Freedom from Money: Part 2 – Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

I. AM. SO. EXCITED. Guys, I realize it is the bane of many people’s existence, but I stinkin’ love grocery shopping! The aisles full of choices…the unexpected sale items…the new products…the Costco samples. I love it all!

In my post several weeks ago, we talked about developing and living on a budget. The reality is that food takes up a pretty good chunk of our living expenses, and, if you are on a tighter budget, you are most likely eating at home more than not. Even with eating at home the majority of the time, groceries are still going to cost a small fortune. However, there are a few simple strategies that we can put into place to help save some dough.

Before we begin, let me just say that I am not a pro at this! There are people out there who are extreme sale seekers and coupon clippers – I am happy for them, but I don’t have the time or desire to invest myself in those endeavors. Consider this the barebones guide to saving money on groceries, and feel free to expand upon it as you see fit!

  1. Identify which stores consistently have the lowest prices on quality food, particularly meat and produce. This doesn’t need to be a huge research project – no need to apply for a grant or take a sabbatical from work! Just peruse a couple flyers each week, or keep your eyes open when you’re shopping, and you’ll become familiar with where the best deals can usually be found. In our area, I have found that Aldi and Costco are my best sources.
  2. Create a file of consistently used recipes. This might look like a binder of printed recipes, a Pinterest board, or a good ol’ recipe box! I find Pinterest to be wonderfully helpful for both finding and organizing recipes. Looking for some great recipe sources? Check out a few of my favorite blogs:
  3. Plan your meals. I like to sit down for an hour or two and plan a month’s worth of meals. Admittedly, that can be a little overwhelming at times! Planning a week or two at a time works great, too – whatever works for your schedule. To keep things simple for planning, I follow a rotation, which gives me a loose structure with room for variety:
    • Mondays: Pasta
    • Tuesdays: Tacos/Mexican
    • Wednesdays: Soup or Salad
    • Thursdays: New Recipe Night or Leftovers
    • Fridays: Homemade Pizza or Eat Out
    • Saturdays: Brunch
    • Sundays: Slow Cooker (lunch), popcorn for dinner
  4. Make your list. Once I have my meal plan in place, I take a look through the recipes to see what I need for ingredients. A paper list works just dandy for this, or you can use an app like Out of Milk, which is my preference. When you shop from a list, you know what you need and what you don’t, which can add up to significant savings!
  5. Go the extra mile…plan for leftovers! Another way to save a chunk of change is to bring your own lunch to work, which is much easier when you have leftovers on hand. Make a double batch of one meal and enjoy the leftovers for lunch throughout the week!

This can be a lot to take in, so don’t try to do it all at once! Start by observing prices at the places you shop – or maybe check out a few stores you don’t normally shop at. Slowly put together a collection of recipes. Then maybe try planning a week’s worth of meals, making your list, and shopping for those items. With time, it will become second nature, saving you both time and money in the long run!

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2 thoughts on “Freedom from Money: Part 2 – Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

  1. Oh, friend! You know I’m with you on this one! Not only does it save money but the stress! And I would totally go grocery shopping for people to save them stress and money because it’s one of my favorite things to do, too! I scored a $3 loaf of pumpernickel bread for 83 cents today. 😊

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