Sep 9, 2013

Clean Eating Menu Planning and Magnet Prep Boards

For those of you that know me you know that I recently have made some lifestyle changes in order to eat more clean and live more healthier. Over the past few weeks my family and I decided that we would try our best to become more healthier. Our goals are somewhat simple but in this day and age  fast food, hectic schedules, work loads, and the price of organic/clean food at the market can certainly prohibit a family from sustaining a natural and healthy lifestyle. And when it comes to a family of five the cost of groceries and eating clean can seem overwhelming. So how do I plan on preparing clean healthy meals while keeping the cost of the grocery bill at or below budget? Let's find out...

When you think of clean, whole foods what do you think of? Protein, dairy, veggies, fruits, grains and water? Well, at least I do! I sit down at the first of the month, when our budget is more flexible and subtract $300.00 for groceries. This is just food items. All non-food items come out of our weekly funds. Some people might look at $300 bucks and think okay that's less than $70 dollars a week. But I don't do that. I look at the $300.00 in whole for the month and then divide into percentages. I like to think of my budget being split between them.Here is a more simple way of looking at it...

  • Protein.....30%.....$90.00
  • Dairy.....20%......$60.00
  • Veggies....15%....$45.00
  • Fruits.......13%....$40.00
  • Grains....17%....$50.00
  • Mis..... 5%....&15.00
Here is how I break my shopping list down. Don't Forget to download your FREE COPY OF THE GROCERY BUDGET SHEET.

{ P=protein, G=grains, V=veggies, F=fruits, D=dairy}

This list/budget helps me keep track of each category.  I can cross out what I buy and jot down the actual cost. That will help me prepare even more for the next trip. It might seem a little unnecessary for some but this really helps me. Everyone is different. It keeps me from coming home with more than I need or in some cases too much of one thing. Have you ever got home from the store and realized you forgot some meat you needed, butter, or side dish. This budget is set up with a little room for error and in most cases I don't spend near that much. So, if I end up saving money in one area or in general that's great, and of course my goal!
First, when it comes to meal planning you need to decide if you are going to plan by day, weeks, or months. Most people prefer to do a week at time, making a market run at least once a week. I however prefer to do it a little different. I plan out my meals a month ahead of time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks for 30ish days.

I use this template for planning. I fill it out in Adobe so I can cut in paste the same meals or move around meals if I need too. Don't forget to download your FREE MONTHLY MEAL PLANNING SHEETS. 

I like to fill everything out on the computer so it's nice and neat versus my chicken scratch all over the place. Once I am finished arranging them and filling them in I print, laminate them together,and hang on the fridge. That's of course after I head to the store. But before I head out I take a few things into consideration.

  • Shop discount stores:Discount shopping is something I try to do at least once a month. Here in NC we have salvage stores and variety shops that bring in supermarket "rejects" and sell them for cheap. I guess it's like a "scratch and dent" sale. Almost every trip I can find all natural, organic, healthy staples for well under price. Good things to look for are: boxed crackers, peanut butter, dry goods,coffee, canned items, cereals, oatmeal, juice, and meat. 
  • Shop Aldi:  Aldi is probably my favorite grocery store because they're cheap, consistent, and offer a great selection of healthy & fresh merchandise. Their produce prices are amazing!
  • Shop flea markets/farmers market: You can find cheap produce here. 
  • Get to know a butcher: You can save dollars by only purchasing what meats/cuts you need. 
  • Meatless meals: some of our favorite meals include, pizzas, quesadillas & pastas 
  • Almond milk (it's cheaper than cow's milk, although I still get whole milk for the little ones)
  • Limited diary: cheese is a rare commodity in our house. I purchase block cheese and shred it myself.
  • Swap out breads for wraps: You can get more bang for your buck and more nutrients by swapping out your sandwich bread for a pack of whole wheat tortillas or by making your own. 
  • No sodas: This one is hard. Even for us. I am a Diet Coke lover and my hubby loves all kinds of sodas. But we have made a promise to each sodas. And we definitely don't allow our children to have them on a regular basis. 
  • Filter water: instead of purchasing bottled water. Filter your tap.

