This Week’s Dinners for $70 or Less: Pretty Meaty

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This meal plan is pretty meaty, can be shopped at Trader Joe’s (though you don’t have to) and comes in under $70.

Pretty Meaty Meal Plan for $70 or Less: This meal plan is pretty meaty, can be shopped at Trader Joe’s (though you don’t have to) and comes in under $70.
Ready to get cooking, save money, and serve your family some tasty meals? I’m here to help.
Gosh. I could go on an infomercial, couldn’t I? Only that would mean you’d need to watch late night TV or something to see it. And I wouldn’t want you to do that.

Instead, I want you (and me) to spend more time with people we love, reading good books, working out, or taking a nap instead of spinning our wheels — or wasting time on brainless TV. Well, it’s your free time, isn’t it? You spend it how you like. I still ain’t going on no informercial.

One of the things that I love to do is to meal plan. It has always been a fun thing for me, ever since I was about 16, had big hair, drove this boat, and convinced my dad to give me the grocery money each week.

A few months ago, Janel and I started working on weekly meal plans that you could shop for $70 or less, that built on one another, could be prepped ahead, and bonus: were shoppable all at Trader Joe’s.

You don’t have to go there, but if you have a deep, burning desire for a Trader Joe’s meal plan, this is it! Or this one. Or this one.

This week’s plan includes quite a few meaty meals, thus it’s very technical name: Pretty Meaty. As in,

adverb, informal
to a moderately high degree; fairly.
“this week’s meals are pretty meaty”
synonyms: quite, rather, somewhat, fairly, reasonably, comparatively, relatively

Clearly, writing up this meal plan didn’t use up all my brain cells, but it’s close.

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Pretty Meaty Meal Plan for $70 or Less: This meal plan is pretty meaty, can be shopped at Trader Joe’s (though you don’t have to) and comes in under $70.

The plan is formatted as a full-color pdf. If you don’t want to use the colored ink, be sure to change the setting in your print window. Alternatively, save a tree and save the pdf to your iBooks or other pdf library on your tablet or phone. Just be sure to take your device to the store with you.

Recipes in the meal plan:

Here are the recipes in the plan. See? No cookbook purchase required. ;) Most of the work is already done. You have to shop and cook. And eat. Not too hard, right?

It seems like a lot of recipes but that’s because you’re making everything from scratch. Plus, the spice mixes will keep. You can use them again next week.

You can download the meal plan along with the grocery lists, prep instrux, and cheat sheet here.

In addition to the 40+ meal plans already available on Life as MOM, we’re now preparing meal plans with a week’s worth of recipes that build on one another and that cost under $70 for the whole week of dinners.

Obviously this type of plan is a little more time-intensive to prepare than previous meal plans, so we won’t be posting them on a weekly basis, at least not at the start. Any constructive feedback you can offer as we work out the bugs, is greatly appreciated. You can leave a comment here or email janel(at)lifeasmom(dot)com or jessica(at)lifeasmom(dot)com. Thanks!

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  1. This is a great concept. We are going thru a difficult financial time right now and when I was thinking about how to cut back on groceries, I immediately thought about your site. Thank you.

    • So glad you thought of Life as MOM. Don’t forget to check Good Cheap Eats as well. Be sure to send me an email if you have specific questions or need help thinking through your plan to cut back.

  2. Robin Ann Apicella says:

    I am SO excited to have a cheap meal plan for shopping at Trader Joe’s. That’s my favorite grocery store, and I can’t wait to start using your plan! Thank you so much for doing this. I also appreciate that you are not taking the processed food route to make it cheap! You can eat on a budget and still eat good food!

  3. I was excited to see your meal plans. I have a large family and even if I have to double some recipes I will still come out so far ahead. It is amazing how quick a grocery budget can spiral out of control.

  4. Thank you so much. I am really enjoying this. I’ve got some free time at the moment (at work) & got this through my email. I just love it!! We are a family of 7 and I’m always looking for different things to cook that won’t bust the budget. Thank you for all of your hard work putting this together!!

  5. Unfortunately, I live 3 hours away from the nearest Trader Joe’s, but I will be sure to review your meal plans before I go there next time. Thanks for the meal inspiration! I think we can all use some help feeding our families in this tough economy. Thanks, again!

    • You can shop the plans at any store. As I’ve explained in the plan and previous posts, Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry everything a grocery store carries. So, the plans are tailored so that you COULD shop at TJ’s if you wanted to, but you don’t have to. Walmart or Kroger carries everything as well.

  6. We’ve been eating our way through this meal plan over the last week & a half. It has been lovely for our winter weather in Australia! The chilli bean soup was a hit last night and my bean loving boys were intrigued by the black beans I managed to find (they’re not grown here). Thanks for a tasty meal plan!

    • We had friends who live in Australia visit us last week. Black beans were something they’ve missed. Glad you could find them! You could always use more of another kind if you need to.

  7. Tracy Noling says:

    While I don’t live near a Trader Joes, I will validate that everything on this list can be purchased for $70 at ALDI’s. I was price checking as I went through the store and by the end, I was a few dollars under budget (we already had a couple of the canned goods in the pantry) and I was able to swap out for frozen pizza, which is far more convenient when my husband makes dinner on the nights I work late. Final grocery bill was $68.41 (normal for the week for us is about $150 for 5 people) and that also included buying milk, oatmeal, lunch stuff for my husband and a few yogurts. Thank you so much! I look forward to seeing your meal plans often!

  8. Are you still posting these meal plans? I only see the one posted last year. I’d love to see more budget friendly Trader Joe’s meal plans! I’m going to try this one today!

  9. This is Great. Will help me with meals all week long.

  10. My husband and I work full-time outside of the home and are raising 3 girls. This is my second week on your meal planning and I have been pleasantly surprised! Week one we had plenty of leftovers, enough to pack lunches everyday! I was most pleased at the grocery store where I normally spend about $200 a week and feel like we never have anything to eat! Thank you so much for putting the time and effort into these plans. We ate at home everyday, saving money and spent more time at the dinner table! On Saturday we had so much left over me made a lunch buffet. I would love a dinner menu for nights on the run, we start soccer soon and that will put us away almost 5 days a week. Thanks again!

    • Great! I am so glad to hear it! I’m putting final touches on a “month of meal plans” and am starting another one that is make-ahead. Sounds like it will be perfect for soccer season. 🙂

  11. I love this! Thank you so much for all the work you put in to making this easier for so many families! I just moved my family of four across country, so we’re exhausted, still unpacking and we also homeschool, so there is little time for efficient meal planning. This is a God-send!

    One question…did you intend to include recipes for the grilled chicken/veggies and the skillet-cooked chicken w/fish mama sauce –or are we meant to improvise, since those are pretty basic dishes?


  12. Can’t wait to try this. We don’t have a Trader Joe’s near by so I’m going to try it with Aldi and another local grocery store. I’ll have to make gluten free as well but I think I can still do it for $70 or less. Saving for a family trip to Scotland too! I recently listened to you on Katch about your family saving for Scotland too. I’m hoping you go before we do so I can find out where you stayed. Have you thought of staying in hostels with family rooms? We’ve looked into some hostels and vacation rentals both.

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