(Stacey is a guest blogger from The Soccer Mom Blog.)
In addition to “wife” and “mama,” I also hold the title of “accountant” for our family. I’ve always considered myself be financially responsible, but after I became a stay at home mom and our family went from two incomes to one, we really had to keep our budget in check. When my husband and I sat down to evaluate our spending, I was shocked to see that our biggest expense (by far) was FOOD. I couldn’t believe we spent that much just to eat, without even thinking about it!
My husband and I decided to make a commitment to meal planning — the goal was to save as much money as possible, while still eating real food. Though it was a bit of a learning process at first, we eventually were able to reduce our monthly food spending by over $1200. The results had such a big impact on our family, that I wrote a blog post to share what we had learned. The response was overwhelming, and I found myself a source of inspiration for many families in similar situations on how to do realistic meal planning (I even wrote my first ebook Secrets to a Successful Single Income Budget about it!)
If you’ve been thinking about meal planning, or even if you already do, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for success. Read on for my top DOs (and one DON’T) of meal planning.
1. DO take inventory of what you have on hand before you plan your menu. You won’t want to accidentally buy duplicates of produce and things that will go bad before you can finish them.
2. DO make sure you have the tools for success. Large freezer bags and reusable storage containers are a must to be able to buy in bulk when you find an awesome deal.
3. DO cook a little extra. I like to joke that my husband cooks enough for an army, but it is so nice to have plenty of leftovers the next day (and the next day!) It makes lunchtime a breeze and nothing goes to waste!
4. DO eat the same thing for breakfast every day. It might sound boring, but taking the guesswork out of breakfast means that you can stock up to save money AND you can get yourself and the kids ready quickly in the morning. I’ll switch things up from week to week to keep it interesting: one week might be scrambled eggs and spinach, the next might be waffles with peanut butter and bananas.
5. DON’T grocery shop hungry. You’ll be much more likely to give in to impulse purchases when your stomach is growling! In this article, I primarily wanted to offer ideas you can do, but this point is so important it needs mentioning. Any time I go to the grocery store without eating, I always end up spending more than I intended. Packing a snack or bringing a drink can help take the edge off and keep your shopping trip on track.
With the basic groundwork in place, beginning a meal planning routine will be much easier than you think! Once you get into the habit and start saving money AND time, I’m willing to bet you’ll be just as hooked as we are!