Did you know we meal plan for 6 months at a time and buy what we need in bulk? It's what allows us to spend about $200 a month TOTAL for all of our food… grass fed, organic everything.
Don't want to plan for 6 months at a time? Grab my FREE 5-Week Meal Planning Tool here! It takes all the guess work out and creates a custom meal plan (using your recipes) that's printer ready in less than 2 minutes!
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Ok, let me be super clear here: There were many hours of math, recipe tweaking, and really wondering if we could actually do this. But I finally got it all sorted on paper, and let me tell you... this REALLY works!
We are now in our 3rd rotation of this exact meal plan that I'm sharing with you now, and we are loving it!
The Six Month Meal Plan
We opted for a five week "month" so that the foods we chose didn't come back around as quickly.
Just want to make a single custom 5 week meal plan? Click here for the free tool!
How Did I Choose the Meals for This Six Month Meal Plan?
Ok, so here's where the math nerd in me really, really comes out!
I knew we really needed to save money, but I wasn't all that thrilled about the idea of finding new "cheap" recipes and being forced to eat them.
So I wanted to stick with what I already knew we liked, or even loved, to eat.
Bear with me, this took a while, but it was SO WORTH IT!
I took each one of the recipes that I make on a regular basis, and I priced one full batch.
Low cost example: Chili
Tomato Paste - 5 cans @ $0.70 each = 3.50
Brisket - 2 lbs @ $1.47 each = $2.94
Onions - 2 large @ $0.50 each = $1.00
One batch makes 5-7 meals for our family. But I take the low end and calculate the cost for 5 meals.
Total cost per batch = $7.44
Total cost per meal = $1.48
High cost example: Potato Soup
Raw Milk - 1 gallon @ $10.75 each
Organic Potatoes - 3 lbs @ $1.00 each = $3.00
Bacon - 1 package @ $6.00
Organic Chives - 1 bunch @ $1.27
Raw Cheese - 1 block @ $6.99
Einkorn Flour - 2 cups @ $0.80 each = $1.60
Butter - 1 stick @ $1.12
Again, one batch makes 5-7 meals for our family. But I take the low end and calculate the cost for 5 meals.
Total cost per batch = $30.73
Total cost per meal = $6.15
Obviously, we wanted to be more on the $1-3 per meal range.
I didn't use potato soup in every 5 week rotation, but once it gets cold, I have it budgeted in a few times. Fall just isn't the same without potato soup!
I tried to keep each day to about $7.85 for all three meals, or about $2.62 per meal.
CLICK HERE TO PIN THIS FOR LATER
UPDATE: Recipes Used
I've had some questions about the specific recipes used for this meal plan...
The recipes I used were just family recipes. Some of which I have on this site that I can link you to... but the rest I left pretty generic so people could use their favorite recipes!
Like meatloaf, sandwiches, and fried chicken. You probably have a recipe you already like for those things! This way you're free to use what your family already likes :-)
Here are the recipes from the meal plan that I've written about here on A Modern Homestead:
Lemon Honey Chicken - Baked or Fried
Easy Fried Rice
No Knead Sandwich Bread
Perfect Creamy Potato Soup
The Secret to a Perfect Pot Roast
If you want to use ONLY your own recipes, you can grab my custom 5-week meal planning tool (printer ready in less than 2 minutes) here!
What Does the "OUT" Mean on the Plan?
Like I've mentioned before, we wanted to keep things realistic for this menu plan. So we left in one dining out meal per week. We alternated between a Saturday afternoon meal and a Sunday after church meal.
What About Breakfast?
We are admittedly a little boring during this 6 month meal plan on the breakfast options. But when it came down to it this was about saving money.
Oatmeal is delicious and you can dress it up a ton of different ways. We did opt for pancakes and waffles on the weekends just to indulge a little.
Check out my Einkorn Waffles recipe here.
What About Dessert?
