Budgeting, saving money and planning is required in each and every aspect of our lives and this especially proves correct when we talk about not wasting food and saving money on our meals.
A huge chunk of our paycheck goes towards buying groceries. So, if we keep an item in the pantry and forget about it then it is a direct loss for us.
I don’t ask you to buy in little quantity, you should always buy in bulk but this bulk shopping should be smart shopping.
You need to make a list of how much you can consume in a months’ time and then buy those things in bulk which last for more than a year and for rest of the perishable items you need to maintain a list.
Well, this is exactly what I will be explaining to you in this read so all you need to do is simply follow these steps and Save a huge amount on meal planning.
Step 1: See what you Already have in your Pantry or Fridge
The very first thing that you need to do is check your stock and see what you already have and we need to avoid those products going to waste.
So, get on to it, search your pantry and fridge and make a list of all the items in it. You need the start consuming the products which are near expiry and discard the expired ones.
Step 2: Take out the Products which you can No Longer Use
Well, this might be a shocking process for you as you not only need to take the expiry products but you also need to make a list of how much you spent on these products.
If the total comes for more than $100 then this is your very first Red Signal, you never would want to face this condition again (Trust me, I too have been there).
So now we will focus on shopping in a smart way.
Step 3: Clean your Pantry and Fridge
As we all need a New Year for a new start so let this cleaning process be a new start for your pantry and fridge.
Take out everything, clean the spaces thoroughly and now start stocking up your pantry and fridge systematically.
Top shelf: Keep those items on the top shelf which you need to consume in a day or two.
Second Shelf: The items that still have a shelf life of a week can be kept in this space.
Third Shelf: All the products which can last for more than 2 weeks need to be placed on the third shelf.
Last Shelf: All the canned products which generally have a shelf life for a year need to be kept in this space so that you can easily consume them in the coming few months.
Why this Separation of groceries?
After watching your Hundreds of bucks going to waste, I don’t think that you would want this to happen again.
So, you need to start keeping a check of your inventory and divide the things that you own on different shelves.
The things in front of your eyes will get consumed easily and you will know exactly how much you own, so you won’t do any extra, unwanted shopping.
Note: In Step 3 you need to Focus on-
- Calculating the amount that you have spent (actually wasted) on the expired products.
- Understanding how much you lost and wasted away.
- Separating the non-expiry products according to their usage.
- Turning this into a weekly clean-out activity and Saving a LOT on Groceries.
Step 4: How to Understand the Perishability of Products
It too was difficult for me on getting a hand of things and it took me a lot of time to be able to handle my kitchen well.
So, it is better that I share all of my successful experiences with you and help you in sorting out your meal planning to save money.
In this process, a fact to focus on is that vegetables don’t come with an expiry date so it becomes difficult for us to understand whether they are still good to consume or we need to throw them away.
Hence, below mentioned are the images that enlist almost all of our daily use items and with its help, you can start sorting out your vegetable inventory.
Use the ingredients in order of their perishability so, the items that are about to turn bad in just a few days or hours’ time can be consumed first.
Step 5: Use Overlapping Ingredients
Step 5 lays emphasis on understating your food and your meal plan.
Most of the times we use such ingredients which can be used in a lot many dishes and it is the right time that we realize the importance of the same.
All you have to do is notice and plan your meals according to the ingredients.
For example: if you’re planning to have a meal that includes curry, fajitas, an omelet, pasta and a stir-fry, then you can use a lot of the same vegetables in all of these dishes.
This will prove to be an effective way in meal planning to save money and there are many benefits of bringing this into practice as:
- You will save money on bulk buying of these ingredients.
- All the perishable products will get consumed hence there will be (almost) no wastage.
- It will take lesser time to plan meals and execute them as you can chop all the required vegetables in one go.
So avoid using special ingredients which you might not be able to use in any other recipe in the near future.
Step 6: Buy in Sales and use Coupons
It’s like the most common and easily understandable thing of all time that buying in Sales and using Coupons is way better to opt for your lifestyle than shopping at full price.
The sooner you understand and implement this thing, the better it will be for you and also keep a note that you need to plan your meals according to the products on sale.
So, don’t shy away if you get to know about any ongoing sale and instead plan on making the most of it.
Step 7: Use Apps to Save Money on Grocery
If, how to meal plan to save money? Is your question then these apps to save money on groceries is your answer.
All you need to do is install these Free apps and start saving in various ways.
So, please go through this read to understand better about how these Savings apps work and what can be the best way for you to save money on groceries.
