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Meal planning can sometimes seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before.
But I promise it’s super easy and super important for an organized kitchen!
And your wallet!
There are three reasons you should meal plan before every trip to the grocery store!
1. Overbuying Groceries
Have you ever went to the store to get groceries without any idea of what meals you were going to cook that week?
And since you had no plan, you just picked whatever sounded good at that moment?
And then you go to pay and you realize you spent WAY TOO MUCH MONEY!
Let’s be honest, we have all done this!
And it can lead to serious problems if you are doing this every week.
If you are going to the grocery store without any plan or direction, then you are simply wasting your money.
More than likely, you never actually eat all the food you buy.
You also probably forget important ingredients which leads you back to the store that week, where you spend more on those missing ingredients, plus impulse purchases!
And what sounded good to you at the store, may not sound good later that week and you end up going out to eat instead.
Can you say recipe for disaster?!
2. Not Planning Your Meals Around Sales
If you’re going to your local grocery store without looking at their weekly ad, then you are missing out on huge money saving opportunities!
Or if you are not adding digital coupons to your store card, then you are overpaying for the products that you are going to buy regardless!
When you’re not aware of what money saving opportunities are being offered to you at your grocery store, you are overspending and wasting huge amounts of money each month!
3. Buying Things You Already Have
Have you ever purchased a condiment at the store, only to come home and realize you already had a full bottle of that condiment?
This may not seem like a big deal, but when you do it every other time you go to the grocery store you are:
- Cluttering your cabinet space.
- Wasting your money.
For example, if you need mustard for this week’s meal, but you don’t use mustard very often so you just pick it up when you’re at the store.
But then you get home and find that you already had a full bottle of mustard in your pantry.
Now you have two full bottles of mustard.
Are you going to be able to use both of those mustards before they expire? Maybe. Maybe not.
Do you have the extra cabinet space for 2 bottles of mustard? Or are your cabinets already full of food and busting at the seams?
And this may not seem like a huge deal!
But what if you bought one item that you already had every single week?
You could be spending $150+ a year on food that you may never get around to eating!
What else could you do with that $150 dollars?
So how do you avoid these problems?
Meal Planning is super easy when you follow these simple steps!
Grab a pen and paper or this handy meal planner printable. On this paper, you will be writing down what meals you are going to have for the week, as well as what groceries you need to buy.
Go to your grocery store’s website and look at their weekly ad. (If you’re not sure how to find this, just google your store name and weekly ad. Example: Kroger Weekly Ad)
You may also receive these ads in the mail.
From that ad, come up with meal ideas that you can make with items that are on sale!
Is ground beef on sale for $2 dollars a pound this week instead of $5?
Knowing that, could you make burgers one night and chili another?
Or is lunch meat buy one, get one free this week?
Could you take homemade sub sandwiches for lunch this week instead of freezer meals or fast food?
Based on the groceries on sale in your grocery store, create a menu of meals you can make!
Once you know what meals you want to make, you need to figure out what ingredients you need to make those meals.
I try to always make my weekly meal plan when I’m at home and in my kitchen so that I can see what ingredients I have and what I need to buy.
Go through each meal you have on your list and write down all the items you need to buy on your grocery list.
Be sure to check your cabinets and pantry for items that you already have! Taking time to do this step will eliminate overbuying and cluttering up your cabinets or pantry!
Once you have your grocery list complete, now it’s time to find coupons!
If you shop at a major chain store like Kroger, you can go to their app or their website and add digital coupons to your store card (Kroger Card.)
Stores like Target also have digital coupons that you can add to your Red Card.
Taking 5 minutes to hop online and look for these digital coupons that your store is offering could save you lots of money on the items you’re already going to buy!
But stick to your list!
What to not do when meal planning
The key to avoid overbuying and wasting money is to stick to your list!
Before you step foot in a grocery store, make sure that your list is complete!
Plan for your weekly meals AND YOUR SNACKS!
Snacks are where most of your impulse buys come from and grocery stores are really smart about getting you to buy them!
So before you head to the store, see what kind of snacks you have on hand.
Do you already have two packages of cookies?
Or do your kids have a full box of fruit snacks?
Be aware of all the snacks you have before you head to the store so you can avoid the impulse to buy more!
Also, don’t buy something just because it’s on sale.
Have you ever bought ingredients for a meal just because it was on sale, but then you never actually got around to eating it?
Maybe you bought a frozen meal that was on sale.
But then 6 months later you still haven’t eaten it and you kind of don’t want to now because you’ve had it for so long?
You might as well have flushed your money down the drain.
Avoid these problems by sticking to your list and only buying items that you know you and your family will eat within the next few weeks!