If you’ve been reading frugal living blogs long enough, they all say the same thing about how to save money on groceries and meal planning.

Check your pantry before you go shopping, use food before it spoils, plan your shopping trips, and use coupons.

Be honest. Do you all of these things?

Ok, Ok, I’m guilty. Please don’t judge.

I haven’t been meal planning like I’m supposed to.

I sometimes buy duplicates of what’s already in my pantry.

And many times, I run out of the house… (gasp) without coupons!

As a stay at home mom (with an active 3 year old) who also works at home, I find it challenging to stay on top of bills, chores, my work, and cooking with the limited spare time that I have, much less watch TV.

My focus is making sure that she is fed food that she is not allergic to and is healthy. And that’s a lot! I cook all of her meals because of her multiple food allergies.

That’s why I need the time that I’m devoting to meal planning to be super productive. I need something that works, will save me time, and will not overcrowd my already busy, mommy mind.

I only want to shop once a week too. And this plan needs to work with special diets like for gluten-free, dairy-free.

From the feedback I have received from email subscribers, you are looking for solutions as well. So I’ve chosen to list 3 resources so as not to overwhelm you.

The meal planning apps/sites have a small cost but you’ll recoup it with the money you’ll save by not wasting food and buying only what you’ll need. My hope is that you can use one of these resources to make meal planning easier to stick with.

3 Meal Planning Apps

1. Out of Milk (Web, Android, and iPhone)

http://www.outofmilk.com

Cost: Free

Manage your pantry.

Out of Milk is a free app that helps you take stock of what’s in your pantry and how much is left. This way you won’t buy the same thing twice! It also reminds you when something

Plan out your shopping trip.

Then there’s a shopping list feature that stores the price of each item and quantity you need. Before you head out to the grocery store, use this list to see how much your shopping total will be.

It’s really handy for staying within your grocery budget and planning out your trip. There’s also an option to keep track of whether or not you have a coupon for an item.

Find grocery deals in your area.

If that’s not enough, there’s a feature to see grocery deals with exact prices, according to the stores near you.

 

2. Cook Smarts (Web)

http://www.cooksmarts.com

Cost: $6 – $8/mo. (Get $5 off first payment here.)

Cook Smarts is a meal planning service. Each week, you’ll receive a menu of recipes for healthy meals and the grocery list.

If you’re too overwhelmed, busy, and exhausted to think about menu planning, this site is for you. Cook Smarts is well organized with gorgeous photos of each recipe and cooking videos.

The planning work is done for you. All you have to do is shop for the ingredients and cook the recipes.

What I love is that each recipe has a gluten-free, vegetarian, and Paleo version to suit different dietary needs. Check out the free sample meal plan to see if it will work for you.

Best of all, it helps you to learn how to cook or expand your cooking repertoire. Please note that there are only 4 recipes per week.

Save $5 off on a monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription, when you use this referral link.

3. Plan to Eat (Web)

http://www.plantoeat.com

Cost: $4.95/mo.

Plan to Eat is also a meal planning site but what makes it special is that you can store recipes from the web and add it to the menu planner section. This is great for those who want full control of meal planning and want to try online recipes.

The menu planner looks like a calendar with a month’s view. Plan breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack by typing in the name of the meal or dragging the recipe you’ve already saved.

When you’re adding to the menu planner, you have the option to also add ingredients directly to your shopping list. You can also edit the serving size of the recipes.

Which app or site do you use for meal planning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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