Tip #7: Meal Planning
I’m showing you guys How I Save Money one post at a time. Today is Tip #7: Meal Planning.
I’ve told you this before, but Meal Planning is what took our frugal living from cruise control to overdrive. Being able to cut back on how much we were spending on food each week was a shot in the arm to our ability to put away savings.
Meal Planning might sound like a daunting task, but its really not, especially once you get the hang of it.
How To Meal Plan
To start, make a list of everything you have in your pantry, freezer & fridge. You can use my handy Pantry & Freezer Inventory sheets from my Meal Planning Binder to help. They’re FREE!
Think about the meals you normally make for your family, and pick recipes that you can make only needing to purchase 1 or 2 ingredients. This is commonly referred to as a Pantry Challenge – where you see how many meals you can make by just using everything you already have on hand, plus a certain amount for fresh ingredients, the fewer the better.
Need ideas? Spaghetti is always a good one for me. I usually have everything I need on hand except for an onion. My Spaghetti Sauce recipe makes enough for 2 meals, so I either use that for two nights of my Meal Plan, or I freeze the other portion for another meal in a few weeks. Stir Fry Chicken is another. I can usually make that with things I have in the freezer & pantry without going to the store.
While you’re planning your meals, take a look at the ad for your local grocery store. See what’s on sale, and see if any of the items that you need to purchase to make your meals are on that list. If so, those are the meals that you need to make that week. You’ve got a Meal Plan! YAY!
Try doubling up on those recipes, so you can have them for 2 nights by eating leftovers the next night, or freezing the second half for an easy dinner later in the month.
By choosing your meal plan menu based on what you have on hand and what’s on sale, you will spend WAY less at the grocery store. When you combine that with shopping from a list and with a full stomach, you’re sure to lower your grocery bill fast!
In my weekly shopping, I try to stay around $50 a week on groceries for a family of 4. Usually half of that is fresh ingredients, like produce and milk. The rest is for adding to the stockpile when there are good deals on things like pasta, frozen vegetables and other items that my family likes to eat.
Meal Planning will help you save significant money at the grocery store. That’s why it’s my #7 Tip for How I Save Money.
Want to try Meal Planning? I’ve got a binder for that! Check out my Meal Planning Binder, and use my FREE printables to create your own binder!
Check out all of my easy, actionable money-saving tips in my post 15 Easy Ways to Save Money!
Do you Meal Plan or participate in pantry challenges? How much have you shaved off your grocery spending? What are your favorite frugal recipes? Tell us in the comments!