Who doesn’t like to save money? Who doesn’t like to save money on their grocery budget? I’m pretty sure everyone does. Even if you buy organic, there are ways to save money! One of the best ways? By menu planning!
My friend Cery over at Back to our roots is here to save the day. Here are her 5 top ways to save money menu planning, so I’ll give it over to Cery!
5 Ways to Save Money by Menu Planning
As a child I didn’t think much about it, really. It’s just something my mom did every month. I thought it was in the Mom Handbook or something. Daddy got paid once a month and the food budget was extremely tight, but Mom had a knack for stretching that budget to the breaking point. The way she did it was menu planning.
At the end of every month Mom would go through her pantry and freezer and write down everything that was there. And with 4 kids in the family, that inventory never usually took her very long.
Then she took her lists and a yellow legal pad and got to work. First, she carefully drew out a calendar grid on the first clean page and numbered the days. Then she would mark any special days like birthdays and holidays, and any days where there were after school activities. When that was done, using her lists, she would begin to fill in the grid with meals she could put on the table using only what she had on hand.
After that, she began filling in the other days, making careful notes on another piece of paper that became her shopping list. Mondays were easy. Monday was always laundry and cleaning day and we always had pinto beans and cornbread. She could put those on in the morning and not mess with them again till dinner time. I can still remember laying in bed on Sunday nights and hearing the sound of the beans as she dropped them into the pot by handfuls as she picked through them. She’d soak them overnight, rinse the next morning, and put them on to cook. We didn’t eat fancy, but we did eat well. And food didn’t derail the family budget.
I have planned my menu monthly my whole adult life. Single, married, with kids, and without. Doesn’t matter if you get paid monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly. It will work and it will save you money.
#1. Menu Planning Reduces Spending
When you make a menu plan, you make a grocery list. Taking a list with you to the store keeps you from spending more than your budget allows. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go into the cart. Period. I could write a small book on how to avoid retailers’ clever schemes to get you to buy junk you don’t want or need. And maybe I should. 🙂 But for now, stick with your guns, and stick with your list.
#2. Menu Planning Reduces Waste
Let’s face it, none of us ever intends to throw money down the drain, but it does tend to happen. Especially with food. We end up with sad, moldy vegetables lurking in the back of the crisper drawer. Or meat that gets buried at the bottom of the freezer for so long its inedible. Menu planning allows you to see everything in your pantry, fridge, and freezer on a regular basis so you know what you have and what needs to be used. AND, you only buy stuff you have a plan for, so there shouldn’t be any extras hanging around in the crisper anyway. So you use everything you have and nothing ends up getting tossed because it went bad.
#3. Menu Planning Reduces Impulse Buying
This is a corollary to #1. When you make a menu plan, you should only need to go shopping on payday. So that means you only actually go into a grocery store once or twice a month. The fewer times you’re in the store, the fewer times you’ll be tempted to impulse buy. We all know that “just running in to grab some milk” or bread, or whatever, usually turns into so much more than just milk, or bread, or whatever. And that, my friends, will blow your grocery budget right out of the water!
#4. Menu Planning Gives You Free Lunches
The only thing I really remember from my economics class in college is TANSTAAFL. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. So many not free free, but close to it. When you have a menu plan, you make dinner every night. Or at least most nights. Dinner at night usually means leftovers. And leftovers need to be eaten. And you need to eat lunch. See where this is going? I like to portion out leftovers into single servings. Add a label and a date and maybe reheating instructions. Put in the fridge or freezer. And you have a grab and go lunch the next morning. These glass containers are my favorites for freezing lunches.
#5. Menu Planning Helps You Skip the Drive Thru
Commercial fast food not only takes a toll on our wallets, but on our waistlines and general health as well. Menu planning can keep you out of that drive thru lane. Because when you have a plan, you know (mostly) when your busy days are going to be. And you have something already in the crockpot at home. Or you planned some easy meals that can be on the table fast. Both of which are excellent reasons to skip that line!
Of course, menu planning saves you more than just money. It saves you time and stress as well. No more trying to figure out what to cook when you’re already tired and hungry, and the kids are cranky, and the dog ate one of your favorite shoes while you were gone. Because that would be a pizza delivery night at my house for sure! And let’s just think about how much real food you can buy with the money a delivery pizza costs…
Menu planning saves you money. You saves you time. It reduces your stress levels. It allows you to stretch your grocery budget so you have food for the whole month. It enables you to make better, healthier food choices for you and your family. And it brings families back to the dinner table. That sounds like a win-win to me! 🙂
For tips on how to start menu planning head on over to my blog to see more!
Hi y’all! I’m Cery. I am an author, teacher, entrepreneur, and lover of Jesus. I’m learning to live a simpler, more self-sufficient lifestyle. I teach all kinds of forgotten skills that I like to call “homecrafts”. You can learn more at my blog at Back to Our Roots.