Money Saving Monday- MEAL PLANNING 101

Money Saving Monday-Meal planning saves you money

Be sure and check back every Monday for money saving tips for your family

Now don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to plan out your meals for a whole year, month or even week. But coming up with some type of meal plan will save you lots of money I promise. I started meal planning several months after we were married, and even though we were not eating out meal planning just 3 days in advance saved us an average of $20/ month in grocery’s. That is $240 a year!

I have found that the farther out I meal plan the more money I save. It also relieves alot of stress to not always be thinking, what’s for dinner?

Here are my top 5 reasons for meal planning

1-cutting down shopping trips saves gas, time and money (less likely to make last minute purchases

2-relieves day to day stress

3- less likely to go out or get take out if you know what’s for dinner at home

4- you eat healthier when you can plan in advance

5-can save up to $80 + dollars a month!

Here are some great tips for meal planning:

1- Start keeping your favorite recipes on your computer.

You can keep them just in a WORD document, or you can download recipe software (I have been very pleased with this free software). The advantage to having your recipes on your computer is you can easily print out a shopping list. With Recipe Center 5.0 (the free software I use) I can load as many recipes as I want and it will print me out a shopping list. This makes shopping very easy and I don’t have to sit down and think, what should we have? I just pull from our favorite recipes, and then try a few new ones. If I like a new recipe I add it to our database. You can do the same thing with a WORD document, just cut and paste the ingredients from your favorite recipes for an instant shopping list. I have found it to be very helpful.

2. Be flexible

Meal planning is great because it means you have on hand what you need to create a certain number of recipes, but if you don’t feel like Spagetti on Monday, no problem, take something else from further down the week and eat that instead. It gives you more freedom, not less.

3. Start Small

If you have never meal planned before start small. Try planning just one week at a time. You want to be successful! If that is going well and you feel like a challenge try planning two weeks at a time (I have found on average for every week I plan in advance I save about $20…plus added time…this means if I plan 2 weeks in advance I save on average $40/month on groceries, 3 week $60 and I save almost $80/ month if I plan the whole month in advance)

4. Get organized

On your calender don’t just write what you are eating that day, write any prep that needs to be done the day before (for example defrost this meet, or pre-soak beans, or if you know it will be a busy day, pre-cook ground beef) then you can antipate the time you will need to complete the recipe

If you want to try monthly meal planning…

Create a calender in a word document (email me if you want my copy, or leave a comment below)

On the calender for each day write down what you are having and what you need to do for the next day. Be sure and have a few “leftover days” to challenge your creativity! If you cannot fill in the whole calender because you run out of ideas don’t worry, start small and as you think of things add them in. I find it helpful to fill it out throughout the month. If we eat something I really like I add it to next months calender, or if I hear of a good recipe I want to try etc..

Create a shopping list

I find it helpful to create a list of non-perishable items that I need, and then seperate lists for each week for produce (things that won’t save). This allows me to do one big grocery run at the beginning of the month to our cheapest grocery store (WINCO) for bulk and perishable items I don’t have stockpiled or on hand. Then each weak I run to the local produce store which has amazing deals to get my fresh produce and perishables. I find it helpful to do it this way because I can literally on the whim re-arrange the entire month if I need to because I basically have everything on hand all month to cook 30 meals.

Inventory your kitchen / pantries

Before your run to the store go through and make sure you don’t already have the items. If you do, just cross them off the list (good stockpiling!)

Below you can see a very small version of my meal plan for february (click to see it larger) , if you need to see a bigger version just email me. Happy planning and please share your tips below!

If you can freeze some meals

Making double of a meal takes only about 10 minutes longer (on average) and then you have an “instant meal” for later on, if you have the freezer space!

february-meal-planning

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