How To Meal Plan
At the end of each month, I create a meal plan calendar for the following month. I’ll include the recipes as well a shopping list. The shopping list will include everything you will need to make all of the recipes. You probably don’t need everything on the list because hopefully you already have some of the items on-hand! The recipes I use are the ones I know my family will eat. If there is something you don’t like, change it! Personalize it for your family. Each meal plan will be different for each person depending on preferences, what you already have in your kitchen, and where you live but hopefully, this will give you a good starting point.
At the end of the month, I plan out the dinner meals for the entire following month. I plan for cooking 4-5 meals a week and the other days we eat leftovers. Once I create my meal plan, I make a shopping list of all of the ingredients I need to make each recipe.
I then use the current grocery ads and find the best prices for items I need and write them down. Then it’s time for a huge shopping trip! (If there are multiple items at a better price than Wal-Mart, I will consider making an additional stop at another store). I take that list to Wal-mart and figure out which brand is cheaper/better. The first time I did this, it was a huge shocker because at the register, instead of my usual $20 for a few items the total was $96??* But guess what? I didn’t have to shop the rest of the month!
*This price was our entire grocery bill for the family for the month, which at the time we had two children and could price match at Wal-Mart.
Before monthly meal planning, I used to make sure to clip any coupons I could get my hands on. Well, there is one thing that you need to know about coupons, their purpose is to get you into the store. And sure enough, the more I was in the store, the more I spent. Coupons work kind of like rewards on credit cards. They make you feel like you are saving money by spending money. Don’t worry, if there is something I need and I know how to get a quick and easy coupon, I will use it. I just have come to realize that there is little purpose in spending hours searching for coupons, especially knowing that regular couponing causes me to spend more money in the long run.
How Does Meal Planning Save Time and Money?
When I first started, my goal each month was to keep my grocery costs to $100. And guess what, for most months I did. For some of you that might seem almost impossible to believe, but it is the honest truth. Obviously, that has changed quite a bit as my family has grown, but the savings are still incredible. With having a meal plan ready, the default of going and picking up prepared food is also eliminated, saving you even more money.
If you do follow the basic premise of this blog (monthly meal planning, find the best prices, and trying to do the majority of your shopping once a month) you WILL save money. Additionally, you will always know the answer to the question “What’s for dinner?” (Seriously, I used to HATE that question. It was the bane of my homemaking experience!) Plus you’ll have the added comfort of knowing that no matter what happens, you have enough food in your home to eat really well for at least one month. That brings me great peace of mind and I love that!