How Meal Planning Helped my Family Get out of Debt with Lindsay Butler of One Beautiful Home

“When it comes to getting out of debt, meal planning is a HUGE component. Even if you are debt free – meal planning can still make a huge difference in your life, for so many reasons!”

-Lindsey Butler, One Beautiful Home Blog

Lindsay is a a stay at home -work from home mom who just recently moved with her two sweet boys (8 and 4) and husband, Scott, to Southern Florida, where she is quickly learning to love the sun and heat. She is a blogger over at where she shares strategies for families to get their finances in order, so they will be able to live life debt free. In addition to that, she also shares and creates resources for parents to help supplement their child's education!

I'm so excited she's here to share her meal planning story with us! Without further ado, let's dive into the interview.

Q. What spurred you to start meal planning as a way to save money?

A. Back in early 2011, I had a brand new baby and just quit my job to stay home with him. I took saving money for our family more seriously and quickly realized that spending just over $1000 a month on food for two adults and a newborn was beyond excessive. With minimal effort and a lot of consistency, I was able to save over $600.00 a month. That amount of money, when saved month-to-month can be life-changing. Especially for a young family!

Q. What meal planning and shopping strategies have you found to have the biggest impact on your savings?

A. When you are meal planning to save money, there are three approaches that have been my tried and true go-to's! First - Shop your pantry. Don't waste money on food that you don't need! See how many meals you can make at home with the food you have on hand. Work your pantry first, always! Second - Shop the deals. Base your weekly meals around the sales that are being offered at your local grocery store. Third - Try grocery store pickup! It is not only a money saver but a considerable time saver for me. I plan my weekly meals - order them via the app on my phone and then pick them up the next day! There are no impulse buys, and the app even matches my items with manufacturer coupons!

Allie's tip: If you've never tried InstaCart, click here for $10 off your first grocery order and use the code APEACH178186 I love that you can see your spending add up as you add groceries to the cart, unlike being at the store and having no clue how much your spending until you get to the checkout line. It's a great way to keep things in check, and not at all embarrassing to put unnecessary items "back on the shelf" before you pay.

Q. How much money does meal planning save you each week versus what you were spending before?

A. When I first started meal planning, I took our monthly grocery totals from $1,100 a month down to under $400. Again, with our original balance being so excessive, it was easy to do. It is definitely harder with you already have a low budget - but there are almost always areas that can be tweaked for even greater savings.

Q. What advice would you give someone who is trying to get a handle on their finances and thinking about meal planning to save money?

A. If you are struggling and want to get a handle on your finances, you have to lay it all out. Every bill you pay - every medical bill you are behind on - all of it. If you do not know how much you make or how much you are spending a month, you will never know what you need to do in order to improve. I offer a free Budgeting 101 guide. Please feel free to grab it and get started! One thing you SHOULD NOT do when you want to get your finances in order is wait. Do not get a cute mini notebook and write all your expenses down for the next month and then analyze it. All that does is allow you to keep overspending, and it keeps you in debt for one month longer than you should. Start Right Now!

If you are brand new to meal planning, I suggest that you plan for four dinners a week. If you jump in with seven dinners, seven lunches, and seven breakfasts - you will become overwhelmed — plan for four. Things always pop up during the week that messes with your schedule, and if you are anything like my family, there will be tons of leftovers.  <---- that should be rule #1 when it comes to meal planning - waste nothing. When you throw food away, you are throwing your hard earned money away. Eat up what you have before it goes bad. If you cannot eat it, freeze it! Meal Planning does not have to be difficult, especially when you have resources like Allie to help you along the way!

Link to Budget Guide:

This post is sponsored by my free masterclass, "How to Write the Shortest Grocery List, Ever!" This training is all about shopping your kitchen before ever hitting the store, so you can find meals you didn't even know you had. Write the shortest grocery list ever this week and save hundreds of dollars at the store.