If you already don’t use any of these apps then trust me, you will be surprised after looking at the money that you save after shopping for groceries.
And on a plus side, few of these apps come with a feature where you can write down and wish list your entire recipe.
This process makes it easy for you to buy all the required products and you won’t miss out any important ingredient.
Also, you won’t have to worry about carrying the hard copy of your shopping list.
Step 8: Cook your meals in Bulk on Sundays
(Or any other day that suits your schedule)
One of the most important life hacks that my Mom taught me is all about food and how effectively I can save time by cooking meals smartly.
She taught me that I should bulk cook my meals on a Sunday and deep freeze them for the rest coming days of the week.
It is extremely cost-effective as you won’t waste money on gas and water and you won’t be wasting your time daily on cooking as well.
This has proved to be the best way when you want to meal plan to save money and the even better part is that your groceries don’t go to waste.
Just take out the casseroles, heat them up in a microwave and eat away!
Step 9: Don’t waste Leftovers
Leftovers are like the Bonus curly fries in our regular fries which we do not order but sometimes we are lucky enough to get them by chance.
So, don’t look at the leftovers like the food that is about to get wasted instead, look at it as an opportunity of not having to cook another meal.
You can use the leftover vegetables as they can be added to a salad, stir-fry or soup, while larger cuts of meat can be used for stews and casseroles.
This was just an example and with your pro cooking skills you can try out new things while making a new dish out of the leftovers and if you don’t want to experiment with it then they can be consumed as it is.
Always be happy that you have leftovers and try to make the most of it as this is one of the most unexpected yet interesting ways to save money on meal planning.
Step 10: Stick to your Shopping List
One of the best ways of sticking to your shopping list is- Never go empty stomach to buy Groceries because you end up buying more stuff when you’re hungry.
And this has been proven scientifically, as when you’re hungry you get allured and attracted by food more easily and you end up buying more.
Apart from this scientific fact, you need to use your presence of mind as well so, make a list before you go shopping and pick only those items that are on that list.
You can make this list on a note pad or on your mobile but make sure to jot down everything at such a place which is always with you so, mobile proves to be a better option for the same.
Restrict yourself from impulse buying and try to avoid any alluring offers given by sales executives at retail stores.
You need to know your meal planning, know your fridge and most importantly know your bank balance.
Step 11: Buy Seasonal Vegetables and Fruits
It is always a smart move to buy the vegetables which are produced in the season as they are supplied in bulk hence, they cost lesser and are fresh as well so they won’t lack in nutrition.
Often out of season fruits and vegetables are sold on higher prices which we don’t compare or realize and that puts a dent on our meal planning to save money.
So, even if you’re a grown up then also you can ask your mom about the same or take the help of sales executives to understand your fruits and vegetables better.
Understand and gather knowledge about seasonal vegetables and try to consume only them when they are on bulk supply.
And if you want a better solution in saving money on buying these veggies then the next step is just for you.
Step 12: Grow Your Own Food
Why buy organic fruits and vegetables from the store when you can grow your own food at home?!
Kitchen windows or backyards can also be utilized to save money on meal planning as there are various veggies which can be easily grown at home and they don’t require any extra care from your end.
You can grow almost anything and everything in your backyard from carrots to basil to potatoes, onions and tomatoes and even seasonal vegetables.
Buy the seeds which come for cheap, dig a hole in your backyard and start utilizing your gardening skills.
If you feel like you’re not an expert in the same then also you need not worry, as all you have to do is plant the seed and keep on watering it according to the requirement of that vegetable.
All these veggies are easy to grow and consume and if you require any further help then internet is at your disposal.
Step 13: Stock Seasonal Vegetables to Use Later
At times there are your favorite veggies which are sold a higher rate in the off season so it is better for you to freeze those vegetables in the freezer and use them later.
The process of freezing these veggies is easy and it varies for different vegetables so with the help of the internet you can learn how to store them for a longer run.
Try not to buy at a higher rate instead, stock these vegetables and save money.
Message from One Home Maker to Another:
Note: (Even if you’re woman/man, single/couple, working/homemaker then too you fall under this category)
I’m sure that after going through this entire read you too must have become (or at least feel like) a Pro in Meal Planning to Save Money.
So, share this article with your family and friends and help them along while you are helping yourselves.
And also, if you have any other trick that you use in saving money on meal planning then please leave it for me in the comment section below, I would love giving you the reference courtesy!
Let’s help each other guys as Every Buck Counts so lets together Save the most of it.