Estimated Monthly Savings: $200
Cooking at home is one of the easiest ways to save money in your family budget. The key to maximizing your savings is careful planning. Spending an hour or two planning meals each week can help you save big at the grocery store.
Before building a menu and shopping list, be sure to see what you have on hand. Check your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry for any items you need to use before they expire. Avoiding food waste helps you save money. Make a list of any pantry staples like oil, flour, or spices you may need to restock.
Be sure to check weekly grocery ads for the best deals. Make a list of items that are on sale at your favorite store then plan your meals around those foods. If you have time and have several stores near one another, consider shopping in two or more places so you grab the best deals at each.
If you use coupons or money-saving grocery apps, compare the sales in your ad to your coupons and the offers in your app. This allows you to stretch your grocery dollars even more.
Build Your Menu
Don’t just plan your menu in your head. A written menu plan keeps you organized. Select meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day of the week. Make a shopping list as you plan so you’re sure to have everything on hand.
Try some of these tips for inexpensive menu-planning options:
- Make breakfast the least expensive meal of the day. Try oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts or scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast for a tasty, inexpensive way to start the morning
- Plan dinners with lunch in mind. Use Sunday’s roast chicken leftovers with multi-grain wraps and fresh veggies for a quick, nutritious school lunch
- Avoid expensive, processed food in favor of cook-from-scratch options
- Have at least one meatless dinner per week. Black bean burritos or pasta primavera are healthy, budget-friendly options
- Combine leftover meat with rice or pasta and frozen vegetables for an easy casserole
- Bring your cost per meal down by pairing expensive items like meat and fish with inexpensive items beans and grains from bulk bins
- Use frozen vegetables in meals like soups and casseroles.
- Don’t let your hard work go to waste once you hit the store. Shop from your list, marking items off as you go. If an in-store deal is too good to pass up, substitute it for a similar item on your list.
Meal planning isn’t time-consuming or difficult. Give it a try and see the savings add up.