Summer Meal Planning on a Budget

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This time of year can be hard for mamas. We spend more at the grocery store because we are making three meals a day at home since the kids are out of school. Unless you homeschool like us, and you’re making three meals a day every day all year long. 

Summer meal planning on a budget can be done without all of the stress.

And it’s simple…. always have a plan and map things out.

Large family meal planning is my specialty. As a family of eight it is how we save money when it comes to your grocery budget. 

Let me show you how to use one pot meals, like your slow cooker and your electric pressure cooker, to keep the house cool while you cook and avoid the drive-thru lines. 

And, if you are interested in freezer cooking, so that you’re that much more prepared, I really encourage you to preassemble meals and toss them in the freezer. It makes dinnertime so much easier!

Want to take a look at what weeknight dinners look like this week at our house? Here is our weekly meal plan and what we are serving our family of eight. 

Sam’s Club Grocery Haul for June 2022

Here is what a filler bulk grocery haul looks like for our family of seven in the summertime.

Summer Meal Planning with Freezer Meals 

Grilled Bratwursts– this is a new meal that we just love. I know they keep making a debut on our weekly menu. We buy them in bulk at Sam’s and toss them on the grill. We buy them in packages of 16 and it feeds an army. This was Lenny’s dinner request for Father’s Day Dinner. We had a spread with chips, dips, sauerkraut and baked beans. 

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken– this recipe is super easy to make and it is one of the meals we assembled ahead of time. We share the recipe in our downloadable cookbook that helps you beat the heat.  I served it with homemade Spanish rice (I buy rice in 50 pound bags) and I buy my chicken in bulk at Sam’s because I can get chicken breasts for $1.88 a pound. This slow cooker dump recipe is so delicious.

This meal costs roughly $6.60 to make for my entire family of eight. I get my chicken for $1.88 a pound at Sam’s. I use two pounds for this recipe. I get Salsa Verde at Walmart for $1.98. I buy Rotel in bulk at Sam’s and I end up paying $0.81 per can. The cumin, chili powder and minced garlic are bought in bulk at Sam’s and cost less than a nickel combined for this recipe. If you want to serve rice as the side, it is bought in bulk at Sam’s and costs about $0.14 per cup to make. I generally do about 2 cups at dinner time if it is just our family of eight. 

Santa Fe Chicken– this is another one pot recipe that is from our downloadable cookbook for summer.  Cook it in your slow cooker or your Instant Pot. It’s packed full of vegetables and I love the chicken and black bean combo. So delicious. The next day for lunch we reheat the shredded chicken over chips and top with cheese to make nachos. Save any other chicken you have left over in the freezer and add it to a Tex-Mex casserole or soup in the coming months. 

Southwest Beef and Black Bean Sweet Potatoes– this recipe is from our March freezer meal plan. I am going to substitute the chicken for ground beef. I will cook the sweet potatoes all day in the slow cooker. Super easy! This is a great meal idea when you’re wanting to eat real food that is clean and good for you. Add the ingredients to your shopping list! I will serve cut up fresh fruit on the side. 

Chicken and Gravy over Rice– this is a delicious comfort food meal that is very similar to my Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles recipe, except this version is a little thicker and served over rice and topped with green onions. We are going to make fresh green beans to go with this.

One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta– this one pot pasta meal is delicious! I am going to make this in my electric skillet. We will have a side salad as well. 

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken– this is another meal from our summer recipes downloadable cookbook that is linked up above. This is so flavorful and served with steamed white rice on the side. Add some fresh pineapple slices too. 

All of these meals are perfect for large families. 

Make Ahead Freezer Meals for Summer

Here is what it looked like as we assembled even freezer meals a few weeks ago. 

I did a FB Live video over in our Get Dinner on the Table group. Click the link to request to join and I will get you approved. Then watch the video and assemble the meals for your fridge or freezer as well. 

Don’t be intimidated by freezer meals. It is a great way to spend an hour putting meals together so that dinner is a breeze for busy week nights. 

And remember, if you don’t want to make them as freezer meals or make ahead meals, that is ok! Just make them as you go, one night at a time. 

(Ignore the mess on my kitchen table.) 

See how compact and perfect it is when you prep the meals ahead of time? They take up hardly and space. 

Make sure you use a permanent marker to label the front of the bags and you are all set. 

Two of the meals I tossed in the fridge and cooked them in the slow cooker over the next two days. 

The five remaining meals I tossed in the freezer for another week. 

These are all meals that can been cooked in the slow cooker, pressure cooker, electric skillet or on the grill. You choose the way that is best for your family’s needs. 

Grocery List Items to Buy in Bulk

Here are some of the items I bought in bulk at Sam’s for this meal planning trip. 

  • Hot dog buns
  • Sandwich bread 
  • Bananas
  • Onions
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Taco seasoning
  • Canned Rotel tomatoes 
  • Canned corn 
  • Canned black beans 
  • Chicken breasts 
  • Chicken Thighs 
  • Bratwurst
  • Instant mashed potatoes 
  • Chips
  • Lunch meat 
  • Sour Cream
  • Cookie Dough 
  • Olive oil 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Juice 

I love to use the online shopping feature for ordering my bulk groceries from Sam’s. 

The rest of my groceries are ordered using Walmart’s online grocery ordering service (my affiliate link allows you to get $10 off your first order of $50 or more). I also use the online service from HEB. I like to buy my beef and some product from HEB which is a Texas grocery chain. 

Quick and Easy One Pot Meals for Breakfast Lunch and Dinner 

Last week I did a segment back in Dallas for the local morning show.

They asked me to help moms, just like you, beat the heat and prepare one pot recipes for their families for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Of course I said yes. We love doing segments on their show and have been doing them since October 2014. 

We made chorizo and egg in the electric skillet for breakfast. 

We made Egg Roll in a Bowl in the Instant Pot for lunch. 

We made Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore for dinner. 

You can watch the Good Morning Texas One Pot Meal segment and see exactly how you can do it too! 

Dinner does not have to be hard. Learn how to meal plan and you will be on your way to getting dinner on the table every night for your family which will save you money! 


  1. You have inspired me to make a batch of freezer meals. I have done this in the past and it makes daily dinners so much easier! Thanks for inspiring us at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home. –Jennifer

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