One of the main reasons why people begin meal planning is to save money, and it is easy to see why. By planning ahead, you really can slash your grocery bill and get more food for less money each and every week. How much you get out of it will depend on how much you put into it, of course, but if you are willing to do the planning, get ready to see the benefits! Here are seven simple ways you can use meal planning to slash your grocery bill:
1. Buy Only What You Need
When I am not sure what I am going to make, what I am going to need or what I have already, I play it safe–I buy everything I think I might need so I won’t have to go to the store again later. Don’t do this. By planning ahead, you’ll know just what you have and need so you can avoid wasting money on items you don’t even need or already have.
2. Avoid Impulse Purchases
How many times have you gone grocery shopping and bought way more than you intended to? Stores are designed to make you make impulse purchases, and the more frequently you go to the store, the more likely you are to overspend. Limit your shopping trips to one trip a week (or a month, if you are super motivated), stick to your list, and stay out of the store throughout the week. Your budget will thank you.
3. Plan With Coupons in Mind
When you know ahead of time what items you are going to buy, you have the time to search for the matching coupons. While coupons may only be worth a few cents to a few dollars each, you really can slash your grocery bill by as much as 50 percent (if not more!) just by using coupons! Now that’s a significant savings!
4. Plan Around Sales Cycles
This planning technique is a little more complicated, but it can really save you big when done correctly. Instead of just buying whatever sounds good each week, plan your menus around the items that are on sale. For example, don’t make your famous ham and macaroni casserole the week that ham is full price–wait until it goes on sale and buy extra. Stock up on items at their lowest price points, never pay full price, and save big!
5. Use What You Have
If you are used to shopping without a meal plan, you may be used to doing this already, but just wait until you see how using what you have can save you money when combined with meal planning! For example, if I know I happen to already have pasta and spaghetti sauce on hand, then I know that planning a spaghetti night is going to be way cheaper than planning a taco night since I already have most of the ingredients on hand.
6. Use Single Ingredients in Multiple Meals
When I purchase ingredients like spinach, mushrooms, cream and ham, I rarely use the entire package all in the same meal. Instead, I usually have enough left over to make a whole other meal. By planning ahead, I can choose two dishes that use that same ingredient so the extra doesn’t go to waste.
7. Avoid Eating Out
If you are used to hitting the drive-through every night rather than deciding what to cook, meal planning is going to save you big! Buying ingredients and cooking yourself is substantially cheaper than eating out, both in the short term and in the long term as well. This doesn’t mean that you can never eat out again, of course. Only that you can plan ahead and avoid hitting the drive-through every night.
Meal planning is a great way to save some serious money, and who doesn’t like that? Would you love to lower your grocery bills by 20, 30 or even 50 percent? Give meal planning a try!