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Meal planning is a great way to save money each week on groceries and is something that my wife and I are often doing and especially this month since we have set ourselves a grocery budget.
What is meal planing and how it saves us money
Meal planning is as the name suggests is planning out your meals for a certain amount of time in advance. We do ours weekly but you can plan it daily, weekly, fortnightly or even monthly, whichever method suits you best.
Meal planning helps us save money by:
- Using what we have
- Only buying what we need
- Reducing waste
The supermarket known as your kitchen
One of the very first things that we do is actually find out what we have in our cupboards, fridges and freezers. It is not an uncommon sight in our home for one of us (normally me) to be sat on a cushion in front of the freezer with pen and paper taking note of what we have, thankfully doing this no longer blocks off the kitchen since we have a nice wide kitchen now.
We do this to know exactly what we have and so we can effectively plan our meals. After all it can be difficult at times to remember what we have when we have so many different things coming and going. As we raid the reduction shelves (which we will get for ourselves and family), degustabox (which is also shared with family but we will also donate to a food bank), and of course our normal food shop. It is incredible the things that you can find in your cupboards when you do this – some you will not remember getting, others you will have thought got used up ages ago. This saves you money by not having you buy the items again or you find great alternatives.
When we want to save as much money as we can on our food bills we will only use what we have in already, other than any fresh produce like fruit, veg and milk. We will sometimes do this just to actually use up what we already have and gain freezer room again.
Planning your meals
Once you have your lists of what you already have you can now effectively plan. Make your meals as varied as possible, after all you don't want to get bored of a meal do you?
Planning for the week ahead is the most effective method and you can get the whole family involved asking what they want that could be made from the list. Once you have agreed to what to make then it is a great idea to have them written out on a board on your fridge, then it is so easy to remember and to look forward to. I can remember when I was younger not often knowing what was going to be for dinner in the evening but would always look forward to those that I knew in advance, making them that much nicer.
Breakfast and lunch can also be planned ahead and written down it doesn't have to just be dinner. Any take away or meals out are also a great thing to write onto the list, otherwise you might plan and buy a meal for those days which is something I have done before and I then had to alter the meal plan by a day since I had defrosted the ingredients.
How would you like to get a free meal planning printable? Simply complete the form above and you will be emailed it once you have confirmed your email.
Create and stick to your list
Knowing what you have and planning what you are going to eat will lead you to this next step of what do you not have that you need.
It is incredibly important to make a shopping list of what you need and to then stick to it. This is where you save tons of money. Supermarkets have clever marketing campaigns so if you can resist the temptation to buy things that aren't on your list then your supermarket spending will be drastically reduced. So it might be an idea to leave the kids and husband at home!
Before or whilst out you should check out what is on checkoutsmart and shopmium (use the code KHEMYGGZ when joining to get a FREE Lindt reindeer), these two apps allow you to get discounted or free items to try out, these could even be the items you needed for those meals you have planned or it could be an extra treat.
You can avoid many of these temptations by ordering online at Tesco or maybe you should give places like Muscle Food and Approved food a try? Approved food is a clearance food and drink site where you can get food at discounted prices due to it being close to or past it's best before date. You don't have to worry though, Best before is different to the use by date, the food is still good to eat it will only have lost a little of it's flavour or texture. Muscle Food provide fresh lean products and hampers and are an excellent choice for those wishing to eat a little healthier, they are also often doing deals on a range of different products, hampers and create seasonal hampers as well. You can order exactly what you want and have it delivered within the next few days so you can focus on other more important things.
Mixing things up
Each month my wife and I receive Degustabox, which is a monthly subscription to receiving a box of random food items for a fixed price that is lower than you would pay for the items in a store. This can really increase the options of things to try as it could give you sauces and flavourings you wouldn't normally buy or even things that are completely different to what you would ever buy. Anything that we know we do not like or wouldn't use, we will offer them to our families or just donate straight to a food bank. You can get your first Degustabox for only £5.99 using this link rather than the usual £12.99
Gousto is an incredible service which can fall in amazingly well with meal planning.After signing up and picking which meals you want Gousto will deliver the pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards to your home. The recipe cards are so easy to follow, you can even let the least accomplished cooker of the family prepare and cook the meal with little to worry about. We use Gousto as a alternative to take away, as it is so simple, tasty and healthy (if you sign up you can save money by using this code SAVE50).
I hope that you find these tips useful.