Meal Planning Tips & Tricks + Easy Crock Pot Meals - B Loved Boston

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Meal Planning Tips & Tricks + Easy Crock Pot Meals

I've had today's post in my "blog notebook" since I started blogging! It's one of those topics that I have always wanted to do and then when it comes time I just forget!! Well this past weekend I decided I would really highlight the way we meal plan and what works for us! Since it's just the two of us, I realize our grocery list is probably a bit smaller than others with a family, but we only pick up things that we need, unless goldfish are on sale, in which case I will ALWAYS pick them up! 
For us, Saturday's or Sundays are the best time to go to the grocery store. I like making sure I don't have to go during the week since I'm usually drained after work. I rotate through pinterest, tried and true favorites and our recipe books to come up with some good meals to choose from. When we first moved in together we tried going to the store every day for what we thought was "fresh" food and ended up spending so much more money weekly rather than just one trip! 
Meal Planning Tips & Tricks
My sister in law got me this meal planner for my bridal shower over two years ago and I'm on my last few pages...so I've had my eye on a few that make life easier. I found this printable and this one that I'll probably just print out when I run out. P.S. they are free!! 
(Just realized I left the "e" off of the potatoes...)
Having a clear and defined list has helped not only plan better, but also keep our grocery bill down from when we first moved in together. Pre-planning meals means that I can look through my spices and things I may have in the fridge and make sure I'm not doubling up on things that I already have! This grocery list allows us to also only spend at most 20 minutes in the store, usually we can be in and out in 15 because we know all the aisles and we also have automatic checkout - so we scan as we go. Knowing our grocery store so well also helps keep the time in the store down and coupled with the list we don't dilly dally in the aisles! 
One of the last things I do is transfer our menu to the chalkboard that hangs inside one of our cabinets. This system really works well for Gary and I because if I'm running late, he can get started on dinner and we don't forget what we're making. It also helps if I need to defrost chicken or turkey the night before I wont forget! 
As much as I love cooking, some days it's just easier to have everything thrown into a crock pot and ready for us when we get home from work!! Here are some of my go-to crock pot meals! 

Meatloaf


Some people are fans, others aren't, but I love making this once a month for a hearty meal and enough for lunch the next day! I shared the recipe back in May of last year and it's still a go-to for us! 

Chili

Everyone has their own way of making chili and this one of our favorite ways!! The avocado slices definitely add a little something to it! 


This is so easy and the best part is that you can really pair it with any side! 


Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

These are really out of this world good!! The crock pot portion is easy and then you do have a little more preparation with the taco portion, but the chicken is so tender it really is delicious
Are you a fan of meal planning? Do you have any helpful strategies? What are your go-to crock pot meals?

Linking up with Emily & Kate
xo,
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76 comments

  1. Love all your ideas and I have been doing a terrible job meal planning lately. Well this week I'm on track but I haven't been up until now! lol It makes life soo much easier. We make a lot of the same meals. :) xo

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  2. MG and I do a lot of these (we don't write it down on a chalkboard tho). I think planning ahead and getting everything in one trip (and usually few to no extras) can really help you feel prepared, and also stay on budget. It's a big help to us!
    We also have meatloaf usually once a month--but we do a twist on the normal and do our feta and sun dried tomato meatloaf. It's oh so good!! :)

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  3. What an amazing bridal gift, love the pretty meal plan planner.

    We have white board we use to keep everything in front of us and I love it. Makes dinner time that much quicker. We usually go to the store after church on Sunday and then have an extra stop or two if we can't get everything the first time.

    Great tips and tricks, lady!

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  4. I really need to be better about meal planning, I go through spurts of being great at it, then weeks of grabbing frozen meals and then the worst of weeks where we eat cereal and sandwiches for dinner haha. Youve inspired me :)
    Brooke
    pumps and push-ups

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  5. I'm definitely printing the planner out and trying those chicken tacos! :)

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  6. I love meal planning but I need to get better at it! I often repeat meals every week or two and it gets boring! Those tacos and that chili looks amazing! And if Goldfish are on sale you cant NOT get them. Itd be a crime :)

    <3, Pamela
    Sequins & Sea Breezes

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  7. I always have the best of intentions with meal planning but I seem to forget one ingredient and its out the door. The crockpot saves the day for us so often!

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  8. ok, you've got my interest piqued with those chicken tacos! i need to check those out. i'm all for crockpot.

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  9. This is such a great system Biana. Those tacos look yummy and so does that chili!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

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  10. Great Great tips! The chalkboard is an amazing touch!!

