying for it in some way. If you use 300 coupons and get everything for 12 cents, you lose out on healthy foods and are buying nothing but deodorants that are full of metals, Spaghetti-Os, and laundry detergent.  And if you shop organic, you are paying out the wazoo for foods that are grown responsibly and paying for the transportation of those good foods. And if you shop LOCALLY, you are spending money on the gas that it takes to go to a million different places to get different things.  It's exhausting, no matter what.

Not to mention that it eats into so much valuable time on your weekends! I used to DREAD Sundays, because I knew that I would be spending a good hour sitting at my kitchen table, sorting through recipes, trying to find deals, deciding which food stores to go to, and then another 2 hours spent away from my family in the grocery store.  I'm not saying that I didn't appreciate the quiet alone time in the grocery store, but there are definitely other things that I would rather be doing, especially during the winter when it's raining and snowing outside!

This week, it dawned on me. What the EFF am I doing??! There are so many options out there for shopping, and I'm not even taking advantage of them!!! So I thought about where I shop the most, and what I shop for the most.  Turns out, I was going to Stop and Shop for stuff that my hubby likes (such as Cheerios, deli meats, and potato breads), and I  was hitting up Trader Joe's for organic fruits and veggies, organic meats and cheeses, and snack foods for my daughters.

I can get all of these things from my subscription services. Namely, Amazon FreshDoor-to-Door Organics, and Thrive Market.  And for a portion of the cost!

On Amazon Fresh, you get free delivery when your order reaches $40.  They have an assortment of organics, same day delivery options, and, my favorite, you can reserve a doorstep delivery time for before 7:00 a.m.  So when I woke up yesterday, all of my food was sitting on my doorstep already in reusable totes (which they collect if you leave them out during your next delivery).

With D2D Organics, you get fresh organic fruits and veggies, meats, cheeses, and so much more, for a low delivery cost of $5.  If your order hits $75, you then get free delivery. They also drop off your goods on your doorstep, in boxes that they collect every time they deliver. My favorite part about this service is that it's a weekly delivery, so they come each week with a new box of goodies, which you can customize and add recurring items to.  As long as you check in before 10:00 p.m. the night before your scheduled delivery, you can make changes and add as much as you need.

Thrive Market is a yearly subscription (around $60/year). From this service, I order goods such as shampoos and conditioners, face wash, sponges, and oils.  They also carry an assortment of snack foods and goodies for littles.  And for every person who signs up, a membership is donated to a low-income family. It's an amazing community-driven company.

Now, how did this change my weekend?  Well, Wednesday night, after my kids went to bed, I spent 1 hour standing at my kitchen counter. I planned everything out for next week, and then got onto Amazon Fresh and D2D.  Since my D2D is delivered on Thursdays, I split my shopping list into 2 parts - the first half of the week, and the second.  And then I got to work ordering everything I needed and updating my accounts. On Thursday, my fruits, veggies, and meats were delivered to my doorstep, and on Saturday morning I brought in my snacks and different requests from my hubby. And when I shop at the stores on the weekends, I always end up grabbing things I don't need, and my grocery budget quickly balloons to upwards of $250/week.  This week, I spent $175 on groceries.  And had food for the weekend (my husband always ends up eating dry cereal on Saturday and Sunday morning because we are out of everything by Friday when I shop on Sundays).

Yesterday, I spent the morning sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and a book.  This morning, I made a batch of cupcakes that I've been wanting to make for over a month, and now I'm sitting down writing this blog post.  We had tons of food in the house all weekend long to keep everyone satiated.  My plan for the morning is to run to Stop and Shop to grab my husband's deli meats for his lunches this week, and then to do some shopping for my updated bathroom.  These are things I would NOT have been able to do if it hadn't been for the fact that I spent some time that I would have otherwise spent watching TV on the couch Wednesday night planning my menu for the following week.

Do you have any tips or tricks to help free up some time on the weekends? I'd love to hear them!

Alright, I'm going to go feed the birds.  Happy Sunday!