I have crunched the numbers and I found that I am saving over 50% on groceries compared to how much I spend on a “quick trip” without pre-planning.
So how does one go through the process of planning meals? This is really a personal decision and is based on two factors.
The first is how much time you have. If you work 6 days a week your options are limited on how much time you have for planning. If you work from home you may have some flexibility to your schedule and can work planning into your schedule where you see fit.
The second factor is how far in advance you like to plan. This may take some trial and error to find your personal sweet spot. Some folks prefer to get the whole month ahead planned out while others can barely decide on a week’s worth of dinners at once.
Start with a plan that is similar to how you shop now. If you go shopping every Saturday, stick with that routine. If, however, you have always wanted to try once-a-month menus- go for it!
Next, there are options on how to best choose your meals while trying to save cash. At my house, I do not use many coupons because I don’t have time to find them. I do base my meals on the sales cycles and plan my trips accordingly.
Eating real food on a budget can be tricky, but I find that if I skim the ads for both Kroger and Aldi, one usually has the best deals that week. I then make my list off of the best deals on meat and produce.
After writing down the items that I want from the sales, I look at my list to see how to make it complete. Are the sale items something that makes 21 well-rounded meals? If not, what do I have stocked already and what do I need to add to the list?
I then write down my meals. Breakfasts and lunches around here consist of pretty similar items (eggs with fruit and salads or leftovers) so I usually only worry about planning dinners.
The big factor now is what your week looks like for making your chosen meals. If, like me, you don’t get off until 8 o’clock 4 nights a week- these are great nights to utilize a slow cooker meal. On days where you get off early or have the day off you can make something a little more hands on.
Now, write it all down on your display of choice: list on the fridge, wall calendar, something gorgeous and DIY from Pinterest, whatever. Just make sure it’s visible so you remember the plan and don’t forget to thaw the pot roast!