We aren't big dessert people around here. Or, at least we don't have to have it everyday. So I didn't budget in a ton for sweets.
What I have been doing is making a double batch of chocolate chip cookies every few weeks and freezing the individual dough balls. That way we can make a few when a craving hits.
Check out my Einkorn Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe here.
Can I Really Save More Money by Planning for Six Months?
Short answer: Yes!!
Long answer: Yes, because by planning for 6 months at a time, you know exactly which ingredients you will need and can then buy them in larger quantities at a discounted price.
Related: When and How You Should Be Buying In Bulk
We have actually been able to save over $7800 a year by doing our meal planning this way! That's a lot of cash! And we are eating better than ever; grass-fed meats and butter, organic everything else!
How to Store All the Food in Bulk
There are definitely some things to consider when buying so much in bulk. Check out my Well Stocked Pantry post here to find out a few ways we make it work in under 800 square feet of house!
How To Make Your Own Six Month Meal Plan
You're of course free to fill out the template any way you like, but here's what I found to be the fastest and most cost effective way to plan...
After compiling the costs for all of our favorite meals, I chose the 15 "cheapest" and began pairing them up to put on to the calendar.
I took 3 of those meals per week and just rotated them through the lunch and dinner slots on the template.
Note: We tried to have a weekly rotation that looked something like this...
1 Beef meal
1 Chicken meal
1 Meatless meal
Once those 3 recipes are used for a week, they don't come back around for another 5 weeks!
Mostly the 5 week menus are the same. I did rotate in some of the more expensive meals on every other 5 week plan. Like potato soup and sandwiches (which are surprisingly expensive!).
Don't forget about holidays and special events when you're doing your menu. You don't want to have a meal at home planned for your anniversary and then decide to go out instead! That's just a waste of money, time, and food!
Review of the System So Far
Like I said earlier, we are in our 3rd 6 month rotation of this exact meal plan. It's been working really well for us, not only by helping us to save money, but also by helping us to eat WAY better food!
Before we started this new meal planning idea, we used to dine out 3-4 times a week. I know, it's awful... but with a brand new baby cooking everything from scratch was tough! So once my 6 weeks of pre-made freezer meals ran out, we turned to fast food.
Anyway, I thought it would be very difficult to stop that habit. However, having a plan for every single meal made it really simple to stick to the plan.
The only thing I would say is, make sure you have all your food prepped (or even cooked if you are able) at the very start of the week. If you don't then dining out becomes much more tempting.
Bottom line: The food is amazing. We are saving a ton of money. And we know exactly what's in the food we are eating.
I'm really excited about this plan and I hope you love it as much as I do!
Share some of your ideas in the comments for low cost meals to add to this low cost menu plan.
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I bought the e-book and worksheet and while the information is helpful it would be more useful if the worksheets were on an excel spreadsheet so that calculations could be made quickly and it could be manipulated. I’m finding it complicated and tedious to write on the small lines. and calculating everything by hand. I have 3 kids and I’m looking for something efficient these days. :-)
Hey Veronica! Great idea, and one that you aren’t the first to suggest! I am working on getting those added and it should be updated soon. I will send you the updated version when I’m finished! <3
Maybe I’m confused. I’ve downloading the monthly meal planning tool myself and I’m trying to input the information for my recipes. I guess I thought it would be a different meal each night of the week, but it looks as if we eat the same meal on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays and then a second meal on Tuesdays and Fridays, and then third meal on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Am I missing something? I thought once you ate it that week it didn’t come back for 5 weeks. So confusing!
Hi Miranda, thank you for your question! Reading back over the post I can see where there might be some confusion.
The reason the meals don’t come up again for 5 weeks is because you will have eaten the same meal 3x during 1 week.
I do this for ease of cooking, and ease of planning. You can make a triple batch of something the first time you cook for the week and then have 2 additional meals later on. Easy!
I hope that helps, sorry for the confusion!