Creating a Meal Plan

Ok, you want to save money every month on your food bill? Here’s how we do it.

First, look through what you already have. Take inventory of everything, your pantry, freezer, fridge. If you’re a super organized person, you can make the list in categories, like protein, veggies, grains, etc. Write it down, plan your menu as far ahead as you can based upon your current supply.

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Then, figure out your monthly budget. I know it’s not fun, but it’s essential. When you know what you have to spend on food, you can then go to the next step.

Look at the sales. Find coupons if you have the patience to do so. We look at the weekly ads of our grocers and plan accordingly. Some coupon sites you could explore are coupons.com, and myprintablecoupons.com, which is actually an extension you can add to your browser.

Once you’ve seen what’s on sale and figured out what you could use, tackle your shopping if you need more than what’s already in your pantry and supply. Get only what you need, if you have money left over, go ahead and splurge a tiny bit, or you can save it for later expenses.

After you’ve restocked your food and there’s still room on the menu for the month, finish the menu. We plan our suppers for the month, because usually we have just enough leftovers for lunches or we have what we need to figure out a lunch every day. Most people are eating on the go during the day, so plan according to your specific schedule.

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Now, if this seems overwhelming to you at first, start very simple. Try planning a week’s worth of meals. They don’t have to be fancy, just whatever you have handy or can afford. Remember, this is to save you money, not break your wallet.

Once you’re in the habit of planning a week ahead, add on another week. When we started out doing this, we did 2 weeks worth, as that was the extent of our budget at the time. Then, as time went on and we were able to save and plan even further, we extended it to a month.

One thing that really helped us was a couple years ago, we were able to use our tax refund to invest in a deep freezer we put in our kitchen. It has long since paid for itself. Obviously, not everyone has that capability, and if you don’t, do not let it stress you out. If you take the time to plan your budget and supplies, you could still pull off a smaller version of this method with the freezer attached to your fridge. It’s all in how you plan everything.

So, once we got our freezer, we then took a bit of our funds and loaded up on many frozen goods we know we use all the time. It seriously saved our wallets.

We also found a white board calendar at a rummage sale that we snatched up immediately. As soon as we have our monthly food budget figured out, we inventory and plan our menu accordingly. Sometimes we get 3 weeks and know we have more funds coming and wait until we can get more food supply and then finish the menu.

There really is no one set method to do this. It’s quite easy to customize to whatever your schedule and needs are. Plan according to your routine and dietary needs. This will save you a lot of stress as you don’t have to fit your meal plan to someone else’s. We all have different needs.

My advice is that if you’re very new to the idea of meal planning, start out planning one week. Then, as you get more comfortable, plan further and further. You don’t have to stop at just a month, either! Plan as far ahead as you can manage, we do a month as that’s feasible for our current budget.

Use what you need to write out your inventory, figure out your budget, and go from there. Either draw out a calendar or buy one, even a dollar store calendar will work fine, whichever suits you. Keep track of sales in your area, they will save your life!

So! Look at what you have already, plan your meals based on your supply. Figure out your budget, look up sales and get the rest of what you need to start your meal planning journey. It really will save you so much on your finances in the long run!