I used to be one of those extreme coupon ladies but once I realized how much time and money I was really spending it became a little less exciting. On occassion I will print a coupon or purchase a Sunday paper {at the beginning of the month} but I don't rush out to buy everything on sale. I save the coupons until I need something and match it with the best sale. Almost every week to every other week the sales and coupons are the same. So your not really missing out on anything.
I try to follow these guidelines when I am heading out on my monthly shopping trip. Now don't get me wrong I sometimes have to stop by the store for a handful of items but I try to purchase the bulk of my items in my once a month run.And in all honesty most coupons, that are for food, are for processed boxed items and that my friends is not clean eating.


Keep in mind that eating clean is both hard and simple. The most simple things are usually clean. But it's hard to stay away from processed food that's slammed with preservatives. So a great tip to always keep in mind is to shop the out skirts of the supermarket. The boarders include the deli, meat department, dairy, produce, and bakery. If you follow that general rule you should stay away from the boxed up, un-clean food. But remember to read the labels, even if it's in the safe zone it very easily could be filled with no-nos. And hey, if all else fails and you do end up purchasing and eating something that's pretty clean but not 100%, to me that's better than eating dirty. :)

QUICK IDEA FOR MEAL PREP & My Silhouette Challenge

Let's talk a quick sec about meal prep. Since you'll be slicing and dicing your way to a cleaner lifestyle you'll need to keep in mind surface prep and cross contamination. Here is my trick to keep it clean while keeping it clean {wink wink}.

I purchased three inexpensive cutting boards like these from Wal-Mart for 97¢.

I took the boards and designated them for veggies, fruits, and poultry. Since going clean we have cut out red meat from our diet. Chicken, turkey, and occasionally fish and pork. I like the look of the word poultry on my board but you can certainly to do any word.

I made a simple cut file from text and some cute font called Pupcat. Download the FREE CUT FILE HERE.

I took three sheets of vinyl: pink, green, and navy, mirorred the text, cut them with my Silhouette Portrait, then transferred the wording on to the back of the boards. The cutting side is free and clear, ready to use. But, the text reads through the back and looks all bright and cute. Next, you can hot glue a couple of magnets to the back so these babies can take home on the side of the fridge.

I hope this little customization helps keep track of what board is for what and eliminates the possibility of cross contamination. So clean, cool, and ready for cooking!

I hope this post finds you in good health ready to take on the "EAT CLEAN" challenge. If you meal planning and shop on a budget you should be able to purchase the items you need to start your new way of eating without going broke. And with some super colorful cutting boards you'll be ready to start chopping and dicing your way to a better life.

Don't forget to download your meal planning sheets, your free cut file and to check out these amazing Silhouette projects from my friends from The Silhouette Challenge on Facebook.

Organizing for Preschool by Life After Laundry
Stamped Wrapping Paper Tutorial by The Thinking Closet
Gender Reveal Fabric Banner by Create & Babble
Preschool Lovey Book by A Tossed Salad Life
Front Door Sign by Cutesy Crafts
Paper Pumpkin Banner by Chicken Scratch NY
A Stache Bash Shower by Home At Eight
Fall Decor with the Silhouette by Coley's Corner
Happy Fall Y'all by Tanya's Creative Space
Halloween Lights by Lil' Mrs. Tori
Customized Disney T-Shirts by DailyDwelling
Craft Room Labels by Super Sweet Life
Toddler Growth Chart by Joy and Gladness of Heart
"Let's Hear it For the Boys!" by An Elegant Touch

Anyone else want to weigh in on the topic of clean eating? How do you plan and budget for clean eating? Any tips and tricks for planning, prepping, and producing clean meals? And for those of you interested in joining our Silhouette group send a shout out to Lauren here.


  1. I love the ideas on this site!! I just recently started an HCG diet with but now I want to do other healthy things as well! I'll totally be following this blog in the process!

    1. Thank you so much Jenny! I have heard of the HCG diet before but never tried it. Let me know how it goes and good luck!

