Food on the Table: FREE meal planning for life!

If you’re trying to cut your grocery budget and save money, the best way to do that is NOT throughextreme couponing.” It’s through meal planning!  If you’re new to meal planning or you’re trying to save time, check out Food on the Table!  You can make your weekly meal plan in about 15 minutes including recipes and your grocery list!  It’s that EASY!

Here’s how it works:

1. Select stores in your area (I was able to add Kroger, Target, Randalls, and HEB for my area)

2. Choose your recipes for the week (they have gluten free, vegetarian, low carb, and low fat options and you can sort by crock pot recipes, pastas, casseroles, etc. too!)

3.  They’ll create your grocery list based on the best sales for the stores in your area!  You can customize your list and add additional ingredients and you can print it or access it from yourSmartphone!

Click here to grab your free for life membership to Food on the Table–> Food on the Table FREE for life!

Make sure you enter the code SUMMERFREE at check-out to grab this freebie!  This offer was supposed to end last month, but they have extended it, so hurry and grab it while you can!

If you have a Smartphone, make sure you check out their free app!  I absolutely love it because I can do my meal planning on the go and I have my grocery list right there on my phone!!

NOTE:  I couldn’t figure out how to sign up for free using the app, so I did have to create my membership initially using my computer.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information

Menu Planning Monday: My menu plan for the week of 5/27

The plan listed here just includes our dinner menu and recipes. I have calculated someWeight Watchers points values using the e-tools Recipe Builder, and points values this week are based on the new Points Plus program! (I will update with points values on the others as we have the meals) 

Here are some FREEBIES to help you get started with menu planning:

Grab a FREE membership to Food on the Table!  Search their database of recipes and choose your favorites.  They’ll generate your grocery list based on the best deals in your area.  You can print it or send it to your Smartphone!  It’s awesome!  Click here to grab your membership–>Food on the Table subscription FREE for life (use the code SPRINGFREE to get your free membership)

SMART SCHOOL TIME RECIPES: The Breakfast, Snack, and Lunchbox Cookbook for Healthy Kids and Adults [Kindle Edition] (currently free from Amazon for Kindle or your Kindle Reader – pricing can change at any time, so verify before downloading)

If you’re new to menu planning or would like tips for getting started, check out this post here.  You can also view hundreds of meal plans each week at

SUNDAY:  Chicken enchilada casserole – This is a recipe that my sister came up with. She uses canned chicken when she makes it. I came up with a little bit of a variation.  It is so easy and kid friendly, too!

2 chicken breasts (shredded) – or 1 can chicken
1 large can red enchilada sauce
corn tortillas
shredded cheese – I use reduced fat

Directions: (this is what I do) – I put my chicken and the enchilada sauce in the crockpot the night before and then shred it when I get up in the morning. If you are using canned chicken, you can just shred it as you are making the casserole. I spread some of the chicken/sauce mixture along the bottom of the casserole dish so it doesn’t stick. Break corn tortillas into four pieces and layer across the bottom of the casserole dish. Spread a layer of the chicken/sauce mixture and cheese. Add another layer of corn tortillas. Continue until you are out of the chicken/sauce mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

WW points = 8 points per serving (for 4 servings) – serve w/ green salad and grapes 

MONDAY:  Steak, baked potatoes, pasta salad, and banana pudding!

Banana pudding – it’s been WAY too long since I made this for my family. They all love it and I know it will be a nice surprise!

8 ounces sour cream (I use low fat)
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (I use fat free)
1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (I use sugar free)
2 cups whole milk (I use skim)
1 (16 ounce) package vanilla wafer cookies
4 bananas, peeled and sliced


Combine sour cream, whipped topping, pudding mix, and milk (I use a hand mixer to mix it all well). Layer vanilla wafer cookies in the bottom of a dish. Then, add a layer of pudding, then a layer of bananas. Repeat until all ingredients are used. I cover the top with a layer of whipped topping and crushed cookies.

Pizza pasta salad – I found this recipe on Favorite Family Recipes.  We made it for Memorial Day and it was a hit and so we made it again!

