If you are a long-time reader of my blog, most probably you already know that this chica here loves meal planning. I regularly make a weekly meal plan that starts on Monday.
The benefits of creating a meal plan are many. This post will teach you how to create a meal plan that saves you money.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard. It also gets easier as you continue to create meal plans on a regular basis. Make in advance to avoid the rush. This habit makes you decide better on what’s on the next meal.
Meal planning varies. Many people do a monthly meal plan. I do a weekly plan because it is easier and works well for my family and me. You may do a 2-week or 3-week meal plan. Whichever works for you and you feel comfortable, then there’s nothing wrong with it.
Before I show you how to create a meal plan, I will start as to why you should create one and what benefits it can do to you.
What is Meal Planning?
Meal Planning (sometimes called Menu Planning) is when you decide and organize what to eat for a certain period of time. This process can be for yourself or for the whole family.
The meal plans can also depend on your health issue or the type of diet you prefer. Thus, this kind of diet meal planning may be a bit extensive because a particular kind of diet must be followed.
8 Reasons You Should Create a Weekly Meal Plan
1. Saves Money
When you create a meal plan, you will save money. The fun part is that anyone can do the meal planning, making it easy and saving money. Seriously! Continue reading to know more about this.
A well-planned meal will reduce the time you spend going to the grocery store to look for what you need. You have all the ingredients available for your meals. This will avoid stress and the “what’s for dinner” from the rest of the family.
Love to meal plan? Check out these printables:
This is very important and should be on everyone’s list of reasons you should create a meal plan.
When you don’t use a meal plan, chances are you will be short on time, and this will cause you to find a quick, easy meal that might not be the healthier meal.
By taking the time to create a meal plan, will keep you focused on a healthier alternative to your meals.
4. Less waste
When you plan what your family is going to eat for the week, you will plan meals that you know everyone will enjoy.
You will need your family's cooperation to create a menu that everyone likes and, at the same time, keep it healthy, too. It will be fun and a learning experience for the young.
This avoids having food wasted because you will not buy items you don’t need. You avoided creating meals that were not popular with your family.
5. Saves time
Because you planned the meal and surely you have the list of what you need, you save time when you go out to the grocery and markets. You already knew what to get and where to get it. That means a shorter time going around the store.
You also save time at home because you already know what to cook, and all you need are in your pantry.
Sometimes we stick to what is simple, quick, and easy. This leads to having the same meal more than a few times. To avoid this, creating a meal plan will help. This will give you an idea of the meals you plan without repeating the same dish for the week.
This can turn out to be an enjoyable meal because your family is always looking forward to the food they like.
7. Learning tool
That’s when it comes to food. Surely you wanted to try to cook something new, or something you have eaten when you visited a friend and would love to try at home, too.
You can include that in your meal plans. After a few weeks, it is easier for you to make plans as you have more foods to choose from.
You’ll know new ingredients, too. I’m sure there are spices that you have no idea what it is for or what makes a certain food taste this way and that way.
You might have some kitchen equipment given to you as a gift, won in a raffle, or randomly bought because it was on sale, but they are rarely used. You will be surprised that many easy, budget-friendly recipes for healthy meals use such equipment as a crockpot or instant pot that you rarely used before.
8. Less stress
Because you have already made a meal plan for the whole week, you don’t need to think of many things about the family’s next meal because you have them already at your hand.
You may be stressed out after a very busy day, but you can relax when you get to your kitchen to prepare meals.
When it’s planned, you know what to prepare. No ingredients are forgotten, no rotten herbs and vegetables because you forgot that you still have them. And most of all everyone is looking forward to a nice dinner.
Does a meal plan really saves you money?
As you read above, creating a menu plan has many benefits and is not hard. But do take note of what food and ingredients you are considering for the meal because you may not save at all.
To maximize your savings, try to stick to a budget when creating a meal plan. If somehow, there is some left-over meal from dinner (when we don’t feel like eating that much), adjust your lunch. You can cook less or have the left-over be your lunch. Of course, that depends on who is with you.
