Whether you've been preparing meals for your family for years, or you are just starting out in a place on your own, one of the best ways to save money and sanity in the kitchen is to plan your meals.  Meal planning is an important skill for the organized budget-conscious domestic submissive because not only does it provide healthy meals for your partner, but it will save you money and food waste if you plan correctly.

What do I mean by a meal plan, you may ask?

A meal plan can be two different things.  The first is a plan of the meals that your grocery shopping trip will cover. You would make this list each time you are preparing to go shopping for the foods you'll need for the week/month. The second is the  list of common meals you prepare on a regular basis. Often these meal lists will have a common focus, like frugal, or pantry staples or clean out the freezer, favorite meals, or even holiday favorites. I'll make sure to cover both of these in this article.

Why should you have a meal plan?

Meal plans save money, use ingredients from your pantry and fridge to reduce waste and to minimize left overs. They also help alleviate the 5pm stress of "what's for dinner?" It a simple way to be organized and definitely helps reduce your grocery budget because you won't buy things you don't need. You'll also make less impulse trips to the store because you forgot one item or you didn't know what you were going to have so you wandered the aisles and picked up whatever looked good (and everything looks good when you are hungry).

How to make a pre-shopping meal plan

When I get ready to go shopping, I go through my freezer and pantry to make note of what I already have. I write down all the meats I have and the left overs that need to be used up. Then using that as my foundation I create meals adding a few things here and there that I'll need from the store. I like to make new recipes but I don't plan more than one new recipe in a week and only if I'm struggling to come up with meal ideas. Otherwise I use my common meals list to fill out the meals for the week.

Make sure you are planning more than dinners. All meals you will be preparing need to have the supplies on hand. If you eat breakfast at home, brown-bag your lunch and any snacks you like to have around make sure you put those on your meal plan. KnyghtMare and I eat different lunches so I have two lunches listed for each day. I'm more likely to eat left overs for lunch than KnyghtMare is and he's got specific things he prefers to they are always on hand. Remember - a meal plan is not your grocery list, so you don't need to itemize out the things you need to purchase. Just plan out the meals on this one and write your grocery list based on it.

How to make a common meals list

A common meals list is another way to have a meal plan. You will have all of the meals you like to make in a list so that when you plan your grocery trip you can make sure you have supplies on hand for the meals you make often. For example, KnyghtMare and I have some form of grilled chicken every week so I make sure there are marinades and chicken on hand every week. Breakfast for dinner is common, also called Brinner, so I like to have some breakfast meat, eggs and pancake mix available. Here's a glimpse of my list:

  1. Chicken Kebabs
  2. Roast Chicken
  3. Jambalaya
  4. Hamburgers
  5. Smoked Sausage and Rice
  6. Chicken Grillers
  7. Breakfast for Dinner (B4D)
  8. Homemade Pizza
  9. Turkey Roast
  10. Italian Wedding Soup
  11. Spaghetti
  12. Pork Chops
  13. Chicken Curry
  14. Ham Steak
  15. Steak
  16. Steak Kebabs
  17. Meatball Subs
  18. Spaghetti and Meatballs
  19. Chicken Flautas
  20. Tacos
  21. Pulled Pork
  22. Beef Pot Roast
  23. Meatloaf
  24. Minute Steaks
  25. Ropa Vieja
  26. Chicken Parmesean
  27. Airman Anderson's Chicken
  28. Pork Tenderloin
  29. Beef Stew
  30. Bratwurst
  31. Ham and Potato Soup
  32. Zuppa Toscana
  33. Greek Chicken in Pitas
  34. Chicken Rice Soup

Now I never have items on hand to make all of these things, but they sure help with making my weekly meal plan to create variety and use the things I have on hand.


Pull all your cook books and recipes out and make a common meals list. You can sort things according to main component if you'd like. Just having this list will help you organize your cooking and relieve stress at dinner time. Add your common meals list to your Home Management Journal.