1 bag colored spiral noodles
¾ c. pepperoni cut into wedges
¾ c. mozzarella cut into small cubes
¾ c. fresh tomatoes, diced
½ c. olives, sliced
¼ c. parmesan cheese
1 bottle Bernstein’s Restaurant Recipe Italian Dressing (I’m using Kraft low fat Zesty Italian dressing)

Mix together all ingredients and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.

TUESDAY:  Macaroni with beef and cheese – I saw this recipe here on Pinterest and decided to modify it some to make it “quicker” –> Macaroni and beef with cheese (the original looks amazing so you should definitely check it out..what’s listed here is my modifications)

4 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
optional seasonings: black pepper, oregano, chopped garlic, italian seasoning
1 lb lean ground beef
1 box macaroni
1 cup each grated cheddar and mozzarella cheeses

Directions:  Make the sauce using the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, seasonings, and ground beef.  Layer with macaroni and shredded cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes

WEDNESDAY:  Crockpot chicken and rice (slow cooker)

2-3 frozen chicken breasts
1 pkg McCormick Zesty Herb chicken seasoning blend (sometimes I substitute the Good Seasonings Italian dressing blend if I have it on hand)
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c. hot cooked rice
Grated cheese
Bell peppers

Place frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot. Mix ingredients for McCormick seasoning according to directions on the packet and pour over the top of chicken. Cook on low for five hours. Shred chicken in crock pot using a knife and fork. Add cream of chicken soup. Let cook for one more hour. Service over rice with additional toppings as desired (we add cheese, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. depending on what we have on hand).

THURSDAY:  Melt in your mouth meatloaf (slow cooker) – Seriously so easy and a family favorite!!

FRIDAY:  BBQ chicken – we’ll marinate some chicken breasts in BBQ sauce and throw them on the grill!

SATURDAY:  Sandwiches – We buy hoagie buns and lay out lunch meat, tomatoes, cheese, and condiments!  It’s quick and easy and everyone loves it!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information

LAST CHANCE: Food on the Table Menu Planning Service FREE for LIFE! (ends today!)

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, then you know that I am a HUGE advocate for meal planning!  When I have readers ask me how they can cut their grocery budgets, I always tell them that you can’t cut your budget using coupons alone.  You have to strategically meal plan so that you are actually USING the food that you buy!  I know that meal planning is overwhelming for some people, so I’m excited to tell you about Food on the Table!  Food on the Table is a new service that helps you to create a weekly meal plan for your family  based on the grocery deals at YOUR stores!

I have been using this service for a few weeks now and it takes all of the work out of meal planning and is PERFECT if you’re just getting started with meal planning!  You go in and choose your recipes for the week from their database and they will generate a grocery list for you based on the ads in your area!  You can print your list or access it straight from your Smartphone app!  You can also customize it to add in the other items you need!

I have even more great news for you!  Food on the Table is normally $5 per month, but right now, you can get a subscription to Food on the Table FREE FOR LIFE!  This offer is available in the month of March only when you enter the code MARFREE.

Click here to start your subscription–>FREE Food on the Table subscription 

I can’t wait to hear what you think!  Even though I’ve been meal planning for years now, I love how easy Food on the Table is to use!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information

Need meal planning inspiration? Get free recipes from Recipe Mom!

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know that I am a HUGE advocate of meal planning!  I ? coupons, but to be honest, clipping coupons along is not going to save your budget.  If you have a meal plan, you won’t be eating out, and you’ll be using the food that you actually have on hand!

One of the most difficult pieces of meal planning is finding recipes that are budget friendly and that your family will enjoy.  I also like to add variety to our menu, so we don’t burn out from eating the same things over and over again, but I don’t always have a lot of time to search for new recipes.  Recipe Mom will deliver a FREE weekly e-mail with recipes and special offers!  It’s perfect if you’re a mom on the go who needs meal planning inspiration!  Sign up for your free e-mail here! I can’t wait to see what kind of recipes they’ll send!

If you’re new to meal planning and would like some tips for getting started, check out my post here. If you’d like more recipe inspiration, you can check out my weekly “Menu Planning Monday” posts here!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information


31 Ways to Save in 2011: Menu Planning


Next to creating and sticking to a budget, which I discussed in this post yesterday, menu planning is the greatest recommendation I have when people are looking for ways to cut their spending.

