Are you spending too much time thinking about what’s for dinner? Does your bank account suffer every time you go to the grocery store? Use these meal planning tips to save time and money this week.
Spending Too Much Time and Money
Three years ago, most of my money was spent on food. Each week, I looked through my favorite cookbooks and cooking magazines for hours. I selected a meal for each night of the week and made my grocery list. Each recipe used different ingredients, so my grocery list was usually at least 50 items long. A $250 charge was added to my credit card at the end of my weekly grocery shopping trips.
Prepared with all of my ingredients, I would start out strong Monday night. Meal one would be ready and on the table after my busy day teaching third graders. Tuesday night’s dinner was usually prepared as well, although a little less enthusiastically. By Wednesday, I was dragging. I searched the refrigerator and cabinets for something I could quickly throw together. Forget the rest of the week. Thursday and Friday were take out or eat out nights. That meant even more charges on the credit card. We were spending at least $300 a week for food.
Meal Planning Tips
When I had my daughter, I decided to take a year off from teaching. Living on only my husband’s salary was hard and we needed to find a way to cut back on costs. The first thing that had to go was the $300 a week food bill. I started using these five simple meal planning tips to save time and money.
#1 – Use the weekly circular to find deals.
Every grocery store advertises weekly deals on food. Get a copy of your grocery store’s circular either in the newspaper or in the grocery store. You can also find it online. Look for good sales on items your family likes. For even more savings, combine the circular offers with coupons. Check out my post Does Couponing Really Save Money? for more tips on using coupons.
#2 – Use the power of Pinterest.
Spending hours looking through cookbooks and magazines is one way to find recipes. However, it’s very time-consuming. Pinterest is a great way to save time because you can find any recipe there. Simply type in the ingredients you found in the weekly circular, and you’ll have hundreds of recipes at your fingertips.
#3 – Fill out a meal planner.
Having all of your meals planned out will help you stay on schedule. Finding breakfast items and packing school lunches used to take me tons of time, too. Now that I’ve started meal planning, I know what we’re eating for every meal of the week. That’s a huge time saver! Check out this post for even more meal planning ideas and to download my free meal planner.
#4 – Eat out less.
One of our biggest expenses was getting take out or eating out at restaurants. Now with two kids, we can’t get out of a restaurant for less than $40. We went from eating out at least two times a week to saving restaurants for special occasions. Eating out less results in more savings.
#5 – Do your cooking over the weekend.
The last of my meal planning tips is to prepare all of your food over the weekend. After a long day at work, you can just pull a meal out of the refrigerator and pop it in the oven. This saves me so much time, and I can actually play with my kids while the food cooks. Check out my make-ahead meal posts to get some ideas for your meals this week.
Results of These Meal Planning Tips
I’ve been using these meal planning tips for about three years now. They’ve cut my grocery bills from $250 a week to under $100 a week. We save at least fifty more dollars by eating at home more often. The extra time I get to spend with my kids on weeknights is priceless! Try these meal planning tips, and see how much time and money you’re able to save!