These 10 Tips Will Save You Money and Sanity!


Can you believe the month is over half over? How many of you are still sticking strong to your New Year's resolutions;) ? I feel we've been doing pretty good;). One habit that definitely takes time but is well worth the effort is meal planning. My husband and I were just talking the other night about how far my skills in the kitchen have come from when we first began our journey together. Specifically, we were talking about my ability to really stretch our grocery budget- and one of the biggest ways I do that is through meal planning.

Many of you are probably not new to this, but for those that are, and even for you veterans, here are a few tricks that can help meal planning be a little less daunting.

*Meal plan around sales. This is definitely a way to make your dollars stretch farther. Look through ads and see what produce/meats are on sale for the week. Base your meal plan on those items to save a whole lot of money!

*Set a regular time every week. I find that when I have a set time to do meal planning, it's a lot of more likely to happen! I have a weekly cleaning schedule, and one of my to-do items I put on my calendar instead of cleaning is to price match and meal plan. When I don't stick to my schedule, I find that meal planning is much less likely to happen.

*Ask your family for votes;). So this may seem contradictory with meal planning around sales, but ask your family what meals they would like to see on the menu. You might not be able to fit everyone's "orders" in that week, but you can make sure that you are getting to everyone's favorite dishes sooner than never;).

*Use Cook'n! Cook'n is a fabulous tool to help you with meal planning. Browse through your recipes and create your very own meal plan- I love that the grocery list is already made up for you as well. Seriously, could meal planning get any easier??

*Have a meal planning notebook. One problem I found that I ran into frequently was that I would lose my meal planning list! It's hard to stick to a meal plan that you can't find;). To avoid this, buy a cute notebook where you always write down your meal plans (and price matching lists;) ). (Or use Cook'n;)!!)

*Have a meal planning board. You could also use a dry erase board or chalkboard that hangs in your kitchen to write down the weekly menu. That way everyone can see it and there's never the "What's for dinner" question;). If you ever need to switch the menu up, just erase and replace;).

*Don't overplan. One problem I found myself getting into frequently when I first started meal planning was that I tended to plan more meals than we could get through. I forgot to take into account Sunday dinners with family, date nights, birthdays, and other special occasions. Not to mention- leftovers! So definitely leave some flexibility in your calendar. Look up important occasions beforehand, and leave at least one night a week open for leftovers;).

*Don't forget to plan ALL meals. Sometimes I would forget about breakfast and lunch because I would be too excited for my dinner meal plan! Remember to buy food for breakfast and lunch, even if you don't specifically plan out those meals. It's ok to take baby steps;). And definitely use Cook'n to help you with this! There is a place to plan EVERY meal- so forgetting will be a lot harder to do;).

*Think of your shopping habits. I used to only plan meals for one week- but soon realized I had to go to the grocery store every week unless we just wanted to eat canned foods. I now plan for about two week's worth of meals. This also requires a little planning with my food items. I have to make sure I am storing my produce properly to make it last as long as possible. I also plan on using more perishable items first (use lettuce before carrots, bananas before apples, etc). Think of how often you realistically want to go to the store, and go from there.

*Start simple! A much easier way to begin with meal planning is to start with a theme every night. For example- Mexican food Monday, Soup Tuesday, Crock pot Wednesday, etc. This will help you have a place to start if you're not even sure where to begin.

Do you use a meal plan? What tips do you have to add to this list? Share in the comments below!

Sources:
  •   http://www.designmom.com/2013/01/12-secrets-to-planning-menus/
  •   http://weightwise.com/weekly-meal-plan-12/

    Camille Hoffmann
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
    Email the author! camille@dvo.com


blog comments powered by Disqus