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  11. Great tips! I'm trying to get better at meal planning since if I go shopping without a plan I tend to either overdo it or buy random things that don't translate into meals. I love the chalkboard inside of the cabinet - cute and functional!

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  12. The chalkboard menu is so cute and functional- and I love a good crock pot meal! Dump it, set it, and forget it.

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  13. I totally plan my food out for the week but it's pretty boring for the most part. I don't know what I would do if I was in charge of someone else getting fed! Haha!

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  14. Loving your meal planner and your chalkboard... every night H is always asking "What's for dinner?" It would be nice if it was on display, and he'd know what to expect all week. We also do all of our grocery shopping on the weekends, because like you the last thing I want to do after work is hit up the grocery store :-P

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  15. all those recipes look yum! i seriously don't know what i'll have to do if i get a significant other and/or a child - bc i don't plan a thing including my meals. ha! but it's definitely the smart and cheapest way to go! you inspire me for sure!

    cheshirekatblog.com

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  16. Oo, I love that chalkboard, that's a great idea! I so need to get better about meal planning! All these recipes sound delicious!

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  17. This is so helpful! Ryan and I go through so many up and phases with meal planning. Because of his work schedule and hours, some weeks its harder than others. We definitely make an effort, though. I think a chalkboard like you have would help because then I would be reminded to cook and not order out when I'm tired! Chili is my go-to infamous slow cooker recipe - it was passed down by my mom, and it's always a crowd favorite!

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  18. I am so in need of meal planner worksheets - I use planners for my workouts and everything else, but always forget to chart what I want to cook for the week. I still end up cooking almost every day, but the hassle of the last minute decisions definitely needs to end! Thanks for sharing the free printables!

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  19. Love hearing about meal planning. I've always wanted to try it, but my husband doesn't like the idea because he likes to pick what he wants to eat everyday. I can't complain though, he does most of the cooking and doesn't mind going to the grocery store to get whatever he needs - so whatever lol.

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  20. Those are great tips! We recently started meal planning and it has saved us tons of time and money!

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  21. Thank you for sharing this Biana. I love meal-planning posts. The Sunday and Wednesday dishes sound delish to me.

    Hope you had a fantastic birthday also.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day! Ada. =)

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  22. Thank you for sharing this Biana. I love meal-planning posts. The Sunday and Wednesday dishes sound delish to me.

    Hope you had a fantastic birthday also.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day! Ada. =)

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  23. Thank you for sharing all of this! That chalkboard is a good idea. Chris has been doing the grocery shopping without me because he'll go on Saturdays while I'm at work. There always ends up being a day during the week where I have to go to the store to get stuff to make something.

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  24. I'm with you on not wanting to go to the store after work! We always try to go on Sundays. The meal planner is such a good idea!!
    xo Emily
    www.fashioncolumntwins.com

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  25. We always go to the grocery store on the weekends too! I love a good easy recipe! Definitely trying those chicken tacos and Hawiian chicken! Yum!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

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  26. I need to be more organized about my weekly meal planning, so this is incredibly helpful! And I want to try out those yummy recipes. I make the chicken crockpot tacos and they are SO good!

    xo,
    Jessica
    www.fortheloveofbubbly.com

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  27. The crock pot is just about the only way I cook! :) I love prepping everything the night before, then dumping it in the crock pot in the morning before I leave, and have it be done when I come home. The chicken tacos look tasty- we'll definitely be trying those this weekend. What helped us save the most on our grocery bill is... living 30 minutes away from the nearest store! We'll go shopping on Sunday, and by Thursday we're eating whatever's in the house that needs using up- we really need to just do better at planning meals for the week!

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  28. Come on, B.. you know Friday is Sushi Night! ;)

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  29. You and Gary have the best system! I love how well you two work together! Meal planning can be the best and the worst, ha ha! But grocery shopping is always a pain! I've never loved it! It doesn't matter how efficient my list is- I always forget one thing! UGH! And I never dilly dally, yet I'm in the store for at least a half hour. Uuuuugh. Good thing Mia is quite the angel shopper and puts up with me every week :)

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  30. Absolutely love the idea of the chalkboard inside the cabinet!!! I have that pinned but never followed through. So smart because then whoever is home first starts! Definitely inspired me! xoxoxoxo

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  31. I wish I could be this organized when it comes to meal planning. That Hawaiian chicken looks amazing!!

    xx,

    La Joie de Vivre

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  32. I've just started to get back into meal planning. I used to be a meal planning queen before the baby... But post-baby has been a loooooottttttt of take out. Not only is that expensive, it's bad for us! We have a chalk board on our pantry door in our new house, so I'm totally going to use your idea and list out meals there - love that!

