(FinancialHealth.com) – Meal planning has proven itself to be one of the best ways for families to save money on groceries. Hitting the grocery store with a carefully planned list makes it easier to grab only what is needed without wasting extra money on junk food and unnecessary odds and ends.
Assessing what’s already in the house makes slashing the grocery bill even easier, as the meal plan and grocery list can be quickly built around those items. Here’s how it works.
What’s in the House?
Buying meats and other major protein products in bulk and on sale is important to keeping any grocery budget under control. Many of us forget what we have in the freezer and end up buying items we don’t really need; or because we forgot to take something out to defrost. Sit down each week and pick a protein you’ll feature in each of your daily meals.
Mapping out the rest of a meal’s ingredients is a little easier once a feature item has been chosen. Check the pantry to see what side dishes or ingredients are available. Want to make a chicken and rice bake with vegetables? Rice is something a lot of households stock in bulk. Add it to the list if there isn’t any in the house.
Are there frozen vegetables in the freezer or fresh in the fridge, or do they need to be added to the grocery list? No matter what the meal, building it around what’s already in the house can save a lot of time and money.
Keeping the Pantry Stocked
Of course, none of this will work if the freezer or pantry is empty. Picking up extras as they’re found on sale will ensure there is always a decent selection in the house. Keep your grocery budget low by:
- Only buying meats that have been marked down. Look for sale stickers or ask the store butcher if what time of day meats are reviewed for sale.
- Buy snack items in bulk instead of individual pre-portioned packs. Grab some plastic baggies and portion them out as you prep meals.
- Buy seasonal produce whenever possible. It always costs less than produce that needs to be imported and may force your family to try new things.
- Ask the store’s bakery department about sales on bread and other baked goods. They’re not as common as meat sales, but many bakeries will sell their day-old breads at steeply discounted prices.
- Consider store brands instead of major manufacturer brands. The food, in most cases, tastes exactly the same. Some of it is made by the same manufacturer it’s just labeled differently.
- Compare the prices and consider buying condiments and other pantry staples at discount stores instead of at the grocery store.
Planning ahead is key to sticking to a meal plan and a grocery budget. Knowing what’s already available will eliminate impulse buys and fast food purchases. Be creative and enjoy the meal planning process.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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