When in doubt, lean on the experts. Today’s fantastic tips were contributed by guest blogger, Missy Rakes. You can find more tips on meal planning and budget meals from Missy at the Graceful Little Honey Bee.
If you aren’t menu planning, please start right away. Planning your meals based on what you already have and the weekly sales is an extremely effective way to cut grocery costs. Everyone has a different system for menu planning. I print a blank calendar every month and keep it on my fridge so I can fill in the meals each week before I go to the store.
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Use the following 6 steps to plan your weekly menus and save money:
1. Gather supplies – You’ll need a pen and paper for the grocery list (or your smartphone), family recipes, coupons, sales flyers and monthly menu plan sheet.
2. Fill in holidays, birthdays, trips, and planned events that include meals on menu calendar – (Note: I only plan my dinners because we eat leftovers for lunch and basic items such as bananas and yogurt for breakfast, but it might work better for your family to plan all of your meals. Do what works best for your family.) At this point, add all ingredients to your grocery list that must be bought if you are bringing a dish or hosting the meal.
3. Check Current Sales Flyers: The best way to save is to plan your meals around sale priced items each week. Save even more when using coupons that match the sales.
4. Begin filling in the blanks – Transfer any meals on the plan that weren’t made to the next week. Also, it’s cost effective to make as many meals as you can from ingredients you already have on hand. As you’re adding meals, you need to be simultaneously adding the ingredients that you’ll need for those meals to your grocery list. I keep my recipe box on hand to help fill in the blanks. It’s also useful to look back over your old menu plans for ideas.
5. Look through pantry – When my meal plan is complete, I go through my pantry to see what staples, snacks, breakfast items, cleanings supplies, etc. I need to add to my list. It’s also useful to keep a blank pad in the kitchen so you can add supplies as you run out throughout the week.
6. Go shopping! At this point, your menu plan and grocery list should be complete. It’s time to start shopping! I always use cash because it’s easier for me to stay on budget that way.
This is the system that I’ve found to work best for me right now. Are you menu planning for the 30-day Meals @ Home this Month Challenge? Chime in with your strategies in the comments below. I hope you can find what works best for you and your family! Happy menu planning!
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