Groceries are expensive. We know this. But with a little strategizing, you don’t have to sell the farm to pay for your food. In fact, over the course of a year, meal planning can save you thousands of dollars.
When most people hear about saving money on groceries, the first word they think of is “coupons.” And for some of you, just the sight or the sound of that word will make you groan. But, just like meal planning, couponing doesn’t have to be laborious. Planning a week of dinners is easier and faster with online meal planning tools like on Say Mmm. The same goes for coupon clipping. Online coupon sites allow you to be the speediest coupon clipper in town. And these websites prevent you from having to scour through several Sunday papers. You can actually search the product, or category, for which you need a coupon, and then you can print your coupons out.
So, once you have your stack of coupons, you can plan your meals around them. Instead of starting with the meal plan, and then making a grocery list, you can do it the other way around. Make the grocery list based on what will save you money, and then create your meal plan from your grocery list. The end result will be the same: You will be more organized, more efficient, and wealthier thanks to meal planning.
And don’t forget to plan around local sales. (For this, you might benefit from scanning those sales fliers that land in your mailbox.) Rarely will you find coupons for fresh produce and meat, but these items frequently go on sale. So keep these sales in mind when you are planning your meals. Are chicken thighs on sale this week? Well then that takes care of Tuesday, doesn’t it?
Meal planning also prevents impromptu trips to the local fast food restaurant. If you stick to your meal plan, you will never have to order that panic pizza. And on the way home from the daycare, you won’t need to consider the temptation of a burger from the drive-thru, because you know you have a tasty meal ready to go at home. Avoiding fast food altogether will save you hundreds of dollars each year, and meal planning is the best way to protect yourself from the fast food temptation.
Not only is fast food expensive, it is also unhealthy. A bucket of fried chicken with a side of coleslaw might excite your children, but their pediatrician wouldn’t approve. Home cooked meals are healthier and will keep your family healthier. And nothing saves money more efficiently than a lack of medical bills.
Meal planning also prevents food waste. If you only buy food that you know you will eat, then you won’t end up throwing away those avocadoes you forgot to use. Your meal plan is easily transferred to a grocery list, a grocery list that doesn’t contain any extra items. You will only come home with those things you actually intend to eat!
Unless you live within walking distance of a grocery store, you probably have to spend a little bit of money to get there. Whether its cab fare, or bus fare, or gasoline plus the wear and tear on your vehicle, travel isn’t free. Planning ahead prevents you from having to make those extra dashes to the grocery store.
So, spend a little bit of time online and set your inner penny-pincher free. Then you can be one of those people at the soccer game bragging about how much money you saved at the grocery store