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Side Hustle Series: I Write Meal Plans

by J. Money on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

life list
(Today’s post is by Andi Blackwell, as part of our Side Hustle Series. If you’ve got a hustle that’s going well (or even sucking?) we wanna hear about it)

Last year, my college student cousin asked for my assistance in creating her budget, mainly because I’m the neurotic number-cruncher in our family. After we talked for a bit, we quickly identified that food was a large area where she could save money, as she lived off-campus…in Hawaii. I can’t possibly describe how much I wished to help her in person.

I asked her what sort of stores she had access to, and if she got sales fliers. “The key is to pull out the sales fliers, and make a meal plan and shopping list each week based on what’s on sale,” I said.

“Ummm, a meal plan?”

I realized that no one taught me how to create a meal plan, and no one had taught her. My weekly process has evolved through tribulation, failure, and desperation. The most dreaded words in my house used to be: “What’s for dinner?” immediately followed by my patented “deer in the headlights” look.

Finally I learned and each week I’d look through the sales fliers, look through my pantry, see what’s in season, and put together a meal plan for the week with a shopping list. I realized that people like my cousin (a busy student and entrepreneur) didn’t have the time for, or didn’t prioritize something like meal planning in their routine. I looked for a service that would provide healthy meal plans for her, but it seemed there was no middle ground between vegetarianism and plastic cheese.

The Business

For a while I’d been looking for a business that was based on product and not time. I’ve had side hustles in the past, but they were reliant on me to be there, and last time I checked, hours are still rationed to 24 each day, a very limited resource.

I began to wonder if people might pay for the time I already put into planning good meals for my family. Since I knew there were successful weekly meal plan services in existence, I probably didn’t test the idea as much as I should have; I reviewed their sites, blogs, and social networking pages for complaints. My dad always told me it’s easier to make a product better, than to reinvent the wheel. Eventually I decided on seasonal meal plans; buying seasonal is healthier and generally less expensive because the produce is in abundance. So people save money regardless of where they shop, and eat healthier.

Once I did talk with people I knew fit the demographic, I asked them if this was a service they would use, and if they would be willing to pay $5-8 each month for the convenience. The answer was a resounding “Yes!” Whether people were looking to save time or money, they wanted something easy, complete, and delivered on time.

The Design

I partnered with one of my favorite people to create a website and help me with meal plans. While I like the way my family eats, I know it’s not the only way. Al brings vegetarian cooking, marketing experience, and a healthy dose of cynicism to the table. Luckily, we think on the same page and our partnership has been smooth. Not everyone can count on that. Al and I created an LLC, designed our brand and built our website. We were on a very tight budget, and had to be creative with the website and the meal plan delivery. Every time we thought we had figured out what we needed and how it was going to work, a new problem or complication would flip us the bird. Plug-in “A” thinks plug-in “B” is a pansy and refuses to play in the same yard. We spent a few bucks and every weekend for three months tuning what we wanted to present, and we launched this last month.

The Result

Within an hour of launch we had our first subscriber to a premium seasonal meal plan. (And no, it wasn’t my mother….or Al’s.) That first subscriber gave us the courage we needed to let this fly. Both very pessimistic by nature, I think Al and I had to overcome ourselves more than anything. Now, I get a little happier when I do meal plans each week, knowing that it’s not just for me. People are using my hard work to save money and eat healthier, which I think is just about as sexy as budgets.

*Special Giveaway*

We’d like to give one lucky Budgets Are Sexy reader a free 3-month subscription to our meal plans!  All you have to do if you’re interested is answer this simple question and you’ll be entered to win:   Do you know what you’re eating tomorrow?  If yes, what?  If no, why not?

I (Andi) will personally email back the winner in 3 days, and get you started on the free meal plans :) Thanks for reading everyone!

