Today we’re going to talk about how I save hundreds of dollars a month on feeding my family! Without crazy couponing. Although we do some minor coupon shopping, which I’ll delve into in the future. Requiring minimal effort, only an hour or so a month. It may take a little longer your first time around, but it quickly becomes second nature.
Sound good? Let’s get into it!
Basically, I’ve come up with a system (if you want to call it that) where we save literally hundreds of dollars a month on groceries by meal planning. Monthly meal planning to be specific. This serves many purposes for us, in addition to saving us money.
- Solves the daily “what’s for dinner?” question.
- Saves boatloads of time not going to the grocery store every other day.
- Saves even more time doing meal prep for several meals at once.
- Stops you from hitting a drive thru on your way home, or signing into UberEats.
- Encourages you to eat healthier.
- Decreases food waste.
We could easily spend $30/night on takeout for dinner (and we have!), plus $100 a week running to the store for miscellaneous items that don’t even end up making more than one meal. You do that math, I’m way too embarrassed to admit how much we used to spend on food.
Now, how to start.
I’m going to share a few [free] downloadable, printable templates I made for you to use as a tool to get started. Although you can just do this on notebook paper, if something looks pretty I’m more inclined to use it.
Sign up to the email list to automatically receive your free copy of the meal planning kit!
Now that you’ve downloaded your blank templates,
Take inventory of what you already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Come up with meals using what you already have first! What looks like a random assortment of junk in your kitchen can easily become the basis of your meal plan for the month, if you just pick up the ingredients you need to complete meals.
Monthly meal planning would be intimidating without a list of your family’s favorite meals. What do you like to eat? First, use the “Our Favorites” sheet to jot down all your tried & true recipes. Add meals using what you’ve already got first! Come up with enough meals to make dinner every night. The number you need depends on your family. Do you mind eating the same stuff week after week? You might only need 7-10 meals. Are you more like us where there’s a couple dishes you’ll eat twice a month, but you generally want something new every night? We come up with about 25 ideas.
We typically look at our grocery store’s sale ads, and plan meals around what’s on sale! If we can get ground beef for $1.99/lb, we’ll add more meals that use that. If we can get boneless, skinless chicken thighs cheap, we’ll plan more chicken dishes.
Breakfast for us is simple. I love eating oatmeal and/or fruit for breakfast. My husband goes through phases of not eating anything in the morning, or wanting homemade breakfast sandwiches. Lunches for us are either dinner leftovers, sandwiches, or wraps. Snacks are typically things like trail mix, granola bars, fresh fruit, veggies with my homemade vegan ranch dip, or occasionally half a package of Oreos. (Balance, I guess?)
Once you have a solid list of your favorite meals,
Grab the “Monthly Meal Plan” sheet. Then take a look at your schedule. Are there days you won’t be home, and therefore won’t need to cook? Mark off days like this so you aren’t wasting food!
Now just start filling the days in with meals. If two dishes use a lot of the same fresh produce items, we’ll plan them for the same week to avoid waste. Consider prep-time, and how busy you are each night of the week. If you need dinner in under 20 minutes on Tuesdays, then maybe homemade ravioli & fresh baked bread isn’t the best choice. We plan quick, easy to throw together options for week nights. Slow cooker recipes, things that can be prepped in advance. More complex dishes are saved for weekends when my husband can help me with the baby! But do what works for you! Some people do theme nights, like taco Tuesday, homemade pizza on Friday, etc. Whatever floats your boat!
Now to make your shopping list!
Your free printable kit came with a Monthly Shopping list. First, take a look around your pantry and freezer. Always use what you have first!
In your printable kit, you’ll see your monthly shop list and your weekly shop list. Start listing off all the non-perishable or freezeable items you’ll need for each meal in the monthly list, tallying duplicate items to make it easier. If your family uses about a pound of meat per dinner, tally up how many dishes you’re using each type of meat in, etc. List the fresh produce/perishable items on your corresponding “Weekly Shopping” list.
I write an estimate of how much I think each item will cost to be sure that I’m staying on budget. I’ll talk more about our budget in another post, and discuss how we came up with a number that works for us.
It’s as simple as that! Plan your favorite meals, schedule them throughout the month, and stick to your plan! You’ve already gone to the store and bought all the food you need for the month. You know well in advance what you’re cooking tomorrow night, so there’s no excuses!
If you have any questions, or would like to know more, leave a comment!
Share with a friend that needs to save money too!
& click the image below to save to Pinterest for later!