Groceries are one of the biggest expenses of most households. While you may think that there’s nothing you can really do to lower your costs, there is one thing that will make a huge difference. Meal plans allow you to create menus that reduce waste and save you money. Whether you create a meal plan that uses the same ingredients in different meals or base menus on what you have on hand, meal plans will save you money.
Plan Meals That Use the Same Ingredients
Wasting food is a huge issue in America. It is estimated that 50% of the food we buy goes to waste. Instead of allowing vegetables and leftovers to go to waste, create a meal plan that uses the same ingredients. For example, if you’re going to be making a salad one night for dinner, also plan to have tacos later in the week. This way you use the lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes in two meals.
Make Menus Flexible
One problem people seem to have with planned meals is that they don’t want the menu item for that day. This is why you need your menu to be flexible. A good rule of thumb is to keep some heat and eat meals on hand in case you don’t want what you had planned or you’re running short on time.
Cook in Bulk for the Future
Another wonderful tip is to cook in bulk and freeze meals for the future. These frozen meals can be reheated on the nights that you don’t feel like cooking. However, you need to make sure and use the frozen meals within a short amount of time. If you notice your freezer starting to overflow with the meals you’ve prepared in the past, start working them into your menu.
Base Menus on What You Have on Hand
Something else you can do to prevent spending to much money is to plan meals around what you already have on hand. While it may be time consuming at first, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you have on hand and update it as you use items or buy more. This allows you to easily plan meals around what’s in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry.
Get Family Recommendations
Last, but not least, if you want planned meals to be successful, it’s important to get ideas from your family. For example, your husband may choose dinner one night, while your son chooses for another. This helps ensure that everyone is happy with the menu selections.
Stop wasting money on food you don’t eat. Instead of going to the store without a plan, create a meal plan that allows you to save money.
About the Author: Jaye Whitsey the official menu planner for his family. He loves putting thought into a well-rounded and balanced plan for his family to follow each week!