——————
Guest post by Andi Blackwell who spends her free time with her husband and dog and her hustlin’ time at MealPlanRescue.com. If YOU’ve got a side hustle you’d like to share with us, give us a shout

(Food faces by Colin Kloecker)


{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

1 J. Money March 9, 2011 at 5:39 am

***HEY GUYS! Sorry about the comment “white-out” that happens once you post…. not sure what’s up with it, but we’re looking into. Don’t worry though, as you can see your comments are getting published!!***

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2 Ashley March 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

Yes…cafeteria food for the evening meal, stir-fry for the midnight meal.

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3 Juana March 9, 2011 at 6:51 am

No… Aside from being a notoriously horrible planner, my schedule is unpredictable. But, I just gave up lunching out of the office for Lent..so I’d better figure something out soon!

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4 Cate March 9, 2011 at 7:15 am

I just made a turkey sandwich and oatmeal is in the microwave so that covers lunch and breakfast. Dinner is dependent on how frozen the chicken I forgot to take out of the freezer still is…

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5 Jenny March 9, 2011 at 7:49 am

I love your business concept!

I travel quite often for work, so its hard to plan. Tomorrow night I have a dinner meeting out, so probably something unhealthy and delicious!

I already scope out ads each week I’m home but I’d be willing to pay for that service to save an hour/week! That’s well worth 5 bucks!

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6 Renars March 9, 2011 at 8:01 am

Yes, but not exactly :) I eat dinner at work at cafeteria where they every day have complex offer consisting of soup, rice + some meat and drink. Although, of course, I don’t know exactly what kind of soup or meat/fish I will get.

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7 Mary March 9, 2011 at 8:14 am

breakfast – smoothie
lunch – leftover soup
dinner – salad

I try to put together meal plans, but I am frankly a terrible cook. I’m glad you include the instructions too!

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8 Amber March 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

Nope. I have some leftovers, but I can’t remember how old they are….should probably throw them out! :-)

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9 Maggie March 9, 2011 at 8:31 am

I do! I’m going to bake up some muffins tonight for breakfast tomorrow, I have leftovers for lunch, and I’m going over to dinner at a friend’s house. (Though usually I’m not organized that far in advance)

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10 Crystal March 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

That’s pretty awesome Andi! Thanks for the guest post.

I have a meal board at work and my officemate and I (sometimes) post what we are going to have for lunch and dinner mon-friday. We got the idea from one of her friends.

Tomorrow I will have a smoothie for bkfast, a salad for lunch and leftover pasta for dinner!

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11 Jeannine March 9, 2011 at 9:23 am

YUP,
I will will be having cheese grits and eggs for breakfast (because tha’s what I have been craving for a couple days now)
Curry mango and chickpeas over brown rice for lunch (because I made enough Monday night to have leftovers for lunch for a few days)
and Korean BBQ for dinner (because my fiance and I are going to the movies and I want to pick up food from this place for dinner)
Everyday does not work out this well, and I keep a few lean cuisines and trader joe’s vegetarian burritos in the freezer for emergencies.

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12 Trina March 9, 2011 at 9:42 am

I know that I will be having meatloaf tomorrow night for dinner… but only because I’m making it tonight and know there will be leftovers.

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13 Amy March 9, 2011 at 9:50 am

Not exactly, I have the stuff to make a couple of things. But hopefully I won’t get lazy and go out!

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14 Philip March 9, 2011 at 9:56 am

Tomorrow, will wake up and have my same milk and cereal. Lunch will likely be healthy choice steamer and some bread, snack of banana.

Dinner… um… no clue, I think we are actually going to pick up some asian food to go and watch a movie.

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15 Ruby March 9, 2011 at 9:57 am

This is utterly brilliant! I am horrible at meal planning. I use public transportation and share an apartment with two other roomies, not to mention a tight budget. I find that I use everything in my pantry until there is nothing useable for a cohesive meal and run to the store, buy too many groceries to make up the difference, which warrants a cab ride home or a very strained walk home…

I totally need help planning my meals- since food has become an inconvenience and not a joy. I have come to hate cooking since it takes so much effort to think ahead and be prepared for cooking or have things on hand.

