Lets face it, one of our biggest expenses outside of our mortgages is the cost of keeping our bellies full. Unfortunately, eating is a necessity. We have to get food, and most of us aren’t willing to eat other peoples garbage.
There are tons of ways you can save money on groceries like growing a garden, clipping coupons, buying bulk, and tracking cyclical prices. While these are all great ways to reduce your costs they should all be parts of a bigger plan.
Plans are the keys to success in just about everything we do. Football teams plan for the next game, architects draw up plans to build a skyscraper, and you should plan your meals in advance to save you time and money.
Here are the steps you should take weekly or monthly to maximize your savings and save some time.
Plan your meals
This is the first and most important step. Sit down and plan out your meals for the next week, two weeks, or month. This should include both the main course and the side(s). If you make your lunches every day and cook breakfast, make sure you include those meals in the plan.
By the time you are finished you should have a list of at least seven days of meals that should look something like this:
|Lunch||Bologna and Pickles||Tuna Salad||Left Overs||Ham and Cheese, Snack Pack||Left Overs||BLT||Brunch w/ inlaws|
|Dinner||Lasagna||Grilled Pork Chops, Rice, and Green Beans||Beer Butt Chicken, Potatoes, Broccoli||Chicken Pot Pie||Chicken Noodle Soup||Hot Dogs, Salad, Chips||Eat Out|
Make a list
Now you need to sit down with your plan and write down every ingredient you will need throughout the week to make you meals. Be sure to include any staples you may need like bread, milk, orange juice, or cereal. This is why planning your meals in advance is so great. You can easily make a list of everything you need for the week and not have to worry about forgetting anything.
Check it twice
Now that you have a list the first thing you should do is go through the list and determine what you already have. Go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Mark off every item you already own and don’t need to buy. This will help you eliminate duplicate purchases.
Find the deals
For the remaining items on your list start researching the best prices available in your area. This usually means looking through the Sunday circulars to find the best bargain for your buck. Once you have located the best deals, circle them and stack your circulars up. You won’t need to drive all over town to get the best deals, just take the circulars to Wal-Mart and have them do a price match.
Hunt for coupons
This might take you a little bit of time, but coupons are free money so get to work. Online coupons are all the rage these days, and both stores and manufacturers are getting in on the game. I like to sit down with my list and find as many coupons as possible. I scour the internet for any coupons related to those products, print them off, and take them with me.
Go alone, shop swiftly
Now you just need to load up your coupons, circulars, list, and money. Head off to the store, but go alone. You already know what you need, and bringing another person will only distract you. Move swiftly through your list picking up only those items you have identified as needs. I say swiftly because the longer you linger, the more time you have to be tempted by ads and wandering thoughts.
Once you get to the checkout line, put your stuff on the belt, but leave anything you want to price match until the end. Put the circulars on these items so your intentions are clear. Finally, pay your bill and get out of Dodge.
If you actually take a bit of time to sit down and go through each of these steps, you’re guaranteed to save yourself both time at the store and money in your pocket. An added benefit is you get to prevent the inevitable question… “What are we going to have for dinner tonight, dear?”
Do you have any tips for planning meals in advance?