I started getting serious about menu planning about two years ago.   It took some time to get used to in the beginning, but it has definitely been worth it.  Before I started menu planning, I would often get home from work too tired to even think about cooking and since I didn’t have a plan in mind, it was easier to just resort to fast food.  Now that we’re menu planning, I am spending less money overall because we are not eating out as much and because we are using the food that we have.  I’ve cut my spending for eating out and grocery shopping to 1/3 of what it was when I was starting out!  I also love that we have time together as a family each night to talk about our day.  Research has shown the kids who eat with their families on a regular basis have higher grades in school and are less likely to take drugs.  It also is an important contributing factor in younger children’s language development!

Here are some times to help you get started with menu planning:

1.  Make a list of your favorite family meals ~ Sit down as a family and let everyone share a few of their favorite meals.  Make a list of everyone’s ideas so that you have something to start with!  You’ll be amazed at how quickly the ideas come.

2.  Don’t be afraid to try new things ~ Since I started menu planning, I have really enjoyed trying new recipes and finding things to add to our list of favorite meals!  I like to try at least one new recipe each week to avoid getting in a cooking “rut.”  Browsing recipe blogs, cookbooks, and other online resources really helps with this.

Here are some of my favorite blogs for dinner inspiration:

All Recipes – You can search for recipes by category or search by the ingredients you have.  When I need some inspiration, this site is always a great resource!

A Year of Slow Cooking – I would be lost without my crockpot and this blog has some great recipes! She spent an entire year cooking every day in her crockpot! If you’re looking for gluten free recipes, so has tons! I got her cookbook for Christmas and love it!

Favorite Family Recipes – Lots of great family friendly ideas!

On My Menu – When I get in a “rut” and am looking for new ideas, Marci’s blog is always an inspiration for me. Plus, there are great pictures and our kids are similar ages, so I figure if her kids like a recipe, mine will probably like it too!

Our Best Bites – Our two favorites so far from this site are the Cashew Sweet and Sour Pork and the Spicy Honey Chicken. These recipes are practical and family friendly!

The Menu Planning Monday posts at are also a great resource because you can browse hundreds of meal plans each week!

Here are some of my favorite cookbooks right now:

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook:  200 Recipes for Quick, Nourishing Meals that Are Easy On the Budget and a Snap to Prepare (I love this book because the recipes are practical and she makes suggestions for side dishes, too – she has a new book:  The $5 Dinner Mom Breakfast and Lunch Cookbook that I want to check out, too)

The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook:  301 Inexpensive Meals the Whole Family Will Love

Biggest Loser Family Cookbook:  Budget Friendly Meals Your Whole Family Will Love

3.  When planning for the week, consider what you have on hand and browse your weekly grocery store ads to see what is on sale ~ I meal plan one week at a time using this method, which helps to cut down my grocery expenses.  I usually sit down and plan for the upcoming week on Friday nights or Saturday mornings before I go grocery shopping so that my shopping list is based on the meals we are having during the upcoming week.  Using this method helps me to rotate my stockpile and since I’m using items from my stockpile, I’m also spending less at the grocery store.

4.  Plan a variety of meals ~ Plan a variety of meals each week rotating beef, chicken, pork, and pasta.  Sometimes, we also have “theme” nights such as taco bar, potato bar, or breakfast for dinner.  Planning a variety, keeps meal planning fun and helps you to avoid burn-out.

Here are some printable worksheets to help you with your menu planning: (all are free!)

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu planning form (includes room for a grocery list)

Printable Excel template menu planners (includes weekly and monthly worksheets)

Printable Weekly menu planner (includes room for a grocery list)

5.  Be flexible and figure out what works for you ~ Your menu plan is just a guide.  It doesn’t have to be an absolute.  Sometimes what you have planned for Thursday sounds better on Tuesday and that’s OK.  Some people don’t even menu plan for specific days.  They just come up with options for the whole week.  I usually do all of my meal prep work before I go to work (putting everything in the slow cooker if I’m using it that day or cutting up meat, veggies, etc. so I just have to cook it all when I get home), so things go quickly once I get home.  Even during the summer, I like to do my prep work early in the morning, so I’m not as stressed trying to put dinner together in the evenings since that’s the time of day when my kids seem to go crazy!

If you’re looking for inspiration to help you get started with your menu planning, check out my weekly Menu Planning Monday posts!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.