I am eating corned beef and cabbage which was the only meal I’ve planned this week…oh, and cereal :( …and my “plan” was to cook a large batch so that I can eat it for the next few days… Ya, I need help.

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16 Beth March 9, 2011 at 10:05 am

No, I’m going to the grocery store today and while I have a list, they are often out of at least one or two sale items. So I will decide based on what I can actually pick up.

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17 retirebyforty March 9, 2011 at 10:10 am

eating half bagel and coffee right now.
10 am the other half of the bagel
noon – small serving left over curry & rice
3pm – left over enchilada
dinner – probably stir fry snow peas & tofu on rice.

I’m way too cheap to pay for a meal planner, but it sounds like you will have great success.

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18 JBird_1205 March 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

No, I have no idea what I’ll be eating tomorrow because I never plan my meals. It’s so time consuming and with all of the other things that nibble away at my time (like my own side hustles and social life), I just don’t dedicate any of it to meal planning.

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19 Jon the Saver March 9, 2011 at 10:34 am

Wow, what a sweet side hustle! Seems like a great way to go for a lot of people out there. unfortunately, I’m in the “too cheap to do that” category haha. About to start munching on some cashews!

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20 KS March 9, 2011 at 10:34 am

Because I work 4 – 5 nights a week at my second job, it makes it pretty easy to plan only 2 or 3 meals for me and The Man. But it gets tricky when we both get really busy at work and don’t have time to look up recipes and coordinate who is picking up what from the grocery store OR when we both have Saturday and Sunday off and end up defaulting to eating out for every meal because we don’t have anything planned – so this is a great gvieaway!

Tomorrow will look something like this:
Breakfast: (me) light yogurt and granola bar and coffee; (The Man) coffee

Lunch: (me) leftovers from spaghetti dinner tonight; (The Man) who knows.

Snack: (me) what candy I can scrounge up from coworkers’ cubicle candy dishes; (The Man) coffee, probably

Happy Hour (yes, we have nightly happy hours at our place when me and The Man get off of work and want to chill out for a bit): (both me and The Man) either margaritas or Sam Adam’s Boston and/or New Castle Brown Ale, and salsa roll-ups with guac and queso

Dinner: Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican rice

-K

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21 Michael March 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

No idea. We just buy they same thing every time we get groceries. Need a reason to buy something different, a meal plan sure would help

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22 HedgeHoncho March 9, 2011 at 10:51 am

tomorrow i am eating the same thing i eat everyday…

eggs, chicken, green beans, steak, sweet potatoe, protein shakes, bcaa’s, other supplements, repeat.

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23 Helen March 9, 2011 at 10:59 am

Not really. Not specifically, at least. We tend to buy things at the beginning of the week (basics- veggies, pasta, eggs, meat) and then throw things together.

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24 Allison March 9, 2011 at 10:59 am

Yep.
Breakfast: Yogurt and granola
Lunch: Spaghetti and sauce from my Grammy Carmella’s recipe
Dinner: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes

P.S. Your side hustle rocks!

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25 Mercedes March 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

Dinner tomorrow is either left overs, a bowl of cereal, or some corned beef if I remember to get the crock pot ready in the morning. Pretty much it’s whatever I can pull out of the fridge and cook!

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26 Erin March 9, 2011 at 11:28 am

Everything bagel for breakfast.
Chicken and garlic cheddar mashed potatoes for lunch.
Chicken and spicy rice for dinner.

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27 Courtney March 9, 2011 at 11:35 am

No idea what I’ll be eating tomorrow since I haven’t been to the grocery store in forever and I’m left scrounging for canned soup in the pantry. I feel like grocery shopping for me is a darned if you do, darned if you don’t scenario — the days afterward, I’m overwhelmed by all the great choices and tend to eat ridiculous combinations because I’m excited by the new options. Then as the choices dwindle, I also make poor food choices based on limited options, but I’m too lazy/tired to get back to the store.

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28 Chris March 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

No, I’m on bed rest right now and am relying on others to cook my meals.

