Saturday, April 26, 2014

Posted by jinson on 7:14 AM 39 comments


I used to think that meal planning is only for the "overly organized".  Since our food budget has tightened considerably, however, I have realized that meal planning, apart from saving you from the pre-dinner scramble to put together a meal on the fly, can help you save a considerable amount of money




1.  Planning Around Sales

     
     When you plan your meals for the week, use your sales papers from your favorite store(s).  If chicken is on sale, look around the ad to see what you could prepare to go with it to make a full meal.  If there is a better than average sale on something, buy enough to make a double batch of the meal, and freeze the extra portion to use as a filler in another week's plan.

2.  Avoid Over Spending in the Grocery Store 


     By planning ahead, you know exactly what groceries you need and how much you need to buy.  If you stick to the grocery list you make from your meal plan, you will not over buy. Also, since you have a plan for everything you buy, you won't end up with food that has ruined before you can use it, which will reduce your food waste considerably.  

3.  Use What you Have


     Everyone has weeks that are a little tighter than others.  For those weeks, make your meal plans from what you have on hand.  Go through the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator.  If you have any of the extra batches of pre-made dinners we talked about when planning around sales, then you can experience not only a lighter food bill that week but also an easier week in the kitchen as those frozen meals turn into delightful homemade convenience meals.  

4.  Plan a Weekly Leftover Night


     Plan on at least one leftover night per week.  I usually plan mine for after a pasta night.  That way, I can reheat the sauce, make fresh noodles, and have a leftover night that doesn't taste like a leftover night.  Busy nights make great leftover days.

5.  Eat Out Less Often


     If you have a plan for dinner each night you will be much less likely to make impromptu restaurant trips.  Before I started meal planning, it was very tempting to just load the kids into the car and go out to eat on those nights when I was having trouble deciding what to fix.  We have gone from eating out once a week to only once a month, saving around $75 per month.



     There are many methods you can use to keep up with your meal plans.  I started out using the notebook method, where you simply write out your plan for the week on a piece of notebook paper.  For me, this wasn't nearly ''official'' enough, and I found myself breaking plan more often than not.  There are many great printables around for free (check Pinterest) and they seemed to work  much better for me.  Recently though, I found a meal planner from CarrieElle.com that has everything I look or in a planner.  









Here is a picture of my new meal planner.  It has weekly planner pages with built in shopping list that can be torn off and a monthly planner.





39 comments:

  1. I never plan but I would like to start because I end up having to throw things out because they go bad.

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  2. You are very organized in terms of meal planning. This is a good attitude for mothers

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  3. Great advice! I really need to get better at this! :) Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Great advice and ideas. I will keep this in my favorites, Thank you.

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  5. I'm a huge fan of leftover night! I love the chance to try just a little bit of the best stuff we've had all week, especially when it's something like chili that just gets better as the flavors blend. Thanks for the tips :)

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  6. What a great post just filled with awesome ideas! When my kids were younger (all are grown and moved out now), we would do our own version of 'Chopped' and they would run down to the basement pantry and each pick an item that had to be included in dinner. Tons of fun! Thanks for the great article :)

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    1. Oh my goodness! I love that idea! I may have to start doing that once a week. My kids are nearly 2 and nearly 4, so that would be very interesting ;)

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  7. I meal plan every week. It saves me so much money and planning in the long run.

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  8. I love this! I use Sunday paper and coupons but not extreme just what I would need anyway. I also shop with shoppers cards and get extra coupons but haven't tried the meal planning! I love your organizer gotta get one of those.

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  9. Great tips, I always recommend my clients use a meal planning method so they can eat healthier on a budget!

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  10. People may not realize this but being single can make meal planning a nightmare! You are kind of forced to buy smaller portions and those are generally more expensive! When I make a chicken or cook up a package of chicken breasts it takes a good 3 to 4 days to use it up--or throw it out. I am very careful and only buy what I need and use coupons only for the items I will definitely use!

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    1. If you prepare meals that can be split into individual portions and frozen , then meal planning will be MUCH easier, and you will only have to cook about 1/4 of the time. The rest of the time will be just defrosting and reheating :)

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  11. that's something i need to get up to speed on a bit :D

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  12. I so need to be better about this, with 7 of us our grocery bill is crazy. I need to go back to clipping my coupons!

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  13. This is really sage advise on getting the most bang for our hard earned bucks; thanks for doing this post!

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  14. These are great tips Christy! I always plan my meals for the week but every time I go to the supermarket I seem to buy more than I have written on my shopping list :( I have to stop this now that things are going to change financially for my family

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  15. Really great advice. I use a meal planner to get things on budget around here. With so many people eating I have to keep track of everything or we would go broke. Thank you for sharing.

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  16. Thanks for the tips. I made a printable meal planner a couple of weeks ago and I've been trying to remember to use it. Its hard when I have so much other stuff going on!

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  17. I plan out my plans and it has saved me so much money combined with couponing and shopping fresh by season! I LOVE freezing cooking too! Such great tips in this post!

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  18. We always have leftover during dinner and that will be my food for lunch. We don't go out often to save more money because whenever we go out, chances are we also have to eat out.

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  19. I KNOW all this stuff, but that doesn't mean it's easy to put into practice. And it does take time and effort to do it. I've been trying to work on it more.

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    1. hmm. . . very valid point. It took me quite a while to get to a point where I could do this. Now it actually saves me time, if you count all the time I stood in front of the pantry or fridge, scratching my head, trying to figure out what was for dinner that night. What if I did a series about easing into meal planning? Would that be useful?

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  20. I Love All The Tips They All Sound Like Great Tips To Save!

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  22. I really need these tips for my meal planning because I am really on a tight budget . I know it will help.

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  23. I would be lost without meal planning!

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  24. Overspending in groceries is common as you tend to go on impulse once you see some cool items. It's best to keep a list and follow it.

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  25. No. 2 is the reason why I avoid supermarkets and grocery stores. When I see something that I like, I get it ... so meal planning at home is not really my thing & it's my Mom's turf. The kind of meal planning that I do is monitoring my calorie intake :)

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  26. We used to do it, and then stopped. Now we've started up again and it really does make a difference financially.

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  27. I keep saying I want to start planning our meals out. I need to get my hubby on board since he's the one who cooks!

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  28. Nice post... I usually try a meal out of leftover meal. Don't like wasting food :)

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  29. Very nice post. I need to start planning meals. Amber N

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  30. I really need to start planning meals, but with our busy routine, it's just so hard. Thanks for the tips!

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  31. Love these tips. I know meal planning has definitely helped save my family money!

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  32. Now that I'm back to work full time, I'm trying to mentally plan meals for the week--but it's hard to do when you choose what to buy based on local, organic or seasonal. I mostly buy what looks the freshest.

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  33. I agree that meal planning saves us money. I usually wrote down what I need to buy so I won't end up being an impulsive shopper. I usually cook 3 meals and put them in a containers and freeze and take it out when we needed to eat. Although eating out is convenient but its expensive lifestyle so we try to eat out less.

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  34. Leftover Night FTW! Though I try to make just enough, there's no leftovers, therefore everything is fresh and in case it doesn't get eaten, it doesn't get wasted.

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  35. Love your ideas shared here. Meal planning can save a lot of money and prevent waste!

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  36. Great tips! I tend to cook the same thing over and over again. Blogging is great because I get so many good ideas from the blogs I read.

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