Meal Planning Made Easy – 5 Easy Steps
I have been keeping track of our expenses for the last few months using my printable worksheets. It is great seeing where all the money goes but also a big eye opener on how much money we are actually spending (wasting).
One of our biggest expense is food, this includes groceries and dining out. We have consistently spent about $1,300 each month. We are not a large family and knowing that other families only spend about $500 – 700 on food each month, our grocery budget needs to be at least cut in half!
I know there are certain factors that led to the high spending. My husband and I are both working full time, often stopping at the grocery store after work to pick something up for Dinner. Because we didn’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking once we got home, we usually pick up something that was already prepared or just needed to go in the oven. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks! We are eating out a lot on the weekend or before/after our son’s Hockey practice during the week.
Next month I will try to cut our grocery budget to $700. That would be about $600 dollars in savings!!! Wow!!! That is a big motivation to plan my meals ahead!
Step 1: Download printable meal plan layout
I believe the best way is to plan your meals ahead for the next week or even month if you like. This shouldn’t just include dinner but also breakfast, lunch and snacks. You can download a free printable layout here that will help you plan. I will be using it for my meal plan this week. You can download the file here -> weekly meal plan
My meal plan starts on a Monday because I usually do my planning and grocery shopping on the Sunday before. If you would like to start your meal plan on a different day (many people start their week on a Sunday) let me know in the comments and I’ll upload another version of the file.
Step 2: View local flyers for great savings
A good idea is to look at your local grocery flyers for items that are on sale and plan your meals around these ingredients. For example, if ground beef is on sale maybe have Spaghetti, Chili and Hamburgers that week.
Step 3: Write down meals for the week
Now it’s time to write down all your meals in the meal plan. As you write down the meals I would also write down all the ingredients for each recipe on a separate sheet and use it later as your grocery list. That way you won’t forget anything. You can download a printable copy of the shopping list here ->grocery shopping list
Step 4: Keep favorite recipes
There are some recipes you might make more often than others. For these recipes I have a separate binder that I keep in my kitchen cabinets. I will post some of my favorite recipes in a separate post in the future. You can find the recipe printable file here -> recipes
Step 5: Cook ahead if you have the time
If you have extra time during the week or on the weekend, you can cook some of your meals ahead or prepare all the ingredients so when it’s time to cook you are not busy washing, cutting and mixing everything.
Another idea might be to keep a log of frequent products that you buy and prices throughout the year or just the regular price and sale price. That way you can see if the “sale price” is a good deal or not and if there have been better sales before. I have seen items that had a great big sale sign and when you looked closer it was only 2 cents off the regular price. That was for a $2 item. Many people would just see the big sign and grab two or more items because they are on sale.
On your recipe sheet you could write down the estimate price of the ingredient and calculate the estimate cost per serving. I know it seems like a lot of work but just focus on main ingredients.
Let me know if you have any other ideas