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29 Andi B. March 9, 2011 at 12:09 pm

@Ashley: I had those days when I used to work swing shift, and a stir fry is always a great idea. I just sent out a Shrimp Stir Fry in the last healthy options plan that is one of our go-tos.
@Juana: Leftovers for the win? I live in Portland with some of the best food carts in the country so it’s really hard not to eat out when I’m at the office. I hope your Lent goes well.
@Cate:I totally get you on the chicken. I’ve been trying to remember to defrost a whole chicken for almost a week now. The chicken is winning.
@Jenny: Thank you! We all have to make a little room for unhealthy and delicious sometimes. If you try the plan and you know you’ll be eating out one day, you choose one meal to cross off the list and just cross off all the shopping list items with the same number. It’s pretty no fuss no muss.
@Renars: At least they mix it up a little bit…although that surprise sounds like it could be a little scary.
@Mary: Absolutely, complete recipes and shopping list. I’ve seen meal plans where it just has what they’re eating before and it didn’t help me one bit! :) We tried to make this as efficient as possible.
@Amber: When I can’t remember my husband starts shouting “Step away from the leftovers!”

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30 Matt March 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm

No, we usually just buy a lot of chicken and ground beef and put it in the freezer and come up with something. So probably chicken and something….

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31 Julie F March 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Stay-at-home husband plans our family’s meals. I’ve taught him to be an amazing bargain shopper — he trolls the grocery aisles regularly looking for bargains and meals are based on the finds. Clearance meat sounds scary but woo-buddy we’ve had some awesome steaks for pennies because they were marked down for quick sale at the grocery. I don’t know exactly what we’re having each night, but he does. We typically save leftovers for one night of serve-yourself sometime late in the week (that is, when our teenage son doesn’t get to them first). I’d love to take some of the pressure off of my husband with a meal plan. It would make a great b’day gift to him in May.

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32 Christine March 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I scan those weekly ads to see what’s on sale too! I try to plan my meals round stuff on sale but usually my bf and I talk about it and we get the week’s worth of meals together.

Tomorrow:
Breakfast: 2 slices of Cinnamon Raisin Toast, pineapple
Lunch: Pancakes
Dinner: Gorditas and broccolini

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33 Amy March 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Not Really…I have a general idea of what I could put together using what we have but I’d LOVE to have it all laid out for me.

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34 Becky Cromwell March 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I DO know what I’m eating tonight and tomorrow night. On Sundays, I generally shop the stores with planned recipes in mind, and then spend the afternoon catching up on the DVR while making my meals for the week. Then I don’t have to make any meals after work during the week. Since my husband and I have a 55 mile commute each way, this makes it much nicer!

Tonight – Shepard’s Pie
Thursday – Pasta and Meat Sauce
Friday – either leftovers or pizza

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35 Josh L March 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I will be eating oatmeal for lunch, and then going to a client dinner. I usually stock my freezer with meat and veggies and then make a big meal one night that will serve as lunches and dinners for the week. It’s helpful, healthy, and convenient!

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36 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm

@Maggie: Dinner at a friend’s house is my favorite dinner!
@Crystal: That’s a great idea…coordinating with friends is an excellent way to keep on track.
@Jeannine: Just had Korean BBQ for the first time the other day. I also keep a few premade fallbacks in the freezer so emergencies I’m prepared for don’t become crises.Have fun at the movie. :)
@Trina: Planning your leftovers in advance is a very efficient way to cook. Sometimes I throw a couple extra chicken breasts in the oven “tonight” just so I don’t have to cook them “tomorrow.”
@Amy: Going out is still my nemesis, and I do this for a side hustle.
@Phillip: Asian food and a movie seems to be popular today.
@Ruby: Noooo. Food should be fun. With your transportation situation you could even divide the list in half. It’s an extra trip to the grocery store, but no taxi rides or strained walks. I hope food becomes more fun soon!

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37 LB March 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Probably cereal or eggs for breakfast, depending on how much time I have, and leftovers for lunch and dinner. This is my busy week, so I will be eating whatever my husband can come up with, and leftovers.

