As the price of groceries rise higher and higher, many people are desperately trying to find ways to save on groceries. We have to eat, right?
Using coupons to save on the BIG grocery bills has helped many cut their bills into half, even walking out the store with free food (including produce and meat). However everyone is not hip to the idea of using coupons. I use coupons quite frequently, but they (coupons) will not work alone. The key is shopping the sale items and meal planning! Many people have never considered meal planning before, thinking that it requires too much work and time. If you are one of those people, you will want to keep reading! Meal planning is actually an excellent way to make sure dinner makes it on the table each night and you save money in the process. Meal planning does not have to be a full time job, nor does it have to cost you anything to do.
Below, you will find out how you too can be on your way to saving money with meal planning!
So why plan your meals? How many times have you found yourself not knowing what to make for dinner, so you run out and spend $30.00 on carry out? Or you end up zapping a quick frozen pizza and calling it a night? When you plan your meals you not only avoid the expensive carry out trap, but you can be sure to have a tasty meal on the table each night!
Want to get started? Here’s how!
1. Take an inventory.
To figure out what ingredients you need, you need to first know what you have. Make a simple inventory of the staple items you have such as seasonings, rice, flour, noodles, sugar, canned goods and meats. These are your items you will tend to use the most so you will want to know what you have. A simple list on paper is perfect!
2. Go shopping.
Fill in any gaps on your inventory. Stock up on these staple items and the items you know your family will eat and eat often. Of course, use coupons, price match, and shop sales so you get these staples at a great price.
3. Start brain storming.
Jot down notes on paper about the recipes you want to try, the quantity you want to plan, and the ingredients you will be using. Start slow, planning 2-3 meals for the week and then work your way up as you get more comfortable. You can bring the family in on this process if you wish to get their feedback and make it a family effort!
4. Time to plan!
Using a basic calendar, start planning your menu. Plan meals using the staples you have and supplement them by adding fresh ingredients such as produce, breads, and dairy items. Choose a main dish, a vegetable, and one additional side such as a starch. Keep it easy in the beginning, choosing no more than three items for each meal.
5. Now go for it!
Once you have your menu set, you can prep items when you have the chance. For example, set aside an hour or two on Sunday to prep meals for the week. This can mean baking chicken for a chicken salad, chopping veggies, or cooking rice. This way when it is time to do that recipe, you will have items ready to go! You can even go ahead and create the dishes if you would like and freeze them for later. The simpler you can make the process, the easier it will be to stick to.
Meal planning is a great way to feel more organized and save money in the process. Hopefully, these five steps will show you how easy it is to be on your way to saving money with meal planning, as well as saving time! Forget cold and unhealthy carry out dinners, or last minute frozen pizza meals. Instead, follow these meal planning tips and get a great dinner on the table each night!