I always talk about how important it is to plan ahead when you are on a weight loss journey. There are too many temptations out in the world, and a girl has to be properly equipped if she plans on living a long, happy, healthy life. I don’t only plan ahead to stick to a healthier lifestyle, I also plan ahead in order to budget my grocery money. As a full time college student on a hostess wage, I don’t have much to work with. I have to make the most out of what I have and what I buy. One of the tricks I’ve learned comes from all the frugal mommies out there and that trick is, meal planning.
I don’t go crazy and do the whole couponing thing. Frankly, I don’t have the time for it, but I do make sure I look at all the weekly circulars and compare prices on my staple items (chicken, frozen veggies, canned beans/tuna, apples, eggs). I make sure to look in my cupboards to see what I have on hand and then I hit the beautiful world of Pinterest, all recipes.com and my ToneItUp binder to come up with recipe ideas with those items. This helps save me money because each month I am only really buying my staple items with a few ingredients here and there to help complete my recipe ideas for that week/month.
I’ve been meal planning for a few months and I love what it has done for my budget and life, so of course I am going to share with you all a few tips you can use if you plan on starting to meal plan.
1. Decide what your grocery budget is and stick with it. Like I said, the decision I made to begin meal planning wasn’t only about eating healthy, I also wanted to stretch my $100/month grocery budget. If you ever plan on getting out of debt or moving away from living pay check to pay check you need to set a budget for every aspect of your life and food should be #1 on that list. The damage at the grocery store can add up really fast.
2. Check your cupboards, freezer and fridge and make a list of what you already have and still need before you head out to the grocery store. I don’t know how many times I have bought frozen veggies and rice because I thought I was out only to find that I have 5 bags just sitting at home. When you don’t know what you have, you end up spending unnecessary money.
3. Visit Pinterest, recipe websites or look in any cookbooks you have for recipe ideas. A lot of times we think we need to go grocery shopping because we don’t know what to make for dinner. The truth is you can make a really healthy, tasty meal with only 3 items. You just have to get a little creative. Listen, if you are not creative, there are a lot of other people in the world who are, and chances are, they blog about it.
4. Get a hold of your weekly grocery circulars and shop around for the best deal. Keep in mind that grocery stores are always in competition with each other. One week Trader Joes might have a deal on apples and the next week Walmart might. Its important that you know who has the better deal when its time for you to go grocery shopping. Yes, it might mean you will have to visit a few stores in one day but especially if you buy in bulk, you will save so much money and get more product for less.
5. Plan your meals. This is really where the losing weight aspect of meal planning comes into play. At the beginning of every week, Sunday or Monday, sit down with a calendar or planner. Based on the recipes you found and the food you bought or have, start planning out your lunch and dinners for that week. Not only will this save you so much time during the week but it also prevents you from being tempted to indulge in pizza 3 nights out of the week. You don’t have to specifically decide what you will have each night, even just having a list of possible meals you can make at home will save you time, money and calories.
How many of you already meal plan?