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38 Rachel March 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Once soccer practice is over, we’ll probably have breakfast for dinner. Brinner. My kids love it and it’s quick enough for me to actually cook.

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39 Financial Uproar March 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I would never pay for a meal plan. But what a cool idea. Keep on keepin’ on Andi.

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40 AprilFire March 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm

“Do you know what you’re eating tomorrow? If yes, what? If no, why not?”

I don’t even know what’s for dinner TONIGHT, let alone tomorrow night. Why? Because I have no money. Why? Because my rent cheque bounced and i had to pay an outrageous NSF fee. Why? Because my roommate didn’t get paid and couldn’t pass on his share of the rent. Even he doesn’t know whats for dinner!

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41 christina h. March 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm

oo, oo, pick me! I meal plan and it rocks my world, something I never, ever, EVER thought I’d say. But I would love to have seasonal meal plans–that’s not something I’ve really been able to figure out yet.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with apricots, craisins and sunflower seeds, banana, hard boiled egg
9:30am snack: cheese slices & orange
Lunch: Cottage cheese, pineapple, carrot sticks, wasa crackers with raspberry jam
3:30pm snack: Blueberry salad smoothie (yep, there’s a whole bowl of salad greens in every cup, and we don’t even taste it!), pretzels
Dinner: Clean out the fridge night, to recover from houseguests and an over-abundance of food this past week.

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42 Sassy March 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Yes I know what we are eating tomorrow for dinner. Leftover homemade white chili :) mmmmmmm

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43 Miss Delish March 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Tomorrow is one of the lucky days where I do know what I am eating for most of it.
I will be having leftover pizza for breakfast and lunch, and probably will dine out for dinner.
It is horribly unhealthy, but it works.

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44 Lisa March 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I am fairly sure I know what I’ll be eating tomorrow. Pasta, spagehetti sauce, and cheese…easy, although not the most healthy.

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45 eric March 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I dont have a clue! It wont be fast food but probably scrambled eggs again.

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46 Ally March 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I like to think I make a meal plan – usually in my head on Mondays at work. And then by Friday I end up making maybe 2 things that I intended to.

I make a grocery list; but forget stuff and get stuff I know I don’t know. I use coupons, and bargain shop. But with a 2 1/2 year old; it can be tricky. I also feel like we eat the same stuff ALL the time.

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47 Sandy @ yesiamcheap March 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

If this matched up with coupons as well, life would be perfect.

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48 C Ann March 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm

This is quite possibly one the greatest ideas ever!

And I have absolutely no clue what I’m eating tomorrow, and that is quite typical for me. Oddly enough, I love consistency, yet I never plan my meals. I work in marketing/fundraising for a nonprofit so Im always on the go. For breakfast, I usually grab the first thing I see. If its not expired and edible on the go it works me. For lunch, I usually hope there’s a board meeting or executive meeting with food leftover. For dinner, its whatever i put together from the fridge. Sad life, I know.

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49 Meg March 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I am currently eating out of my pantry to avoid going to the grocery store for a few more days! When it starts to look a little bare, I make a list of what I have available for each meal so that I don’t scream, “there’s no food in this house” and go out. So, pulling from the list, tomorrow will probably be: oatmeal for breakfast, tortilla with peanut butter and honey for lunch and pasta for dinner. Nutrition kinda goes to crap when I’m trying to save money!

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50 April March 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I have no idea what is for dinner tonight let alone tomorrow. We do use our sales fliers to shop but with no real plan. Although we DO always eat at home because of the budget…everything is usually thrown together at the last minute.

