So I have heard and read so many times that you can save money on grocery shopping by sticking to a meal plan. But I never really truly put it to use until this week and I am shocked by how much less I spent.
Before heading out to the grocery store, I made a meal plan for a week, which will be reused for the whole month of January. I think this really makes meal prepping and grocery shopping pretty easy and straightforward. I buy multiple of these items to last me for a month.
Before I tried this method, I usually just made a list of food items that needed to be replenished and go with the flow, and try to be creative during the week. As you can already guess, I buy many items that do not get used because I didn’t have a plan to use them. I have items such as coconut milk, boxes of couscous, stir fry sauce, lasagna pasta and more in my pantry that I have not used for a while. It’s okay to have a few extra items in the pantry, but they tend to expire when you don’t have a plan to use it. Talk about throwing money in the trash!
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WHAT I LEARNED FROM GOING GROCERY SHOPPING WITH A MEAL PLAN
- BETTER FOCUS/CONFIDENCE
Having a list associated with a weekly meal plan while shopping gave me the confidence to say no to items that were not needed. Do you find yourself picking up things just in case? I saw SOME items and thought “I could incorporate that into the meal or I could make a casserole with?” (my old way of thinking). But GUESS WHAT? I kept it moving, and confidently thought “Nope, I don’t need that!”
- YOU SAVE TIME!
When you don’t have a list, you are more likely to go from aisle to aisle or walk from one end of the store to the other aimlessly, thinking…what else do I need or what else can I use? Also, the less time you spend in the store, the more money to leave in your pocket.
- YOU SAVE MONEY, OF COURSE!
You end up buying exactly what you need and nothing more! Yes, you will probably have to return to the store maybe once a week or once in two weeks to pick up fresh veggies and fruits. Make sure you have a list. I was so surprised that I didn’t have a cart full of junk/unnecessary items. Plus, I only spent two-thirds of the usual.
- EAT LESS JUNK/HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
When you plan for meals ahead, it reduces the chances of buying junk or fast foods. Planning meals also helps you to cut down on meal prep. For example, if you plan to eat chicken as your protein choice on Monday and Thursday, you can cook all the chicken you need both days on Monday to reduce prep time on Thursday. Prepping ahead helps to save money on items such as diced veggies, chopped meats, and frozen items.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SAVE MORE MONEY ON GROCERY SHOPPING?
- MAKE A MEAL PLAN
Making a meal plan is so easy! The quick and dirty method is to list out the days of the week and what you plan to eat for dinner on those days. If you want to be more fancy you can buy a meal planner book (and you thought planners were only for actual activities and to-do lists!). I would recommend Jessica Levinson’s meal planner book because you get more than just the planner and she is a registered dietitian. Her planner book is a 52-week planner and includes resources such “Best Practices for Balancing Meals”, Meal Prep Hacks, a Seasonal Produce Guide.” I love love love that this meal prep book comes with these bonuses. Do you know what a seasonal produce guide can do for you? Save you from buying a small carton of strawberries for $6.99 in January – because it’s out of season. Check out other planner book options here.
- DISCOVER NEW RECIPES
If you’re like me, you easily get tired of eating the same thing over and over and over again? Or sound like my kids….we just ate that the other day! You can spice things up in your meal planning by discovering new recipes. There are so many recipes out there and you just have to find the ones you like and those convenient for your lifestyle. Get ideas from Dinner: Changing the Game and The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook Don’t want to hard copy books, check out the Kindle versions!
- SET ASIDE MEAL PLANNING TIME
If you fail to make a meal plan, you will waste time and money. When hunger strikes, you will rush out to the grocery store and buy random food items. Plan to make a meal plan and buy in bulk on the first of every month or the last Friday of every month and put it on your calendar as a to-do. Set several reminder if you need to. It’ll save you money and time in the long run.