Reasons These Steps Save You Money
Creating a well-planned meal will save money. How? You will not overspend on items you don’t need for your meal.
You can also create your menu according to what is on sale in your grocery store and the coupons that you can collect for more discounts. So, always watch out for their weekly ads.
Look at your store ads
To help you save money on your meal plan, check your local store ads for deals of the week.
Some of the stores have websites that you can check. Others advertise in advance through the media or a flyer.
Before leaving the store, get a copy of this flyer. Then create a meal plan that includes the items that are on sale.
The majority of our local grocery stores start their sales on Sunday. For example, this week, we are having a sale on anything at Cinco De Mayo. This means tacos shells, seasoning, etc., are on sale. We are also having a sale on pasta and pork loin.
We love Mexican food in our home. And we even do Taco Tuesdays in our home. Looking at my budget and seeing the deals on my Mexican feast ingredients for the week saved me money.
Let’s take the deal on Mexican items in my local retailers as an example. There are plenty of coupons for Mexican-related products this week at my favorite retailers.
I’m already writing down my menu plan according to my local stores’ sales. I also see that I can use my coupons for these items. This will result in saving more money on my purchases.
If you use coupons, always check to see if there are coupons available for the items you need. This will save you money, and you will save even more if the item is on sale.
Write it down
I write down that tacos will be one of the meals for the week. I write down what I need in a shopping list to remind me and keep me on track of what I need for the week. Having this shopping list will prevent me from buying things that I don’t need when I go to the store.
If you need milk for the week, get a rebate when you use Ibotta. If you have a mobile device, take advantage of rebate apps that will refund your money when you purchase selected items listed on the app.
Below you will find apps that I personally used.
Create meals with what you have
Check your cupboard, your pantry, and your refrigerator to see what you can do with what you already have before heading out to the store to buy. This will definitely save you money on your meal, for sure.
There are those times that leftovers can’t be avoided for some reason. Include it in your next meal and adjust the next menu to avoid wasted foods. This will also save you money.
Be creative! Sometimes simple is better, and sometimes creative meals are a hit!
Make on-a-budget easy recipes
When you plan meals, you are able to choose what recipe you’ll cook. Being aware of the budget on hand, you choose easy and budget-friendly recipes.
There are many recipes being shared online nowadays. You choose what you feel is easy for you. That is, you already have ingredients available in your nearby groceries and market. Choose also the ingredients that are on sale and in season (mostly, they are cheaper).
Large Family Meal Planning
We are a family of six, and we have family and friends that are large families and use meal planning to keep their grocery costs down.
What's their secret? Large family meal planning is no different from the steps we wrote about.
They follow the same steps as above and keep going at it.
- 8 Tips for Saving Money Each Month
- The Best Frugal Meal Ideas for Families (& Why You Need Them)
- How to Adopt a Frugal Lifestyle
Let’s recap, shall we?
In order to create a meal plan that saves you money takes more than just writing meals, you want to make for the week without doing some research.
It is very helpful to look at your local ads, coupons, and mobile rebates apps and see what is on sale to help you bring the cost of your meals down for the week.
This is why I think it is better to create a weekly meal plan because not only will it help you save money, but it will also help you stay focused.
When you create a monthly meal plan, chances are you will lose interest, and some of the items might not be on sale. However, if there’s a reason that a weekly doesn’t work for you, feel free to do the meal planning in your most comfortable schedule.
You can create a meal plan, but creating one that will save you money is even better.
What other tips do you have when it comes to creating a meal plan that saves you money? Please share it with us.
Meal Plan for Busy Families
If you are busy and need help creating meal plans under budget, check out this $5 Meal Plan.
$5 Meal Plan is a weekly meal plan service that helps with your meal planning and makes it as simple as possible.
For $5 a month, you will receive a delicious meal plan with a cost of $2 per person or less.