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51 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm

@Beth: I definitely end up with a few rainchecks myself when I’m at the store. The really good sales items go quickly at our local market.
@Retireby40: I wish I could eat smaller meals. It’s okay to be too cheap to pay for something you’d rather do yourself. We’ve intentionally kept the price low enough that people can make it up in savings, but you sound like you’ve got your food handled. Do you have extra snow peas for a hustler?
@JBird_1205: You sound like my cousin. Between opening a retail store and full-time school, she knew she could save money with meal plans, but felt her time was better spent elsewhere. Unfortunately, she still has to eat, which is why she has me.
@Jon the Saver: No shame in “too cheap.” We all have to choose what we splurge on. Cashews are too rich for my blood. :)
@KS: A nightly happy hour is the best idea I’ve ever heard. I could seriously use an every night “date night.”
@Michael: Some of my meal plans started because my mother tends to cook chicken with rice and a different veggie every night…and I was starting to turn into my mother. Looking ahead I can make sure that we’re having something chicken, beef, pork, and vegetarian meals each week.
@HedgeHoncho: Why the same thing every week?

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52 Sharon V March 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Breakfast: scrambled eggs and a chunck of cheese, tea or coffee
Lunch salad, scrambled eggs, cheese, dressing, tea
Snack (if I feel hungry) small handfull of almonds
Dinner: Pork chops with sliced avocado
Dessert: maybe a 1/2 pb&J sandwich

Breakfast, lunch, and snack are almost always the same, except if there are leftovers. When we shop, we just go to the store that has the best prices overall, and get our groceries at once for the week, with preference given to sale items. Coupons tend to be for stuff we don’t usually buy, so I use very few of them.

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53 Sarah E. Welch March 9, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Yes and no. I’m having leftover homemade beef and veggie stew for lunch. I’ll probably have oatmeal for breakfast. Dinner? I have no clue. I really need to get a meal plan together–which is why I want to win this! :)

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54 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 9, 2011 at 6:30 pm

@Helen:That’s kind of how each meal plan starts. What’s in season, what’s on sale, and how does it work together becomes a plan and a shopping list. It’s like a tasty ballet.
@Allison: Thank you! I do love my grandmother’s recipes too. Makes the best days.
@Mercedes: I hate the mornings where I run out of time to get the crockpot going, but when I get it together, the house smells great when I get home.
@Erin: I love garlic cheddar mashed potatoes. Sometimes I add just a bit of horseradish or wasabi for a taste twist.
@Courtney: You sound exactly like Al. He doesn’t like going to the grocery store, but loves to cook when he has lots of choices.
@Chris: I’m sorry to hear that and I hope they’re taking good care of you.

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55 Grace L. March 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Do you know what you’re eating tomorrow? If yes, what? If no, why not?

Kind of… I eat the same thing for lunch every day, a frozen meat pie for 89 cents. I make homemade iced tea and take it to work with me.. so I eat lunch for under $1 every day!

Dinner is a little more difficult. Recently I’ve discovered that I have a ton of veggies both frozen and canned so I have been having “veggie” dinners. That’s right, I plop down on the couch with a bowl full of corn and that’s dinner! I always seem to forget veggies when I’m cooking “meals” so I’ll make a meal just out of them. Sad, I know!

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56 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 10, 2011 at 12:15 am

@Matt: We used to do that too, and we had a lot of “freezer meat and something” nights, but I kept forgetting to defrost. Almost forgot tonight, in fact.
@Julie F: That is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard. I always like to take a little stress off my husband when I can too.
@Christine: Way to work together. And gorditas and broccolini sound like heaven.
@Amy: Convenience is a big part of why we started this. One of our clients says even if she doesn’t use it every week, it’s worth the price to have it when she does.
@Becky Cromwell: Making meals in advance is really smart, especially with a 55 mile commute. Gee whiz!
@Josh L: Healthy and convenient are huge for me. I can’t eat the exact same thing every day, but I do try and cook extra of what I’ll need to use through the week. We might have baked chicken one night and then chicken fajitas the next.
@LB: I love it when my husband cooks too. Some of the recipes in the meal plan are from him.
@Rachel: Brinner is the best! We were thinking about including one brinner meal in each week, but weren’t sure everyone would like that. We get together and have bacon waffles some nights with friends.
@Financial Uproar: I totally understand, but still appreciate the support.
@AprilFire: That’s horrible! I hope your roommate gets paid soon.
@christina h.: Happy to help on the seasonal end. You’ll have to tell me what else goes in that smoothie. I’d love to drink my salads on occasion.
@Sassy: Sounds yummy. Tried my first white chili last month. Definite room for improvement on mine, but I hope yours is better.

