Is meal planning a part of your life, or something you are want to get started with? It’s one of the best ways to cook more meals, save money and save time. Today I’m going to share my process for meal planning and grocery shopping.
When I first moved out on my own and started cooking for myself, I developed my own meal planning system to save money. Honestly, I didn’t stick with it very well over the past year or two.
Andrew and I cook dinner at his house most nights of the week, but we don’t have much space for storing groceries. I also didn’t do a great job of planning ahead, so I would just grocery shop every time I cooked. This is a sure way to spend way too much money!
About a month ago we got engaged and have been planning our wedding. We are trying to save as much as we can during our engagement, so we started a budget together. I knew that we would save way more money if I planned our meals for the week and just went to the store once.
I have a 4-step process that I go through each week to plan our meals and grocery shop.
Step 1: Know how many meals you need to plan for.
Don’t skip this step! Having a general idea of how many meals you need to buy groceries for is important. If you don’t do this, you might buy too much and have to throw away something that goes bad, or you might not get enough and you’ll have to take another trip to the store.
Every week looks different for us, but I can usually plan on around 5 meals. To help with changes in our schedule, I make sure to keep the ingredients for some of our favorite meals in the house to throw together.
Step 2: Check out the store ads and coupons.
I check what meats are on sale first and try to plan some of my meals according to that. I also watch for items we use often, like boneless chicken or bacon, to go on sale so I can buy extra.
Most weeks I try to do most of my shopping at one store, so I choose the one with the best sales on items we like. If I have the time, I might stop by another store if they have a really good deal.
Step 3: Plan your meals.
You will probably have already planned a couple thanks to seeing what was on sale at the store. Fill out the rest of the week, and don’t forget to think about breakfasts, lunches and snacks.
When I first started meal planning, I wrote down every single meal I knew how to make. I really need to update this list soon! It’s partially in my head, partially on the blog and partially on Pinterest. Having a list makes it easier to sit down a pick out meals for the week.
As you pick your meals, make a list of what you need from the store. Try to plan some meals that use items you already have in the house to save more money!
Step 4: Do your shopping (on the same day every week!).
Try your best to have a set day to go grocery shopping. Getting on a schedule will help you stay organized and stick to your meal plan.
Having a shopping list will keep you on track and help you avoid impulse purchases. When I don’t have a list, I end up getting a bunch of things I don’t really need.
Do you meal plan? Share your tips in the comments!