Meal Planning: The #1 Way to Cut Your Grocery Budget
Budgeting can be a difficult task to master, especially when it comes to planning your grocery budget. When you incorporate meal planning into your family’s routine, you are setting yourself for “budget heaven” because you know what you’re buying when you go into the store.
We use meal planning every single week in our house because it has many benefits. The top benefit is that you are saving money on groceries, and then the added fact that there is no guesswork when it comes to making dinner each time. By meal planning, you can plan according to your family’s schedule also. So that means when its baseball practice night, you already have a plan ahead meal that is quick and simple, allowing plenty of time for homework and dinner before practice.
Reasons You Should Try Meal Planning:
- You know what you’re cooking ahead of time.
- Your grocery budget sets itself.
- You can use up food in your house before buying other items.
- It saves you from the “What am I making for dinner?” scramble.
So you may be wondering how this is going to save you money. Well, I’m here to tell you how. I am not a huge couponer, and I don’t “ad shop” or “price compare.”
My grocery savings come primarily from meal planning. We have an adorable Menu Board that we use each week so that the whole house knows what’s coming for dinner. My board is set up from Sunday to Saturday, so each Saturday my son and I sit down and plan out what we want to eat for the week. I make a list of what meats we currently have so that we aren’t buying unnecessary products and then go from there.
How to Meal Plan
Okay, so it seems pretty self-explanatory but I’m going to give you the steps so it is very clear.
1. Make a list of the meat or ready-to-make meals that you currently have.
2. Make a list of what meals you can make from what you have, use these to fill in some of the upcoming days.
3. Once you have your on-hand meals written out, you’ll want to pick out recipes for meals to fill in the days you still have left to plan for.
Use your family’s schedule, whether it be band practice, sporting practices/games, etc. to make sure you have easy-to-make meals for busy days.
P.S. Crockpot meals are excellent for these days.
4. Once you have your list of meals, you’ll make your grocery list of what you need for each meal. Typically, I only need a couple of items throughout the week.
Add your necessities to the grocery list, such as milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper.
Another way to add savings to your grocery shopping is to use Flipp, which is a smartphone app that allows you to add your grocery list to the app. It then will tell you which items are on sale, and where the sale is.
This will help you save a few more bucks if there are good sales on a few of your items. Plus, there are coupons on the app, all you have to do is load it to your store’s reward card.
Why Should I Try This?
By meal planning this way, you are only buying the food that you need. This way you’re not wandering through the grocery store buying whatever looks good at the moment. If I shop without planning meals, I end up buying way more than I need. The worst part is, a lot of it ends up in the trash. *face meet palm*
Additional Ways to Cut Grocery Costs
Buying into a CSA (community supported agriculture) from local farmers.
If these are available in your area, take advantage. Seriously, my house goes through so many fresh fruits and vegetables. My grocery bill always goes way up when I’m stocking up on fresh produce. By buying a CSA from a local farm we save hundreds. Especially through the summer.
To find a CSA program in your area you can go here and enter your city or zip code.
Added bonus! Some of them include extras like fresh-cut flowers and herbs or even pumpkins during the fall harvest. Plus, you’re helping local farmers keep their business alive.
Using apps such as Ibotta to save on the items you do buy.
If you aren’t using Ibotta, it’s great to sign up. My suggestion is only to use the cashback for items you plan on buying. You can easily get carried away and buy extra for the cashback. Just remember, you’re not actually saving money because you weren’t going to buy it in the first place.
Sign Up for Rakuten.
If you use Amazon for Subscribe & Save items you should definitely sign up with Rakuten. I used it while I was Christmas shopping this past year and got $50 back. Every penny adds up, especially when you’re on a budget.
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