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57 Erin March 10, 2011 at 1:10 am

It would’ve been pork tenderloin or rotini with bolognese sauce, but my FIL is craving ribs and is willing to buy.

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58 MindLess March 10, 2011 at 5:02 am

Tomorrow I will eat “enchiladas verde”. I know that because my boyfriend and I are having a meal plan for every week. When we moved in together we ate the same stuff over and over again just because we lacked creativity. Then we decided to wirte down every meal that came to our minds on little pieces of paper. We draw 6 every week (one can be redrawn if th eseason doesn’t fit or we just don’t want to eat it) and add a new recipe every week. If we like it, it goes into the box, otherwise we will forget about it.

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59 Steve March 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

I know I will be eating boneless wings from Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, but everything else is up in the air :)

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60 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 10, 2011 at 10:12 am

@Miss Delish: I’m in no position to judge. I had pizza for breakfast a couple days ago. But I used to justify chocolate cake for breakfast to my husband before we were married by saying it was “organic.”
@Lisa: Easy fix! Just toss a few veggies in there and it’s totally healthy. Even if you go to the freezer section and get a mixed veg pack, it ups the health quotient and the taste.
@Eric: Eggs are a great easy protein source, and much better than fast food. I have a weakness for fast food tacos, so kudos on your restraint!
@Ally: With such a young one it can be very easy to forget things at the store. You can try a sample plan and see if that helps. We tried to keep the Seasonal Any Store meal plan family friendly, because we know little ones can be a little picky.
@Sandy: It does match up with coupons…we just don’t match them up for you, yet. I try and look at the major players like coupons.com when I’m planning, and we’re trying to coordinate with other sites that game coupons to bring the best of both worlds. The good news is, generally, eating seasonal saves you money from the start because you’re buying what’s in abundance.
@C Ann: Not sad just busy. You’re lifestyle was actually what we kept in mind when designing this. A lot of meal plans give you recipes, but sometimes you just need someone to send you a shopping list and take any extra work out of it.
@Meg: I understand how hard it is to eat well when you’re trying to save money. That’s something my partner and I will explore further, a budget seasonal meal plan. If you want me to let you know if something comes of that, (or just want to offer your 2 cents on what you’d like to see) e-mail me at andi@mealplanrescue.com.

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61 Sarah R. March 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

yes! We are eating leftover potroast all weekend long.

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62 Amber March 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

We are making shrimp fried rice for dinner but we had to make an emergency trip
To the store at midnight last night for our breakfast and lunch stores so planning is definitely lacking :)

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63 Liz March 10, 2011 at 11:25 am

I know what I am eating tonight, Shrimp Pad Thai from a cooking light recipe…does that count? I have recently begun doing a meal plan on the weekend to get my fiance and I through the week without last minute grocery store runs. We both work longer hours and then often go to the gym, so going to the grocery store at 8pm to get food for dinner was driving us both crazy! Your website is a fantastic idea!

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64 Carol March 10, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I go from one extreme to the other. Menu planned, grocery list written out, come home feeling very Martha-like, put on my apron and cook. Then I tire of having to think it all up again, create the variety so I don’t get bored, etc. and start getting takeout. That then proceeds to wreck the spending plan for the month. I’m single, so it’s all up to me, and sometimes I’m just tired of having to make all the decisions.

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65 Dan March 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Yes, but only because my better half is a stay-at-home mommy who is a great planner… which is why she’ll love your new site!

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66 Jamie March 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Yeppers! I have a nice meal plan on my fridge! Love to get new ideas though, and love the seasonal aspect of this service!

