If you struggle with planning meals, then you need to rethink your meal plan. I used to struggle as well, until I sat down and put together a smarter way to save on groceries by meal planning the right way.
4 Steps to Saving on Groceries with Meal Planning
My grocery bill used to be sky high. I was bad at doing coupons. In fact, I hated dinnertime because I always waited to last minute to figure out what to make. Most of the time, I would just end up running to the grocery store, which in turn ended up costing us more.
If this sounds similar to your situation, then it’s time to try menu planning! I’ve been doing this 4 step method for a while and I’ve found it to work perfect for our family and others that I’ve taught it to.
No matter what your budget or cooking skills, meal planning helps you prepare meals for the week, which in turn, gets you in and out of the kitchen quickly with no thought.
And the most important part: you won’t be surprised at the checkout.
This method is simple and it works really well. Your grocery bill is one of your bills that you can find ways to lower. This doesn’t mean starving your family in the process, or, to eat all beans and peanut butter. You have to be happy with the outcome, or like a strict diet, you will buckle and run to the nearest fast food place.
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
>To plan your grocery budget, you need to look at your family and your lifestyle. Families have crazy schedules these days. You and your spouse might work different shifts, or small children that have early schedules. You’ll need to sit down and figure out about how your lifestyle is and the way you eat:
- Are there any dietary restrictions or allergies, or some things that your family just won’t eat?
- What are your favorite foods?
- What are your favorite meals?
- Can you do leftover meals?
- What do you like to cook? What do you cook the best?
- Do you want to include eating out? (Yes, you can still eat out some days!)
- What time do you eat?
Once you’ve determined what you need to make your meals work, you can figure out what to plan for meals. Did you realize that you hate cooking? Learn how to make easy 15 minute meals-there are a ton on the internet. Here is one example.
I did my assessment and I realized that our lifestyle included eating at home Monday-Friday, eat out Saturdays for lunch and dinner and then something super easy on Sundays. My husband works on Sundays, so we also would be on our own for Sunday lunches.
Don’t worry that you need to make 4 course meals every night. You can also still have some nights that you box meal it (hamburger helper, etc.). Work at the pace you can handle. Don’t overwhelm yourself or cooking will become a chore instead of fun.
Step 2: Decide Your Set Meals
Now, that you know what food you want to eat, decide on a rotating menu. I have basically 14 meals that we all can agree on that I can rotate. If you can get a basic menu together, it makes it easier to stock up on ingredients and cheaper too. It doesn’t mean that you can’t throw in a new dish in there.
Just take one day of the week to try something new so nobody gets bored of the same thing. If you try new dishes every day, you might get overwhelmed. This way, you can learn how to cook a new recipe and see if it works to change out something in your basic weekly menu.
Keeping your menu a standard rotating meals plan helps with organization. This can also be useful for freezer cooking once you get the hang of it-anything to make cooking easier!
Step 3: Shop/Plan Around Grocery Savings Apps
One thing that helps me since I am so bad with coupons is using coupon apps. My favorite is ibotta (affiliate link). Have you heard of it yet? ibotta is a free mobile coupon and cash back shopping app for iPhones and Android phones. Shoppers have the opportunity to earn cash back on select products by performing easy tasks, purchasing the product, then providing proof of purchase.
I’ve made lots of money back from using it. The best part about about it is that there are even rebates for HEALTHY food like carrots, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, eggs, bread, etc., which is perfect for making your own meals instead of using coupons on processed expensive meals.
I’m not pushing it because I’m an affiliate-I would recommend it anyway!
What I do is go through ibotta when I do my meal planning to see what is on rebate for the week. This helps you get the maximum grocery savings you can, especially if you shop on a special discount day like I do (our store has Wellness Wednesdays). I also like to use my Target card and Cartwheel app to save even more-yes, I pay it off the same week.
After you see if there are any rebates you can benefit from without getting something you wouldn’t normally get, then do your meal planning (don’t forget to add in a new recipe to try) and then grocery list. There are some great grocery list worksheets you can print out on the Internet if you don’t like to use your phone. I personally like to write everything out because I have a hard time pushing the cart and balance my phone. lol
Step 4: Enlist Your Family
Have your family members help you with your meal planning adventure! This gives them a chance to voice their opinion as well when it comes to meals. By getting everyone on the same page you can hold each other accountable. Let them help with with cooking as well-have fun with it-and make it a family project!
What is your opinion about meal planning?