Meal Planning for This Week

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Planning out the meals for the week can help you stay organized and well-fed. This week I discovered color coding to help me know what meals we can make with what we have and what meals will need to be shopped for.

I made the executive decision to end my Pantry Challenge on the 28th, using the groceries reported here and including the orange juice, cheese, chips, and bread that I bought for last night’s dinner ($17.50). That brings my total for Pantry Challenge spending to $468. Hubs birthday is on Tuesday and that’s when this week’s sales end. And, honestly we’re ready.

Everyone fell ill over the weekend, so we’re ready for some comfort foods.

I’ll be taking advantage of other sales before the end of the month, but we’ll be eating from those Pantry Challenge groceries until then. So, officially 4 weeks of pantry challenge spending and using what we have was $468 which is a huge success. My January spending will be higher due to taking advantage of those sales.

That said, the challenge was a success, I think. The savings is allowing me to build up the stockpile and take advantage of sales without going over budget ($800/month for 8 people) which might have happened if I had shopped based on what we wanted rather than what we had.

Moral of the story: Want what you have.

This Week’s Meal Plan

Here’s a picture of our week’s meal plan, I put in purple the things we already had and the brown notes are things that will require some grocery shopping, sometime this week.

On color coding:

I actually like the color coding and may continue it, though I will go find colors that I like. Purple and brown are not my faves.

Anyway, the color coding is a nice technique because at a glance you know which meals you can make without having to go to the store. If you don’t make it to the store when you think you will, you still have choices. Nice Pantry Challenge technique if I do say so myself!

I’m going to continue doing 3×7 meal plans since it really does help us limit waste and be more organized.


served with milk and fresh fruit


served with fresh vegetables and fruit

  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Grilled Cheese on Homemade Bread
  • Pasta Salad
  • Sunbutter Sandwiches
  • Turkey Sandwiches
  • Quesadillas
  • Leftovers, if any


served with seasonal vegetables

Need help with Meal Planning?

In the coming weeks I’ve be continuing Meal Planning 101. If you’ve missed earlier parts of the series, you can see those here:

I also guest posted on Pantry Challenge Meal Planning a lot over the last week. Check out these posts:

How to Build a Pantry that Works for YOU :: Food Your Way

Shop Your Kitchen to Plan Your Meals :: I’m an Organizing Junkie

Save Money with a Pantry Challenge :: 5 Dollar Dinners

Need even more meal planning inspiration? Check out Menu Plan Monday.

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  1. Awesome, Jessica! I would call it a success as well. I didn’t officially participate in the challenge, but I did clean out a ton of stuff from my freezer this month and I did my best to stay OUT of stores until I had a big enough list to warrant a trip. Those “I just need a few things” trips are the end of my budget. Self control is key for me… I’d rather shop for food over clothes any day! It’s kind of my addiction! I hope that your family feels better soon. What a bummer that they are all sick!

  2. Well done! One of our goals for the year is to grow more food (for us and the animals we raise) so that we don’t spend so much overall. I think this year we’ll keep our CSA share in case our garden isn’t successful, but with the goal of phasing that out next year. We seem to be good at “growing animals” but not so good with plants and it’s time to figure that out. We spend as much as you do and there are only 3 people in our family!

  3. Sounds like y’all did a great job!

    We’ve actually used up several things that I will be replacing this week. Things like carrots, celery, bread flour, mustard, etc. etc.

    Was kind of neat to see things go down though. We’re going to somewhat continue through February. I’ll be picking up some fresh items and a few staples, but hope to continue eating down what is in the freezer.

  4. I have been doing a 3×7 meal plan for some time now, and you are right. It does save money and help me be more organized. I love the color coding! What a great idea! I use your menu /groceries list printable, but I never thought of color coding for meals I can make with items on hand. Thank you for all the recipes and menu planning ideas and inspiration.

  5. I am glad I joined the pantry challenge. It has reminded me how much I enjoy baking and cooking when I take the time to plan ahead so I am not under the gun at meal time. Tonight I got out my grandmother’s recipe books. They were each married during the height of the 1930s depression so most of their recipes call for simple, staple ingredients. I had forgotten how non-existent the instructions were, however. The first line of instructions for butterscotch lemon cookies states “usual directions.” My daughters were both horrified and fascinated by this lack of instructions. My husband suggested I take the time to write out more “modern” instructions for the next generation of family cooks. Sounds like a good task to add to the to do list.

  6. Congrats to everyone that participated in the challenge. Since we had just come home from a Christmas vacation, I already had a pretty lean pantry and freezer. I was trying to use up what I had before we left in order to have some extra money for vacation. But I still followed the series this month and was interested in what was made. I did manage to use up almost everything that was in my freezer anyway, with the exception of a few soup starters that I had in there from leftover crock pot meals. I made chicken stock yesterday and will make one of those starters today for dinner. I also tried to be extra frugal with the spending because cash is tight this month. This series helped me to stay focused and walk away from some splurges that weren’t in the budget.

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