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67 Barbara Fink March 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I usually try to cook on Sunday for food for the week, however, the food is usually gone by Thursday. Breakfast- toast and coffee, Lunch- no idea and Dinner- no idea (hopefully a date takes me out).

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68 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 11, 2011 at 12:50 am

@April: I used to shop the sales and hope everything would come together, but we’d inevitably be left with two items that should never be mixed. Hope you’re more successful than our chicken and potato chip night was.
@Sharon V.:Sliced avocado is a great side, and in season. Sounds like you have the shopping under control.
@Sarah E. Welch: Hope we can help you out!
@Grace L.: Actually, a dinner of vegetables sounds quite good. Just make sure you’re getting fiber and protein.
@Erin: I love in-law dinners, but I haven’t had good ribs since we left Las Vegas.
@MindLess: That’s awesome. My husband and I started out similarly. We wrote down a list of 90 meals and tried not to overlap any. It was excellent.
@Steve: Buffalo Wild Wings get the rave review.
@Sarah R.: Good call. Pot roast is something easy to turn into multiple leftovers.
@Amber: Even we make the occasional late night run. :)
@Liz: Thank you! Starting a meal plan is great…and you’ve already got creative down. Shrimp Pad Thai? Yum!
@Carol: I totally understand. Sometimes it’s just a lot of effort, especially when you’re on your own.
@Dan: Happy to help. Stay-at-home mommies need all the help they can get sometimes.
@Jamie: Thank you very much.
@Barbara Fink: We’ll think good date thoughts for you. Hopefully good dinner and good company.

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69 Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple March 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

That’s an awesome idea! Wish I’d thought of it. My meal plans are not only seasonal, they are almost exclusively based on my CSA, so they would probably be of interest to only my fellow CSA members. :-)

Tomorrow we are having leftover tri-tip (which I am cooking tonight), creamed kale and collard greens, and probably a rice/quinoa mixture (that I will use in Monday’s dinner of stir-fried bok choy, rice, and eggs). I haven’t planned past Monday, because Tuesday is CSA pick up day.

Meal planning saved me from ordering pizza last night…long week, really tired, MIL visiting…a short stop to pick up marinara sauce, and 30 mins later we had skillet pasta and steamed broccoli on the table.

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70 ~Carla~ March 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I do know what we’ll be eating tomorrow! I don’t plan breakfasts or lunches, but my dinners are always planned. Tomorrow is a roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, homemade bread, gravy, & veggies! :)

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71 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 13, 2011 at 12:40 am

Thank you everyone for entering the giveaway. I’ll be contacting the winner by e-mail. Keep up the good eats, and if you find yourself in a rut, or desperate for good eats, keep us in mind.

Andi B.
http://mealplanrescue.com

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72 Andi B. @ MealPlanRescue.com March 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I just wanted to thank everyone again. I had a great time writing this article and interacting with everyone. I know a lot of you signed up for a free sample plan, and hopefully we can keep you posted on some of the fun stuff we’re doing. A special thank you to Mercedes our giveaway winner. We hope you like our meal plans as much as we do!

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73 J. Money March 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Thanks again SO MUCH Andi!!! You rocked this out — really appreciate you responding to all comments too while I was gone. You’re the best :)

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74 Schare March 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

No, I don’t know. The kids are out of state visiting their dad for spring break. With just the hubby and I at home, our diet has went to crap. It’s been pizza rolls and sandwiches all week because none of us want to cook. I am notorious for spending hours researching and planning but I fail at the execution. lol So, while I may think tomorrow will be another day of cereal, sandwiches and pizza rolls…we may wake up and decide we are going to go out. lol Yay for spontenaity that only comes around a couple of times a year. : )

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75 J. Money March 30, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Haha, I’m that way too a lot of times ;)

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76 Tia April 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I have a better chance of winning a million dollars than knowing what I’m going to eat tomorrow. Why? Because I hate to cook and I hate how much time it takes to buy the food, prepare it, eat it, and clean up after it. Aside from that, we are really busy with our kids. Not really a good excuse but it’s the truth. ;)

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