Planner Love

Using My Mormon Mom Planner for Meal Planning

I used to hate planning meals for my family. It’s the one homemaking chore I have repeatedly considered outsourcing. But HelloFresh isn’t cost effective and the McDonald’s Dollar Menu would see us dead before the end of the year. Then I got my meal planning sidekick that changed everything: the Mormon Mom Planner.

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I wanted to find a system that would get meal planning done in a shorter amount of time with meals our family will like for less money than before. Call it my Mission Impossible.

When I got my planner, I didn’t really use it for meal planning. But when my husband and I laid out a very serious and specific savings plan, my planner became home base.

Monthly Matrix Spread

The Mormon Mom Planner has a monthly matrix with four checklist boxes on the side. I write in the planned and executed meals in the matrix spread and keep a food inventory in the checklist boxes.

The Mormon Mom Planner keeps my meal planning simple, quick, and cost effective. Read my meal planning method at #frugalliving How to save money, How to plan meals, Family meal planning.
Monthly matrix view of my Monday-start horizontal 2017 Mormon Mom Planner.

My Meal Planning Method

Let me walk you through how I do my meal planning with the Mormon Mom Planner.

Step 1) Take a food inventory.

Most people know you should be using what you have first. But how can you use it if you don’t know it’s there? That’s why this first step is so crucial. List out the ingredients you already have in your home in your Mormon Mom Planner. Maybe you can’t think of a recipe right then you could use a particular ingredient for – write it down anyway.

The most expensive food you buy is the food you waste. Read how to curb food waste by being a better meal planner at #frugalliving How to save money, How to plan meals, Family meal planning.

My inventory includes the following. I include each space’s inventory in one of the checklist boxes on the monthly matrix spread.

  • Fridge (your most perishable stuff)
  • Freezer (you should keep it stocked for efficiency, but a fully-stocked freezer’s contents can be hard to see and remember to use)
  • Pantry (prioritize your opened packages at the top of your pantry inventory)
  • Basement (we keep our long-term storage here and this monthly exercise gives me an opportunity to take note of items needing to be re-stocked)

Step 2) Plot out any special occasions or planned outings.

In pencil write any special occasions or events that may affect your meal plans in the monthly matrix. Here’s what I typical consider:

  • Fast Sunday
  • Activity Days (or Mutual if I’m facilitating a Personal Progress Night)
  • Dates
  • Parent-child outings
  • Birthdays
  • Holidays
  • Family gatherings
  • Community activities and events

The Mormon Mom Planner keeps all of my events and activities organized with so many flexible layouts. Take a tour of my 2017 planner here.

Step 3) Plan those meals.

Now that you know what you have and what your time is expected to look like for the month, start plugging in meal ideas. The key is to use pencil so you can switch things around later if need be.

{What about circulars (grocery store sale ads) to plan your meals? When do those come in? Confession: I don’t typically shop the store’s sales. I’ve done it in the past and have ended up with meals I don’t want to eat just because a particular ingredient was on sale. I know, I know, I’m pretty much defying all grocery budget tips by not avidly shopping store circulars. But for my family (and my time) it just didn’t work out the best.}

I use Pinterest and our family recipe binder to come up with our meals and plug them in. If there’s an evening event, a quick dinner idea gets put on that date. If it’s a Fast Sunday, one of our classic comfort foods is planned. If I know one week will be busier than another, I’ll plug the meals I already have most if not all of the ingredients for in that week to make that week’s shopping trip a little lighter and quicker. I throw in a Little Caesar’s night at least once a month and Leftover Nights get sprinkled in throughout the month as well.

If I get stuck or just run out of meal planning mojo I ask Adam and Elle to throw out suggestions. And that’s how I usually fill up an entire month’s worth of meals.

Time to Go Food Shopping

I write my shopping list by week and add to the meal ingredients I already have down the “extra” food we need that week. You know, things like bread, milk, eggs, etc… The breakfast and lunch-type of stuff.

{Pro tip: I used to forget ingredients all the time. Now I write down every single ingredient on my food shopping list with the recipe right in front of me. Then I go “shopping” first in my house and check off everything we already have. Then I buy the rest at the grocery store. This might seem tedious and time-consuming, but I don’t want to cry anymore when I’ve unloaded all the groceries and realize I forgot the shrimp or Parmesan cheese or bananas. Again.}

I try to eat a good meal before I go shopping so I don’t end up the proud owner of Aisle 4 even after my careful, budget-friendly preparation. Bring a pen with you to cross things off.

Money-saving Tips

Now, even though I don’t use store sales to determine my meals, I do use several apps to save money.

  • Smith’s app. I download digital coupons for Smith’s (or Kroger if you’re east of the Mississippi) that help save me money at the register. Every Friday they have a freebie download as well for things like yogurt, candy, crackers, and sports drinks.
  • ibotta. I check ibotta every week to see what rebates I can redeem during a shopping trip. (I also use ibotta whenever I buy clothes from Amazon because you get 3% back. Woot!)

I also browse the clearance areas of all the departments. I’ve gotten country-style ribs to feed my family of 3.5 for $3. There was nothing wrong with the ribs – their “sell by date” was still a day or two away. I made this recipe with them and felt like a valiant warrior that I had delivered such a satisfying meal for such a low cost. Don’t be too proud to dig through the clearance bins. You never know what money-saving treasures you might find.

Thinking the Mormon Mom Planner Is Right for You?

I love my planner and have already pre-ordered my 2018 planner (my 3rd planner so far!). My Mormon Mom Planner keeps me focused on the important stuff like continuously building my relationship with my Heavenly Father, my spouse, and my children. It helps keep me on track for errands, activities, and church assignments. Meal planning with the Mormon Mom Planner has saved our family a lot of money by giving me one place to organize what we have, plan what meals our family actually likes, and store ideas for later use.

Why I Love My Mormon Mom Planner: A 15-Picture Tour

You can get the Mormon Mom Planner by shopping at However, I would sincerely appreciate it if you used one of the affiliate links within this post to purchase your planner. This way, I get a small commission and you get a beautiful, functional LDS planner at no additional cost to you. Win, win!

Check out the Mormon Mom Planner with the MiddayMornings affiliate link here.

Either way, please do yourself and your family a favor by checking out the Mormon Mom Planner. It has really changed the way I see and do meal planning. It’s saved us money since we don’t eat out as often and we don’t waste as much food.

How do you plan your meals?

The Mormon Mom Planner keeps my meal planning simple, quick, and cost effective. Read my meal planning method at #frugalliving How to save money, How to plan meals, Family meal planning.

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