Sunday, February 15, 2009

10 Tips on Budget Friendly Meal Planning

Frugal is my middle name... well no... it's Jo! But honestly my husband works for a nonprofit and I'm a stay-at-home mom. We are tight in the money department! So, I'm going to share with you some of my frugal tips on meal planning. Hope they help!

1] Clip coupons! - A Monday ritual for me is running down to the nearest grocery store and grabbing a left-over Sunday paper. I sit at the kitchen table and clip every coupon I would ever consider using. Even if you know you have it in your cupboard still CLIP IT! - you just never know! Also when reading coupons make sure to pay close attention to the dates on the coupon and also what it says! Sometimes it is an awesome deal and sometimes it is not!

2] Check Your Cupboards - When I get ready to write up a menu, I take a good look of what is in my cupboards. I base my menu off of what I know I already have on hand. When it comes around to the next time you are supposed to go buy groceries you should have near to nothing in your cupboard/ refrigerator if you are doing it right. (With exception to the staples) You don't want to buy repeats on accident and you don't want to cut yourself short on the staples. That just leads to extra trips to the grocery store and we all know that just gets us over budget!

3] Write a Menu! When writing a menu... put the day, the meal, how much of each meat (2 cb [chicken breasts], .5 lb gb [ground beef] and so on) This will help with no over-buying or under-buying.

Example:

Monday, February 16: (Follow also your personal calendar so you won't plan a meal on the days you are eating out or going over to a friends house and so on.)

brkfst - Hot Cereal and Bananas 2bns

lch - Tuna Sandwiches, Chips, Apple Slices, and Carrot sticks 2cn,2apl,2crt

dnr - Roasted Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Peas and Applesauce 1whlchkn,3ptto,

This seems a little tedious but I'm telling you if you do this you will buy exactly what you need and you'll find your grocery bill go DOWN significantly. Also when writing your menu take advantage of left-overs and reusing for example the whole chicken carcass to make chicken stock for chicken soup, chicken potpie or the like. Take advantage of what is in your cupboard already and also remember to include in your meal planning - those coupons!

4] Make a list and check it twice! Write up grocery list based off of your menu - When writing up your grocery list take your menu (side-by-side) and go day by day. What exactly are you going to need for the meals in that day from the main food item to the cooking ingredients... everything for that day - making sure you are not listing things that you already have supplied in your cupboards.

5] Organize your Grocery List! To help with making your trip quick and successful - split up your grocery list into a strategic plan based on what areas you shop in and by what order you first walk to when you walk through the grocery store doors... example: Fruits and Veggies, Middle Aisles, Meat, Dairy, and Frozen (this helps with time when your shopping with kiddos)

6] Buy basic ingredients - rice, flour, noodles... This is sort of like you would be cooking from scratch - Don't be turned off by this - you'll see how your family will benefit from this if you try it. Don't buy prepackaged anything! No HamburgerHelper, no preseasoned rice or noodle boxes, no cookies in a tube, no cakes in a box, no fancy frozen meal in one sack type of deals! You'll find if you are making these dinners/desserts on your own... with raw, fresh and basic ingredients you will be able to make 3 meals for the price of one! It is #1 healthier and #2 it is WAY CHEAPER to cook with more basic ingredients!

7] Only take 2 trips to the grocery store! - We take two trips a month to the grocery store. One at the first of the month and one at the fifteenth (when we get paid :). This way you aren't tempted to buy anything more and if you don't have it - you can't make it... so this is why it is crucial you make yourself a good list!

8] Midnight Grocery Shopping! I have a grocery store here where I live that is open 24/7. So I'll work on my list during the day, my husband will get home from work and we'll do our normal evening routine of dinner, bathe the kid and get the kiddo to bed and then I'll go shopping and he stays at the house with the boy! This is not only gives me a little much needed mama time! But, I do SO good shopping when I don't have my little one screaming in my ear! Try it out! You'll fall in love at first trip!

9] Got to the cheaper market! I started to go to Winco way back when I realized how different my bills were. I mean by probably more than 1/3 of a difference! So you might feel creeped out by the ethnic diversity of that cheaper store. Grit your teeth and swallow your pride and GET OVER IT. God made them too and remember... Jesus loves the little children of the World!

10] Vow to NEVER again! Never again will you take a quick trip to the more expensive grocery store buying unwanted/unneeded items. Never again will you go to the grocery store without going through this process because it just ends up costing YOU TOO MUCH! Follow your Menu! You wrote it for a reason! Stick with it!

Happy Meal Planning!

3 comments:

Todd and Jackie Echeverria said...

Well done, Sis.
You are so smart.....just like your mom. he he!
to the moon
mom

Krista said...

Very smart. I might add that buying a wheat grinder and making your own breads and pastas is easy and very cheap. My little one loves to help grind the wheat. Home ground wheat is wonderful for you and has a great flavor. It makes me smile to see how much a like we are now!

Blueprint Bliss said...

Great post. I am taking notes. Thanks for your post on my blog!

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