20 Ways to Save More Money #6 – Learn to Make a Weekly Meal Plan

June 17, 2014

20-ways-to-save-more-money

If you are just tuning in to the series this is what you’ve missed as far as tasks:

#1 – Create Short and Long Term Goals
#2 – Make a Budget
#3 – Make a List of Highest Priced and Most Used Items
#4 – Create a Low Inventory List and Maintain It
#5 – Create a Sensible Stockpile

So now your house is full of really useful items that you got at a hot price and you are sticking to your budget so you can meet your long-term goal. Or something like that. But those really useful items become really useless if you don’t actually use them. Say that 3 times fast! There is no point in saving money on items that will sit there and expire or just take up space. So you must learn how to turn them into even more savings. Yes, the savings continue! :)

Whenever I talk about making a weekly meal plan, it seems like the reactions are fairly divided. Some are excited to try it while others are immediately negative saying it will never work for them because they are too busy or only like to eat what they are hungry for that day, etc. But meal planning doesn’t have to be every.little.detail of your week. I like to do a high-level meal plan sometimes and this is what I mean by that.

There are times when I know my week is going to be fairly crazy. So instead of saying, “On Monday we’ll eat this, on Tuesday we’ll eat that” I just plan for 5 meals that can be decided upon the night before. Why 5? Because often you’ll have one day of leftovers and typically one day where you end up either dining out or dining away from home, such as a birthday party, etc. Before I plan my 5 meals, I take a look at the calendar. Do I have any days where I need a super quick meal or any days where I may be home all day and can use the crockpot, etc? I make sure and pick meals that fit the week. The night before, I take a minute to decide which one I’ll make of the 5 and pull out ingredients to defrost or whatever prep may need to be done.

Now the important thing to remember with such a high-level meal plan is not to forget to make a meal if you have leftovers in mind the next day. You can’t have leftovers if you don’t make the original meal. :) Our lunches are always fairly basic so I don’t really “plan” for those but I just make sure I have some ingredients on hand to make what we may need.

Even having this much of a meal plan in place is not only helpful and time-saving but it is money-saving, as well, as it greatly reduces your chances of ordering carryout or even choosing an unhealthier meal option. It can also save you from that extra trip to the store where you may buy more items than you need.

More Tips for Meal Planning:

1) Create a one-time “Master Meal” List where you have a list of all the meals you tend to make. This will make your decision process go a bit faster and you might see a meal you haven’t made recently.

2) Have “Back-up Meals” on hand just in case the original plan falls through for whatever reason. Things to consider: breakfast for dinner (eggs, toast and fruit), spaghetti with some steamed veggies or even a frozen pizza. We like to make “mini pizzas” on English muffins.

3) If you have a week where your meal plan doesn’t go according to your original plan, brush yourself off and try again. You might be halfway done if you still have last week’s meal ingredients still on-hand!

4) You can read my “Meal Planning: Tips for Success and How to Start” article I wrote last year that details everything a lot more.

RECAP

1) Decide what type of meal plan you want that week – detailed or “high-level” and work on planning out your meals.

2) Make sure in your planning process that you take a look at the food you already have on hand to make the most meals for the least amount of money.

3) Always have a “back-up meal” on hand just in case a meal that week doesn’t go according to the original plan.

4) Keep at it. Some weeks will work out better than others.

How Does This Save Me Money?

1) Having a plan in place will reduce your chances of stopping and picking up fast food or carryout – either of those things will cost a lot out-of-pocket!

2) You won’t need to spend so much time deciding every day what you need to make which can free up your time during the week for other things–things such as more couponing–which may earn/save you more money.

3) You can plan for a night of leftovers which will save you from having to pay for another meal and will make the most of the money you spent by eliminating waste.

4) You will be watching what items you have on hand that soon expire and use them for your meals so they don’t go to waste, as well.

5) You can reduce your grocery store trips which will reduce your chances of spending money on anything you don’t need.

It takes a little time to get used to figuring out what meal plans will work best for you. And each week may vary based on what events are going on in your life that week. Just keep trying your best and remember that every little bit counts and adds up to extra savings! Stay tuned for more in this series this week!

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