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  33. I am a huge meal planner. Tacos, chili, and meatloaf are always awesome crock pot meals!

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  34. Oh yes, huge meal planner over here! I just can't imagine not doing it haha. That Hawaiian chicken looks SOOO good.

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  35. Meal planning is one of those things that I've always wanted to get into but never can seem to make it stick. Basically the only time we plan meals is when we're getting a Plated delivery! :)

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  36. I try to meal plan, but I tend to deviate way too much! Love how organized you are. And definitely needing to try buffalo chicken meatballs. Those sound amazing!
    xo Southern Style

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  37. Meal planning is seriously the biggest life/time/money saver! I love it and do it religiously pretty much every week. Adding buffalo chicken meatballs to our upcoming menu because those sound delicious!!

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  38. Biana - what is automatic scanning? You mean you scan items as you walk through the store? I NEED THAT! I have never heard of it before. Genius. Also thanks for sharing the menu printable! I've needed something like this for a while.

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  39. This is exactly how I meal plan! Though I totally need one of those super cute booklets. It really helps keeping track and not over spending or throwing cookies into the cart. (; I love your little chalk board idea too. So organized. (:

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  40. Did I just read "buffalo chicken meatballs" on your menu. OMG! That sounds divine :)

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  41. Great post- I definitely agree that going to the store throughout the week definitely makes me spend more money than going once on the weekend. We've been so busy the past few weeks with family in town/ eating out etc that I am so looking forward to getting back on my grocery shopping & meal planning tack!! Cute planner too!

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  42. LOVE this post! You are so organized that those chicken tacos look amazing!
    ~Samantha
    http://goldcoastgirlblog.com/

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  43. Great great ideas! I love having it written on the chalkboard! My kids could help get things started for me with a little tool like that and I have a chalk wall in my mudroom... thanks! Chicken tacos sound wonderful!

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  44. I'm so bad at meal planning... maybe I need to really make it a goal & start making changes, slowly.
    I'm in love with the black board on your cabinet... I just pinned something like that because I want to do it on my pantry!!!

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  45. I always plan!

    I love the chalkboard inside the cabinets. That's awesome!

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  46. Meal planning and grocery shopping are quite possibly the worst chores to me! Buuut as much as I hate meal planning, it really does help in making the week nights easier and keeping the grocery bill down, so I guess it's got to be done. Loving that little chalk board in your pantry...need to get one!

    Shannon
    Clothes & Quotes

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  47. We meal plan and grocery shop on Sundays. I sit down and make the list and we grocery shop at Target for 95% of our stuff so I go through Cartwheel and add any coupons that there may be for items we need. I have a rotating list of the usuals and then a few times a month I get creative and try something new when we are in a rut. My favorite crockpot meals are salsa chicken, buffalo chicken lettuce wraps and bbq chicken that I shred over sweet potatoes.

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  48. These are such great tips! Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken is a weekday favorite of mine too! :)

    XO,
    Gentry
    Girl Meets Bow

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  49. Meal planning is so great! It definitely saves money at the store and makes life easier at home. I live for the crock pot! It makes things SO much easier! I started using liners in mine every time I cook with it to make clean up easier!

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  50. A crock pot is always a great way to knock out dinner. I'm back to square one now with figuring out meals since grocery shopping is just kind of silly for now. Working on my motivation level :)

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  51. Meal planning is the way to go. I need to get better at doing it. We eat better and don't waste as much food that is for sure. Love the idea of having the chalkboard in the cabinet. Definitely will be doing that.

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  52. Need to try that Hawaiian crockpot chicken ASAP!!! We follow a similar schedule where we grocery shop on the weekends and it always throws me off for the whole week if we don't make it there on Saturday or Sunday! Loved reading your tips :)
    xoxo Danielle
    For the Love of Leopard

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  53. I am in love with the idea of meal planning, but actually doing it? ugh. i know it helps, i know it saves money, i know it's healthier.. it's just so hard, because of the whole gluten free / not a fan of meat / husband who eats as much as a horse. sigh. i know people everywhere do it though, i'm not the first person to deal with a picky husband... or be picky, haha.

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  54. Having a meal planner is such a great idea! It must make everything (especially the shopping) so much easier. I need to start doing this asap!

    prosecco in the park

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  55. I love the way you're so thorough and organized with your meal planning! Sometimes I'm really good about planning for a few solid meals at a time, but usually I just end up buying the same things, having two meals in mind and figuring I'll just make the rest of the week work somehow, haha. Also, you have the cutest handwriting!

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  56. I love this, I will totally try this when I get my life together haha!

