I remember a few years ago when my husband’s income dropped by nearly half. I’ve always been a stay at home mom and as a pastor, my husband has never made a lot of money. So when his income was cut, it was stressful. God has always provided what we need and that time was no different. I’ve seen how He is faithful time and time again!
Being a good steward of the money that God does provide for our family is important to us and using our money wisely is part of being a good steward. One of the ways we saved money was by being extra careful with our food budget.
There isn’t much room for negotiation when it comes to your mortgage or rent, but what you choose to put in your grocery cart is completely up to you. Your grocery bill is one of the most flexible expenses in your budget. Meal planning can help you save money, eat healthy, and still enjoy great meals right from home. If you are looking to save money on your grocery bill, check out these meal planning tips that will save you money.
I usually like to meal plan on Sunday afternoon, but which ever day works for you is fine. I write my meal plan in my Purpose 31 Planner so I can easily reference it throughout the week.
Meal Planning Tips that Save you Money
Here are some tips for helping you plan your meals for the week so that you save more money.
Eat at home.
Restaurants are expensive; before you’ve even placed your order you’re most likely out $5 or more for the tip. When you make meals at home, you are saving big money! If you struggle with eating out too much, it’s time to just get in the kitchen and start cooking. You don’t need to be a fancy chef to make dinner, but even a frozen pizza will cost you less than Domino’s or Papa John’s.
related: My Go-To Meals for Busy Days
Pack food when you’re on the go.
Packing food for picnic dinners, work, school lunches, or even breakfast on the road is a great way to save money. As I mentioned before, eating out is expensive and it will start to add up quick. If you need a change of scenery from your kitchen table, grab a picnic basket and head to the park and eat a home-cooked meal outdoors. Our family does this all the time.
We travel all. the. time.
I almost always stop at the grocery store and pick up easy to prepare food that we can eat in our hotel room, at a park, or in the car.
If you know you’re going to be running errands right through lunchtime, pack a few sandwiches to tide you over. Nuts, granola bars, and even fruit make easy snacks for times when you are out and need a quick snack. We use these Life Factory Glass Water Bottles every day whether we are out or at home. Having water bottles with us means we don’t need to purchase something to drink when we aren’t at home.
Plan meals around what you already have at home.
You can save a lot of money by not letting the food in your pantry go to waste! Did you know that the average American wastes 1/3 of their food every year? Inventory your pantry and fridge prior to making your meal plan and see what meals you can put together out of ingredients you already have on hand. You may even find that you have almost all of the ingredients to make a meal, such as only missing the taco shells for tacos or the tortillas for fajitas.
Other ways to reduce food waste at home and therefore save more money are:
- don’t buy more than you need
- stick to your grocery list when shopping
- buy foods you know your family will eat
- use good sense when reading use by dates and expiration dates
- eat up those leftovers
- Read: The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook: Save Food, Save Money, and Save the Planet by Cinda Chavich
Pay attention to the sales.
Know what the difference is between a good deal and a good sale before going shopping. Avoid buying foods that are outside of its sale cycle and build your meals around those when possible. Stock up on seasonal items when you can, and build a frugal stockpile in your pantry to use later. This will ensure you are getting the best possible deals on items you use week to week.
related: Saving Money at the Grocery Store
With a little careful planning, meal planning can save you money. Whether you’re using themed nights to spice up dinners at home, or preparing your meals ahead of time to make sure you eat at home, you are sure to save money when you plan your meals ahead of time.