Estimated Monthly Savings: $125
It’s 5:00 pm, you’re leaving work and your spouse calls and asks, “What’s for dinner?” You inwardly groan. The options? Eating out (again!) or a frazzled stop at the grocery store to pick up something appealing that can be thrown together quickly. Nights like this are tough on the wallet, not to mention your waistline.
Planning meals ahead of time can not only save you the nightly “what’s for dinner?” scramble, research shows it can help save money, reduce waste, and is better for your health.
Consider these facts: According to the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics’ 2015 report on consumer expenditures, the average American household spends $4015 per year on groceries, and $3008 per year dining out. In the same year, the American Chemistry Council reported that the average household also wastes nearly 16% of their groceries – $640 per year!
Meal planning is a great tool for saving money at the grocery store by decreasing impulse buys, buying fewer processed or prepared foods, and helps your family eat at home more often. Since the average family eats out 4.5 times per week (Zagat, 2015), if you cut this by one-third, eating out just 3 times per week instead of 4.5 – your family can save over $1000 throughout the year. Add that to less waste, and you have given your family a $1500 “raise”!
Where to Start?
Meal planning doesn’t have to take much time, but there are many great online tools to make the planning process easier. Look for a plan that suits your schedule, lifestyle and dietary needs.
- Emeals.com: This subscription service delivers a seven-night menu to your inbox each week. There are menus for nearly every dietary concern, such as heart healthy, Paleo, clean eating, vegetarian, and even slowcooker meals. The weekly email includes the menu, recipes and grocery list. Print off the grocery list, make one grocery shopping trip, and you’re set for the week! Subscriptions start $29.99 for 3 months
- Platejoy.com: Complete a brief quiz about your household, and Platejoy compiles a recommended menu plan. The quiz includes questions about dietary concerns, grocery budget, and time available for meal prep. The menu and grocery list are delivered to your email weekly. Subscriptions start at $19 for 3 months.
- Nomoretogo.com: This service offers several menu choices, and provides a menu and grocery list for five weeknight meals that can be prepared quickly and economically, and the site features tips for saving money. You can subscribe to this service for $18 for 3 months.
- Plantoeat.com: This service requires a little more work from the user, but you don’t have to commit to a particular meal plan. Select recipes from their database, or pull recipes in from the web, and the service compiles your menu and grocery list. This plan is available for $39 per year.
- onceamonthmeals: Also known as batch or freezer cooking, this site guides you through preparing 10-12 meals in one day to stock your freezer, and eat the meals throughout the month. A wide variety of menus are available (low carb, vegetarian, instant pot, etc.). You will receive the menu, grocery list, and easy-to-follow instructions for prepping all of the meals in one day. This subscription starts at $16 per month.
For more money-saving tips, contact us!