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  57. Love our Crock Pots! Yes, Pots. We have 2. We do a lot of Crock Pot meals because we are so busy it's way easier than taking an hour or two to cook a meal.
    And when we do meal planning I love it. With a kiddo and our schedules it's really hard to do, but I love having a plan and we spend way less money.

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  58. I completely agree, meal planning is the way to go for us as well! Some weeks I am really good at it and others I find myself stopping at the store every evening, ah! I'm definitely going to be trying that Hawaiian chicken, yumm!

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  59. Where do you shop so that you scan as you go?? OMG, I need that in my life. We do a weekly meal plan and it helps us SO much. DG and I did the same with "fresh" food daily early on. The other thing we do is go with a specific list. However, I went shopping yesterday after work and bought a lot of chocolate peanut butter cup gelato and Prosecco. I couldn't help it. It was after work. :) xo

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  60. Love this post! I've really gotten into meal planning recently because it's just too hard to try to think about it after work. That crockpot hawiiian chicken looks amazing, gotta give that a try!

    xoxo
    Karen
    http://kensingtonwest.me.uk

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  61. You are so organized with your meal planning, I am envious. I have weeks where I plan then others where everything is grab and go. I love this and such a fab idea. I used some crock pot recipes for a while and loved how well they all turned out!


    Denise | Fashion Love Letters

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  62. Thanks for the meal planner links, love your tips!

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  63. I love that you shared this because I've struggled to get back in my cooking/grocery shopping routine since basketball has been over. I need to do a better job of listing out our meals for the week - love how you did it on the inside of a cupboard. Probably stealing that idea.

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  64. This literally made my little OCD heart so happy! I make the most extensive grocery list because I can't stand forgetting something or getting home and realizing I already had 3 bulbs of garlic from the last trip!

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  65. that chalkboard idea is great! we have one in our kitchen and it helps us stay on track. the chili looks good and so do those tacos!!

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  66. This is a very good post, Biana! I must admit that I'm not good when it comes to meal planning/grocery shopping. I shop often and some of the food I buy goes bad before I can get a chance to cook. I hope it's due to the fact that I have an unpredictable schedule (i.e., school/homework) and it'll get better once I start working! Will definitely keep your tips in mind (:

    - Deniz
    www.dressedupdeniz.com

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  67. I love reading other people's meal planning tips and tricks and while I'm no where near where I should be, I've been making a conscious effort when I'm home to make Sunday a grocery shop and meal prep time. Generally I'm better about prepping my lunches for work and would love to get as organized as you about dinner time. Love the chalkboard idea too...Nick definitely will pick up the slack and start dinner but if I leave him to his own accord it's going to be chicken and rice...again =)

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  68. Such good tips! I suck at meal planning and I can already tell my Summer is going to be crazy, so I definitely need to get on my A game!! Have a wonderful week, friend!

    xx, Leah / Eat Pray Wear Love

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  69. I've been so bad about not planning out meals lately. I definitely think it helps us to stick to a plan and be healthier when we do so we're not scrambling at the last minute. Lately I've been working until 8/9pm so I'm just eating something at my desk :( I need new recipes so I can get excited about cooking again. Thanks for sharing these!

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  70. Thank you for this post! This is definitely something I need to pin for later. We've known we need to start meal planning better because everyday we end up asking each other the same question, "What do you want for dinner?". We have taco's almost weekly and I love chili in the winter's too. We also have spaghetti A LOT! Do you guys eat leftovers?

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  71. I love reading people's meal planning posts because we tend to be so bad about it! I've been trying to get better picking recipes that use like ingredients so I don't have to throw out too much. I so wish I could convince my husband to eat meatloaf, it's such a comfort food staple that my mom always used to make, but there's no way I could eat an entire loaf on my own, haha

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  72. Thanks for all of the great meal planning suggestions! This is an area that my boyfriend and I struggle with so I'm excited to try some of your tips and especially some of the crockpot meals that look super delicious.

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  73. Automatic checkout might be the coolest thing I've ever heard off! If I don't meal plan, I spend WAY too much at the grocery store and we find ourselves going out much more often. Pinning a couple of these recipes!

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  74. I love the idea of planning ahead, but what do you do if the day rolls around and you dont feel like having what you planned? Just curious!!

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  75. These are such good ideas! Meal planning saves sooooooo much money and its just the best. Sadly I have thus far sucked at it. Well Im doing a lot better at cooking at home but i find that some days I switch what I planned to make and have to run to the grocery again etc. Its a work in progress basically!

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  76. Girl, you are SO organized it's impressive beyond words! :) I think if I had someone to eat dinner with every night, then I would be more into meal planning. But when I'm cooking for just myself, I totally slack. :)

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