Do you want to save money on weekly groceries without eating processed food? It is possible. Meal planning to save money is the answer. Learn more here.
Every year, the average American spends around $7,000 on food, split between eating out at restaurants and cooking and eating at home. It sounds extraordinary. Meal planning to save money isn’t the only reason you should try it, but also to save time and help you manage your weight through thoughtful eating! In this article, we’ll explore you how to start your meal planning journey.
What Is Meal Planning?
This strategy is a way of deciding in advance what you’ll eat every day of the upcoming week or even month. Meal planning is a method used by weight lifters or professional athletes to ensure they get the right balance of nutrients. But, it can be used by everyone to help save money, lose weight, and reduce food waste. Americans lead the world in food waste and we should all be doing our bit to fix this. By making a plan, you then strategically buy only the food you’ll need. You may even choose to batch cook your meals and freeze them. You’ll free up a lot of time by meal planning and batch cooking. Better yet, takeaway looks less appealing when you know you’ve got a something delicious like homemade curry or a yummy chili waiting at home!
Tips for Meal Planning
There are many ways to meal plan. You may like to plan just your main meal or even eat the same main meal for a week. Or, you may want to plan everything from your snacks to your lunch. There is no one specific way to make a meal plan – it’s personal to you and your needs! But, we’ll give you some useful tips to make the process easier.
1. Check Your Pantry First
Before you start flicking through cookbooks or making a list of food you need to buy, have a look through your cupboards first. Check the use-by dates to find out if there is anything that needs using up soon. Then, incorporate these items into your weekly meal plan. It’s easy to find recipes by Googling just a few ingredients. Why not create an ongoing list of non-perishable foods in your cupboards and freezer so that you remember to use them?
2. Meal Plan After You’ve Eaten
It’s a good idea to have a specific time or day that you meal plan. Perhaps you sit down and look through recipe books after your Sunday meal in the lull of the day. Planning while you’re not hungry, you’re much more likely to make healthier choices. The same goes for shopping for food. Try to choose a time of day which is less busy to do your shopping and don’t pick up anything that’s not on your planned list.
3. Find Your Favorite Grocery Store
When you have the fine art of meal planning down, you simply won’t find yourself rushing into the grocery store after work and grabbing the first thing you see! Look for a store with great reward points that add up to real savings. It may require one trip per week or month, but the savings you’ll accrue will be huge. Not to mention the savings in gas! Furthermore, keep your eyes peeled for useful coupons that you can build a meal plan around! Check out the Kroger Weekly Ad for more useful tips.
4. Plan Enough Food for Every Meal
Don’t go into meal planning with a diet mindset. This isn’t something you want to do for a short time and then stop. So, in your first few weeks, don’t try to restrict your food intake, just plan for it in advance. Try to swap less-healthy options for better alternatives.
Maybe you have a kid that always eats mac and cheese at a restaurant? Why not learn how to make it at home? Once you perfect your recipe over a few weeks, you’ll never be able to eat it out again! Swap diet soda for sparkling water and add a spritz of lemon or lime juice and few slices of fruit or mint leaves. Swap to whole wheat or gluten-free pasta and rice which has huge health benefits! Small changes will make a huge difference to your waistline and as you notice the changes, you’ll be more encouraged to continue. Don’t use meal planning as a way to restrict yourself. Life is for the living and the pleasure of eating is a big part of that. Choose well for yourself.
5. Make a Monthly Budget for Meal Planning to Save Money
If you’re meal planning in order to save money, then making a strict budget will help you do this. You’ll need to implement your creative and resourceful shopping skills. You may need to swap out expensive choices such as different cuts of meat for alternative others or choose other healthy options such as beans and lentils. You may implement a meatless Monday. Not only will this help your wallet, but it will also make you appreciate the times when you do eat meat. Better yet, you’ll be doing your bit for the planet as we now know that the best way to reduce climate change is to reduce our intake of dairy and meat.
6. Keep Your Initial Meal Planning Simple
If you’re not an avid cook, then keep your meals simple. Batch cook a recipe that you have already tried and liked before. Want to use this opportunity to improve your cooking skills? Sure go for it, but life lessons have taught me to opt for recipes that look appealing and have only a few ingredients and steps. Over time, you’ll boost your abilities and find that you can cook the most complicated recipes with ease. This is also a great time to let the kids help with the meal planning and prep. They learn to cook and gain an appreciation for the meal making and consumption process.
Go Ahead and Start Your Meal Planning Journey Today
The sooner you start meal planning, the faster your life will change! Not only will you notice that you have more money at the end of the month, but you’ll have a few spare hours too.
Want more tips on balancing life, money and having fun, check out our other articles here.