If you don’t already meal plan and have a budget to keep to, you should give it a try. Sitting down for an hour each week can make shopping and mealtimes less frustrating for everyone.
Start simple: grab a piece of paper and write down every day of the week. Below each day you will write down a meal that’s planned for that day. On the back or another sheet, write down your shopping list of what you need for each meal.
Here are some tips to make the most of your meal planning:
Every week, before you sit down to meal plan, take a quick inventory of what you already have. If you have so much food that you think it’ll take you forever to do this, then it looks like you have a lot of food to help you save over the next couple of weeks! Just quickly jot down what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Make note of any produce or food that is going to expire soon so you can be sure to use them this week.
The Weekly Ads
Before you start planning meals for each day, go through all of your weekly grocery ads and write down anything that’s a good price that you could use for a meal. The key is to try to plan as many meals as possible around what is on sale or already in your house so you hardly have to buy anything at full price. If tortillas and canned beans are on sale, maybe you should have a taco night. If broccoli and dry pasta are on sale, try having some pasta with broccoli and alfredo sauce.
Keep a Price List
If you know what a really good price is, you’ll know when to buy a little extra to stock up. Some people can keep track mentally, but if you have a lot of staples that you need to keep track of then it might be best to have a sheet of paper in your recipe binder or on the fridge. Everytime you buy something that you buy frequently, write down how much you bought it for. After a while you’ll see what the best prices are and can buy a few extra next time it’s at a really good price.
If you often come across recipes online or in magazines, make sure you save them all in one place so they’re easily accessable. I have a recipe binder and will print recipes I want to try. After you’ve gone through your inventory and seen what is on sale this week, flip through your recipes and find any that are based around sale or inventory items.
Meal planning can really be a money saver and a time saver if you do it right. One big trip to the store each week beats two or three trips because you’re out of something and will also save you money on unplanned items you pick up each time you go. Knowing what’s on the menu each night for dinner takes a lot of stress out of the equasion so that you can enjoy your meals!
Aileen is a wife, entrepreneur and animal lover. She lives in a small California town, with her husband and a handful of pets, where she spends her days designing blogs and running her online boutique. You can find more at Life by Aileen where she talks about chasing dreams and her attempts at a simpler life.