Living Well Money

Meal Planning: What It Is and How It Saves You Money

Have you seen shows like Extreme Couponing where men and women pay a few dollars for hundreds of dollars worth of groceries? It’s so easy to watch those shows and start to consider investing several a week couponing, isn’t it? But the truth is that unless you really know what you’re doing, you’ll probably only end up save even a few dollars here and there at the store.

But did you know that there’s something else you can do to seriously cut your food budget? How?

The answer is in meal planning.

Whether you’re single or living with a large family, meal planning is a great way to save money on groceries!

What is a Meal Plan and How Do I Do It?

A quick definition of a meal plan is simply a chart that lists out your weekly meals. If you were to google “meal plan template” there are hundreds of examples available. Often you meal plan one week at a time and is broken down into Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, and Dinner categories.

Once you start doing your research you’ll find that there are a lot of tips and tricks to reduce the amount of cooking you need to do and to use every grocery you buy.

How Does Meal Planning Save Money?

  1. Reduces waste: When we go to the store and purchase whatever looks good at that moment, not only are we more likely to leave the store with items we shouldn’t eat, but we’re also more likely to leave with items we won’t eat. When you plan your meals, you’ll be able to eliminate waste and stop having to throw out hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of food every year.
  2. Being prepared prevents you from eating out: Do you ever do the math on what it costs to eat out? The same meal that costs you $12 (plus tip, tax, and a drink) might only cost $3-4 when made at home. When you have a plan, you’ll have everything you need to make a filling meal well before it’s time to start cooking. So instead of missing a key ingredient and choosing to do the drive thru (again) at the last minute, you are better able to stick to your budget.
  3. Less trips to the grocery store: When you’re not prepared, you end up going to the store multiple times a week. This costs gas money and also, often, means that you’ll buy a bunch of compulsive items that you feel like you might need in the moment. This adds up quite a bit!

Do you meal plan? Any tips and tricks for those just starting out?

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