Meal planning sounds intimidating. At first, I thought it meant combing through pages and pages of coupons, hours of back and forth trying to coordinate meals and even visiting multiple grocery stores in the same day. The problem is, we NEED food. The better the food, the more expensive it gets. Our grocery bill is a BIG chunk of our budget and we need to meal plan to save money. Saving money means more room for our goals.
This article is going to give you some easy steps to take, each and every week to maximize your dollars spent at the grocery store.
As a bonus, I’m going to share with you how to easily build your grocery list using an awesome app called eMeals and a potential hack that we use to take advantage of sales.
It’s good to start by getting organized. We eat 3 meals a day (typically) all 7 days a week. That’s 21 meals each and every week!
Start by creating a visual for yourself. Just use a piece of paper, turned sideways. Make a grid, three boxes high and 7 wide. These boxes represent three meals a day, seven days a week. Make room to write in the name of each meal you’re going to prepare.
Eliminate Meals You Don’t Need
Next, cross off those meals that you know you won’t need to prepare. You might have a weekly pizza night, trip to the parent’s or grandparent’s house or maybe you’re going out to lunch with some friends. This should eliminate at least a few meals from the start. If you don’t know exactly the day or the meal, don’t worry. It’s not an exact science.
Check the Inventory
Now, take a look at what you have left from the previous week. Check the pantry and your fridge. Look for rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables, cereal, etc. If you can make a full meal of it, cross off another meal or two.
Also, take note of these items so you can use them early on in the week. Why buy something when you already have it? A meal plan to save you money means don’t buy food you don’t need.
Leftover produce can also be easily thrown together to make soups, salads, omelettes or quiche. Add those to your grid.
Account for Leftovers
You’re going to be looking for meals that can feed your entire family. More likely than not, you’ll have leftovers.
Account for another 2-4 meals on your grid…at least. Not every meal needs to be perfectly paired with exactly the same sides. Mix and match and don’t waste anything.
Build Your Grocery List using eMeals
This is your first bonus. I told you that we use eMeals. Let me tell you a little about how this works…
What I love about this is how many options you have. When I say that you have a lot of options, I mean A LOT. Here are some examples of some of the meal plans to choose from…Clean Eating, Quick and Healthy, Low Carb, Vegan, Kid Friendly, Paleo, 30-Minute Meals, Slow Cooker, Mediterranean, Vegetarian Family of 4….and on and on. We obviously can save money with this…but it also helps my family to accomplish one of our goals of eating healthy.
We use one of the Family of 4 plan because it leaves us plenty of leftovers.
Each week, you get a list from your meal plan of choice. It’s easy to change and move between meal plans while you get used to what you and your family enjoy eating. You can also add a meal to your favorites to easily go back and plan for in the future.
When you choose a meal, check your list of items from your “inventory” to make sure you’re using it up. When you’re ready, you add the meal to the shopping list and every ingredient is automatically added to the list. You can very easily choose meals with similar ingredients to maximize each ingredient to it’s fullest…saving you more money. No guessing on what you need and how much of it.
I can’t recommend this app more. Click here for a 14-day free trial.
Maximize on Sales
This is a bonus that we learned specifically at our local grocery store. In our area, we have Publix. As all grocery stores do, they have a weekly sale. That’s nothing new.
What’s special about this, is that on Wednesdays, the sales overlap. So, on this particular day in the week, there are two weeks of sales going on. You don’t necessarily have to look to see what’s on sale, but it’s inevitable that SOMETHING on your grocery list will fall into one of these sales.
Check the website for your grocery store and pay attention to the sale dates. If there is an overlap the following week, that should now be the day you go grocery shopping.
This meal plan to save you money isn’t a major time consumer. It’s not complicated. It’s not digging through coupons and trying to buy things for less. It’s simply steps to take each week to make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew…literally. Wasting food is wasting money….and THAT directly impacts your ability to save for you goals.
Using eMeals makes it SO much easier. Give it a try and you’ll see how much faster it is to meal plan.
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About Matt & Brad
They are identical twins and money experts. Matt and Brad Ruttenberg have, combined, over 2 decades of experience as financial planners. They are known for simplifying money and helping others go from living paycheck to paycheck to thriving financially.
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