Are you trying to save more money on groceries? Eliminate extra shopping trips and dining-out expenses by creating a weekly meal plan.
The best way to save money when grocery shopping is to have a shopping list. Use this family meal planning guide to create a weekly list of meals and groceries.
Make a Meal Planning Menu
Before making a grocery list, make a meal planning menu with ideas for each meal of the day—for example, list cereal, oatmeal, and other ideas under the heading for breakfast. Do the same for lunch ideas and dinner meals—plan on saving the meal planning menu and add more ideas over time.
Make a Weekly Meal Plan
Next, decide how many days of meals are needed until going grocery shopping again or until payday. Make a list of the days with enough room to write breakfast, lunch, and dinner down for each day. These spaces will be filled in using the meal planning menu.
Meal Plans for Breakfast and Lunch
Consider which days will be busy and need a fast dinner or a restaurant meal when making meal plans for dinners. Write “dinner out” on the days when the family will dine out. On busy nights at home, choose to cook a fast meal, use leftovers, or start the day with dinner in the crockpot. Weekends may be the perfect time to make a more involved meal that will provide leftovers for later in the week. Don’t forget to look in the freezer for items that can be used to make meals that save money.
For breakfast, there may be several days when the meal plan is repeated. Some children like to eat cereal for breakfast every day. Writing that on the weekly meal plan will ensure that there is enough cereal in the house when the grocery shopping is completed. If the family likes a big breakfast or brunch on the weekend, plan that on the weekly meal plan.
Lunch can be the trickiest meal to plan since family members go in different directions during the day. To save money, however, it is important to keep unplanned lunch purchases from breaking the bank. For families that pack lunches, try to make them as similar as possible on any given day. For example, everyone may have pretzels and apples with their choice of sandwich one day. Use small leftover portions for adult lunches or for children at home. Plan a few different lunch choices over the course of the week for variety.
Make the Grocery Shopping List
Now that the weekly meal plan is completed add all the ingredients for all the meals to the grocery list. Depending on the size of the family, add two or three choices of snacks, fruits, and beverages. Add any staples and paper products that need to be purchased. Everything that the family needs for the week will now be in the house.
Easy Meal Planning is Flexible
Although the meal list is broken down into meals and days of the week, there is flexibility. It is not necessary to cook the designated dinner on the designated day. On days when plans change, simply choose a different meal from the list. The goal is to have food for meals in the home. Meal planning saves money because there is no need to dine out unexpectedly.
Making a weekly meal plan gets easier over time and can be one of the best ways to save money on groceries. Using a weekly meal plan helps to eliminate unnecessary food purchases and costly trips to the grocery store for a single item. Combine meal planning with budget shopping tips for extra savings.