Save Money by Planning Meals Ahead
● By Hood Magazine
By Shaina Herrmann
Planning your meals ahead of time is one of the biggest ways to save on your meal budget each month. Planning ahead isn’t always easy, especially if cooking meals is not something you love to do. Meal planning is something that needs to become a habit in order to really work. By setting aside one hour per week to do your meal planning, you will start to see an enormous change in not only the amount you are spending, but in the quality of food your family is eating!
- It’s good to begin with a visual of the amount you are currently spending on food. Get out a pen and paper and take a look at your bank statements. Add up all the money you spent on any kind of fast food or sit down restaurant in the last month. Combine that amount with what you have spent on groceries. That number will help you decide what your realistic budget for food should look like.
- First, choose a day that is convenient for you to be your weekly shopping day.
- Decide on a budget. Divide it up between which stores you plan to shop at.
- Start your meal plan by checking out all of the grocery sale flyers. What is on sale? What is in season right now?
- Search for recipes online that include as many of the sale ingredients as possible.
- Do a quick search online for printable coupons. Only search coupons for items that are on your grocery list!
- Do an additional quick search for store coupons.
- Most people will do a weekly meal plan, but if you’re a big planner, by all means go ahead and make a monthly plan, or even a 6 to 8 week plan! The more meals you have planned ahead, the better chance you’ll have at creating and maintaining a new meal planning habit for your family.
- For those 4+ week meal plans, decide ahead of time how often you want to shop. I will usually do one short weekly trip for fresh ingredients, then one big trip once a month, usually planned for the day after payday.
Extra Tip! Once a month, if you are able to set aside a couple of hours just for cooking, take that time to cook multiple meals ahead of time that you can freeze for later. This way, even on those busy nights, you’ll be able to quickly heat up a home-cooked meal!