Planning your meals takes time – don’t start while you’re at the grocery store! Set yourself, and your stomach, up for success by planning ahead.
Did you know that an average family of four with children ages 4-11 is spending, on average, almost $800 on groceries? That’s crazy! It’s no secret that there’s marketing and mind games behind how grocery stores are designed, but that doesn’t mean we have to fall prey to them. There are several things you can be doing to ensure you stay on budget and succeed with every meal you cook this week.
Shop your pantry, fridge and freezer first.
At the end of the week, my fridge looks like a ghost town. And that’s the point! An empty fridge means I’m using up every last drop of milk and every last bite of produce before buying more and letting what I have go to waste. When something in our fridge goes bad, we don’t just throw it away. We throw money away. So knowing how to intentionally use every ingredient is important in the kitchen.
So when you’re creating your weekly meal plan, make an inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Use those items first, and supplement with what you don’t have from the grocery store.
Plan your meals around what you have going on.
On Sundays, I know I don’t have time to prepare a sufficient lunch, so we always have leftovers. It’s never a surprise. I apply the same forethought to dinners when I know we have a lot of errands to run on a particular day. Instead of trying to rush home to make a meal and two side dishes, I plan to have a crock pot meal.
If you and your spouse can create a game plan at the beginning of each week, you can take the facets of that plan and apply them to what you’ll be eating that week. Not only are you both on the same page, but the rhythm you’re establishing in your home is that much more consistent.
Make a list, check it twice.
Keeping a grocery list ensures you won’t impulse buy or veer from the plan you established. When you know what you’re eating and you know what you already have in your fridge, freezer or pantry, you know what to buy at the grocery store.
However, this list doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have it on you. You don’t have to keep a physical list – I keep mine in my phone. Find a system that works for you and abide by it.
BONUS TIP: As you check items off of your list, keep a running tally of how much you’re spending. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – keep a list and monitor your budget.
Don’t fall for sales.
Not all sales are created equal. Some are due to season, some are to simply get you to take notice of a product. Whatever the reason, don’t be tempted to partake in a sale at the grocery store just because it sounds like a good deal. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How often does this item go on sale? Can I wait until the next sale so I can budget for it?
- How often would I use it?
- Do I truly need it?
- Why has the sale caught my eye? Do I just want to buy something?
If you can’t practically justify your purchase, there’s a good chance you need to put it back on the self.
Plan to use your leftovers.
Have you ever been shocked at the amount of food you throw away when you clean out your fridge? Do you know how old that food is?
Every three days or so, I put “leftovers” in our meal plan. For us, that typically looks like eating leftovers for lunch the next day. But once every so often, I have to make sure we plan to eat leftovers for dinner. I do this to ensure we are not letting anything go to waste.
If you aren’t a fan of reheating food, you can think of ways to repurpose your leftovers. For example, if you have taco meat you ate with tacos, you can easily use that same meat to make beef quesadillas. If you have extra breaded chicken breast leftover, put it in a salad or consider turning it into chicken parmesan. However you plan to reuse your leftovers, be sure you’re adhering to proper food handling guidelines.
I love to encourage you and give you tips on how you can make educated decisions that improve the rhythm of your home. Are there any grocery shopping and meal planning tips you have? What’s on the menu this week? Find me on Facebook and Instagram and let me know!
Wait! Don’t forget these before you go to the store!
- Reusable grocery store bags
- Grocery store list, fun
- Grocery store list, practical
- Purell sanitizing wipes for your cart
- Produce bags