I have found that meal planning saves me so much money (and time) (and brain power) that it’s not even funny!
The goal is to do your grocery shopping once a week. No more, no less. No urgent trips to buy a litre of milk – that ends up costing you $50 because, let’s face it, you never come out with just milk.
So here are my tips to tell you how and why to meal plan.
- Allocate 20 minutes max.
- Sit down with a pen, paper, whiteboard and markers, apps, cook books – whatever you need for inspiration and to record your plan and shopping list.
- Write down the days of the week and the meals of each day in a grid.
- Write down what you’re going to eat for each meal. Depending on your family size, think if there are food items that could be shared between meals, ie. if your bolognese sauce needs 1/2 a red capsicum, what can you cook the next day to use the other half? (Note: unless you do fancy breakfasts and lunches, you might just want to have a “staples” list for those meals Monday to Friday).
- Write a shopping list, including every ingredient for every meal, plus staples that may need topping up in the pantry
- Check your list, making sure you have enough things like bread and milk to last you the week. Add anything else you might need – like laundry powder, washing up stuff, stationery, etc.
Once you have your list, go shopping – but – don’t buy anything that’s not on the list because you don’t need it!
- It saves you money.
- It saves you time.
- You don’t have to think “what am I going to cook for dinner?” except for that one time.
- Everyone knows what to expect for their meals.
- You can put thought into a well-balanced meal plan for the week instead of taking an easy option on those days you come home tired.
- Reduces the urge for take-away.
- It makes sense.
Give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain!
Take it one step further and withdraw the cash for your grocery shopping before you hit the supermarket and limit your shopping to your budgeted allowance. If you run out of money, stop shopping!