What meal planning really saves: time, money and most importantly sanity
(photo credit: SuperGlue Mom)
Have you ever stared into the fridge at 5pm wondering what in the world to make for dinner?
Have you ever ordered take out or delivery pizza because you didn’t have the right ingredients available (or thawed) to make dinner?
Have you ever made multiple trips to the store each week because you needed one or two ingredients to complete your meal?
The bad news, these habits are wasting time and money. The good news, they can be fixed with one simple change.
I often tell people that meal planning saved my sanity and my budget. Before I learned how to meal plan, I was easily spending $1200 a month on groceries for my family of six. After I committed to making a meal plan and sticking to it, I was able to cut my grocery bill to less than $600 a month!
Meal planning saves time.
Every week I spend 30 to 45 minutes creating our family’s meal plan. I plan breakfasts and dinners, with lunch in our house being an on-your-own thing. I check store sales and my pantry to find the most budget friendly meals for the week. I also check last week’s plan to make sure we aren’t having the same foods too often, unless they’re a favorite.
I write out the week’s plan and then create a shopping list based on my plan. I cut coupons (or load them to my phone) and within an hour I’m finished thinking about meals for the rest of the week.
Every morning during breakfast, I make sure everything is ready for tomorrow night’s meal. This allows time for meat to thaw, beans to soak, or any other prep to be done.
Planning also makes shopping faster and easier. Instead of walking up and down the aisles looking for potential dinner items, I grab my list, buy the items I need and check out.
Meal planning saves money.
Planning allows me to shop from my pantry, buy meats when they are at rock bottom prices, and get the best prices on food. When you are planning dinner thirty minutes before it’s time to eat you are often forced to rely on convenience food which is more expensive.
Planning allows me to avoid last minute trips to the store or eating out because there is always something available for dinner in my home.
Planning helps me stick to my list. I only buy what I need, and usually when it is on sale. It helps avoid those impulse purchases because I know that sticking to my list will keep me under budget.
Planning saves my sanity.
“What’s for dinner?” is a phrase I hear several times a day in my house when I don’t have a plan. Instead of being pestered with the same questions over and over, I simply stick the meal plan on the fridge and everyone knows what we are eating all week.
I’m also not frazzled during the “witching hour” because I know what we are eating and usually it has already been prepped and started.
Since my children help with meal planning they are happy with the dinner plan because they helped with the process. There are fewer complaints and whining during the dinner hour, and we are eating together as a family more often.
Meal planning is a simple way to save time, money, and your sanity. Take thirty minutes and start today!
The Happy Housewife, where she blogs about practical ways to live well, save more and have fun. Toni is a military wife and stay-at-home (schooling) mom to seven kids. She is also a Savings.com DealPro and teaches Savings Nation workshops that help people learn how to save up to 50% off their grocery bills.