How to Meal Plan to Save Money

How to meal plan to save money

With a baby on the way, I have become very aware of our finances. We’ve been focused on being prepared for the baby, not just with having a nursery completed, but also financially. I would be lying if I said I knew what I was doing when it came to being a first-time mom.

I have no idea!

But I know me and I know my personality. I like everything in order. Not knowing what to do has really screwed me on what I like.

The one thing I can control is the house and our budget. So, I’ve been nesting pretty good trying to get the house ready for our boy. I’ve also been working hard to save money where I can because not knowing how much anything is going to cost and how much we’re going to need is really throwing me for a loop.

My plan is to breastfeed, but what if I can’t? Then what will I do? What if my baby has allergies? I mean, the list can go on and on. I’m doing the only thing I can do – controling our budget.

One area that I have found amazing savings is with our meal planning. I use my hand-dandy meal planning sheet.

2 week meal planner

Download yours for FREE here.

I used to only plan for a week at a time, but I’ve found that I am saving quite a bit more by planning for two weeks. I try to go to the store every other Sunday afternoon. That way we aren’t tempted by high-priced snacks by going throughout the week when I’m tired. I also follow some great tips that I want to share with you on how to meal plan to save money.

Here’s what I’ve found from meal planning for two weeks at a time: Not only is it a time saver, but we’ve been able to cut our grocery budget by over 30%.  That’s a huge savings!  Plus, we haven’t been eating out as often, which is saving even more money.

Tip 1: Make a meal plan that actually sounds good and is easy to prepare.

I know it sounds crazy, but if you go searching for all of these tasty look recipes that require a lot of prep work then your meal planning might as well fly out the window. I like to keep it simple with dinners that take less than 10 to 15 minutes of prep. It’s a lot easier to convince yourself to stay in and cook dinner after a long day.

meal planner - merelynne

Tip 2: Shop your cabinets first.

Make sure you’re looking in your cabinets, pantry, fridge and freezer for ingredients you have on hand. I usually take stock of what I have first, then start building a meal plan around it. That way I can really save money by using what we already have. Plus, it’s such a bummer when you go grocery shopping just to figure out when you get home that you already have 2 packs of ground beef sitting in the freezer.

Tip 3: Make a grocery list from your meal plan.

I know it sounds simple, right? But how many of us will try to remember what’s on our plan for the week instead of pulling it out? If you try to go from memory then you will almost always forget an ingredient or buy something you don’t need.

Stick to your meal plan when you’re making your list.

Tip 4: Keep a grocery list in the kitchen.

I have a notepad that we hang on our fridge. Anytime we’re out of something then we add it. If it’s not on the list by Sunday then I don’t buy it and we have to go without. I do make exceptions for toilet paper and dog food, but you get the idea.

Tip 5: Share your meal plan with your family.

I found one of the best things I’ve done is share my meal plan with J. That way he knows what we’re having for the week and he actually likes to help me out. So if he knows how to prepare the meal then he’ll have it started by the time I get home – it’s awesome!

I use my meal planning sheet, but I also put it on our Google calendar so he can see what’s for dinner.

Tip 6: Price match, coupons and money saving apps.

I love to price match. I learned a lot about price matching from Jordan at Fun Cheap or Free. I also don’t mind using coupons, but only if they are easy to come by. I don’t want to spend hours searching for coupons and printing them out. If I see one in the paper or on a product box then I will cut it out and use it.

money savings app

I also am a huge fan of money saving apps for my phone. I’ve written an ode to them in the past! My favorite right now is the Walmart Savings Catcher app. Mainly because that’s where we do most of our grocery shopping and it’s super easy to do. I typically let my savings build up so I can use them on our Christmas shopping. I saved a ton on our Christmas presents this year by doing it that way.

What do you do to save money on groceries? I would love to learn more!

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Meredith Rines, a budget and financial strategist helping fans pay off debt and live the life they've always wanted.

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