  2. I love those cutting boards! Super clever!!! Hope you have a great day

    Cami @
    Sunday Bewitch Me & Titi {Link Party}
    Thursday Titi's Spot for the Silly HOP

  3. You are amazingly organised! The menu planning tips & tricks are so useful. Love your chopping board project too - very clever :)

  4. Wow! You truly have a talent for organizing, charts and things. I love the idea of having separate cutting board. Great projects!! You rock!

  5. This is such a good post. We spend close to that a week in groceries, and I do meal planning! The cutting boards are fabulous too! Such a nice variation on the ones that you can buy!

  6. These are great! I love all the organizational ideas! What kind of vinyl did you use for your cutting board project?

    1. Thanks Marilyn! I used the regular everyday vinyl from Silhouette America. So far I have used it outdoors and for things like this that get washed all the time. So far so good!

  7. Wow, you are organized! I love those cutting boards. I should work more with vinyl. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. now thats the smartest thing i have seen all day- great idea for separation of the boards- i love the colors too!

  9. i love the labels on the cutting boards :) and thanks for all that info :)

  10. Okay, not only am I really loving this post because it has me re-inspired about menu planning (we've fallen off the menu planning wagon a bit lately), but also I am SO going to use that cutting board idea! BB&B, here I come with my 20% off coupon, and you'd better have some clear cutting boards!

    Thanks for participating in this month's Silhouette Challenge Group Post, Stephanie! Thanks for the inspiration!

    The Thinking Closet

  11. I REALLY love this idea. I hate trying to use the same cutting board in the correct order as to not cross contaminate. And I love your menu planning and budget plans. I really am going to run the budget idea by the hubs. Great project and super cute menu plans!

  12. I love this! Thank you for linking up with us!!!

  13. I really like your idea for three different cutting boards. Well I like the whole post, really. I'm a fan of a well organized list! Thanks for linking up.

  14. You are just so organized! I think that will help you to eat clean. Planning is so important when it comes to eating healthy. I have used those cutting boards and decorated them with vinyl cut-outs. I don't have a Silhouette. I have 2 Cricut machines, though!

  15. Thanks to all that like this. I can't wait to see your cutting boards and hear of all of you clean eating ideas!

    1. Stephanie, I just ran across your post -- December 15 - lol. Anyway, I enjoyed it very much. I'm a clean eater (try to be 80% of the time) and I'm looking for other on-line buddies who are in that same life-style. I would love to keep in contact by following your blog. You can check me out as well at I will be doing the cutting board idea and I will check out more post on your blog. God bless.

  16. How do you store your veggies and fruit so they don't go bad since you are buying for a month?

    1. I do try purchase almost everything for the month but a lot of times I will stop by the market for fresher produce. However when I purchase produce at the beginning of the month I take time to store everything in air tight containers or ziplock bags. I freeze some things like berries and sliced veggies for soups and things. In the summer we make a garden and I try to preserve what I can by freezing or canning. I need to do more of that and learn better processes for both. Hope this helps.

  17. I so want o start the cleaner healthier eating! I feel like I am too ADD to even begin. I have a family of 5. We budget $300 every 2 weeks for food and I desperately want to cut that down but I am really kinda burnt out on coupons and the time it takes! Our budget does include all toiletries, dog food, cleaning supplies which I don't have to buy often bc I dilute or buy things like peroxide to help w cost. BTW peroxide is an awesome stain remover for clothes!! I also shop at Aldi a lot (I'm in SC). My husband and 2 of my 3 children take their lunches but have no way to heat anything up so I would love your advice on all this! Thanks & sorry for the small book lol

  18. Hi there, I can't download your free grocery list and monthly meal planner, I'm not sure why but is there any other way I could get them??? Thanks! From Katie x

    1. These are no longer available to print from the post but if you can email me I can send you another link. Thanks!

  19. This is the most gorgeous meal planner I have seen and I want it in my life! I have downloaded it but don't have the option to print - any tips?

    1. I have an editable meal planner in my Etsy Shop. Link is in the menu bar^! Enjoy!

  20. I saw your blog and have been trying our meal prep for a week as well. Would love to get your opinion on how I did :)

  21. Hi not sure if you'll able to read it but do you have any other monthly plans to share besides September!


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