I’ll be the first to hold up my hands and say I am rubbish at meal planning, but it’s something we should all be doing if we need to watch the pennies. In theory it’s a great idea but personally I need a push in the right direction to put it into practise. That’s why I am delighted that Tony who writes at Thrifty Husband has written a special guest post introducing the concept and how to implement it. Thrifty Husband is about saving money, making extra money and living a more comfortable life so that Tony and his wife Emma can afford the luxuries they want instead of just paying the bills.
Over to Tony…
What is meal planning?
Meal planning is as simple as it sounds, planning your meals in advance. You can plan a few days ahead, a week or even a month in advance. Personally, I only plan for a week in advance.
Meal planning helps you to save money by
- Using up the ingredients that you already have.
- Only buying ingredients you need for the meals planned.
- Reducing anything that might be wasted, such as forgotten ingredients in cupboards or wilting vegetables at the back of the fridge.
How to meal plan like a pro
To meal plan effectively you will first need to know what you have already. This can mean a search through your cupboards, fridge and freezer, with pen and paper, as you wouldn’t want to forget what you have. It isn’t an uncommon sight at all to see me sat on a cushion in front of our fridge/freezer writing down everything that we have in. This part can save you so much money as you can find items you have forgotten about at the back of the cupboard or freezer that you would have ended up buying goodness knows how many times until you found it.
Knowing exactly what you have allows you to more effectively plan out what you can make and what you fancy. For those with families it is a great idea to get everyone involved, so they can have their say on what meals they want or even what meals they can create from what you already have. For those who truly want to plan you can even decide what you will have for breakfast and lunch!
Once the meals are all planned then unless you have a very good memory then you will want them written down where you will not forget about them. A small whiteboard that can be attached to a fridge is ideal and incredibility useful, but a scrap of paper will do just as well…just don’t lose it!
If you are ever wanting to save yourself a bit more money then you can even set yourself a little challenge by only using the items you have in, other than fresh food items like fruit and veg.
Once you have your meal plan, it is time to write your shopping list and go shopping. Unfortunately, this can be where you will end up spending more money than you wanted to as supermarkets do have clever marketing campaigns and tactics to help part you with your money. Be careful to resist temptation with these top tips:
- Make a list and stick to it.
- Only take a set amount of cash that would cover what you need.
- Shop online if you don’t trust yourself and you are going to spend enough for delivery.
Other temptations to your carefully thought out meal plan and money saving can be the takeaway! You can save money by making your own home made take away style meal using ingredients you have, for example you can make burgers out of mince meat and cut your own chips or wedges from potatoes.
Extra money saving
There are plenty of ways in which to save money when meal planning, especially when you start combining different methods. Some of my favourite ones are money saving apps such as Checkoutsmart, Shopmium and GreenJinn. These apps allow you to buy an item for a reduced rate or even for free. These apps work by showing you items on offer at certain stores. Pick them up and then upload your receipt to receive cashback. This cashback sometimes covers the entire cost of the product! Make sure that you keep your receipts looking good and you upload them quickly. These offers and freebies could be for the items you need in a meal you are planning. They are also a great way to get a few treats – we have had fruit ciders and even chocolate for free!
I hope that you have found my meal planning tips useful.
Thanks very much to Tony for these brilliant tips, do you meal plan? Is it something you are planning to do? Let me know if you have any other tips to add.
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