By now you probably know that meal planning is kind of my jam. I LOVE to talk about how much meal planning can make a difference in making meals easier and less stressful in your busy mama life- but did you know meal planning is also one of the BEST things you can do to reduce your grocery spending (no matter what your budget is– even if you don’t have a budget at all!).
Meal planning is the first step in planning what we’re going to buy- and having a strategic list can make a world of difference when it comes to our habits at the grocery store. But HOW we meal plan matters- here are four hacks to meal plan to spend less on groceries.
Hack #1: Plan for just five days. Life happens- plan for it! Planning for just five days means we have the flexibility to move things around if need be so we’re actually USING what we buy, even if life gets in our way. It helps to avoid food waste- which is one of the reasons we can feel like we’re spending SO much, but still struggling to make meals work. This brings me to hack #2…
Hack #2: Use the same protein twice. Not only does this save us money- but it makes your life easier, too (win-win!). Making one larger protein (one whole chicken, a roast, a pot of beans, shredded meat for instance) or doubling up the amount you buy (buying two pounds vs. one pound of ground beef- it’s typically cheaper when you get it from the butcher, rather than in individual packages) and using it in two meals will stretch your dollar and make the next night’s meal easier.
Hack #3: Plan with similar ingredients. I’m all about having variety in our meals for flavor and nutrition- but if you’re finding yourself with lots of odds and ends in your fridge at the end of the week (that inevitably go bad), try planning with similar ingredients. This works great for sides and ingredients in soups, stews, stir-fries, etc. This way, you can buy in ‘bulk’ (as in, a bag of sweet potatoes vs. individual- which is almost always less per pound) and/or use up what you buy instead of buying two different sides. This doesn’t mean you need to eat the same thing day in and day out- it’s being strategic about using the same ingredient more than once- for instance, one night making my beef and butternut squash chili, using the rest of the squash in my butternut squash and making my chickpea, kale and squash coconut curry– then using the rest of the kale in my sweet potato, kale and beef stew– or if you’re prepping ahead, cook those chickpeas instead of using canned and use the extra in my maple balsamic quinoa and kale salad for easy lunches.
Hack #4: Plan with what you have, FIRST. The last hack is probably the MOST important hack– and that’s to use what you have, first. This doesn’t have to take a ton of time- it’s simply going in your fridge (always fridge first) and deciding what you need to use- and using those items in your meal plan, first. The same goes for your pantry and freezer- this is not a full inventory, just a glance- “What can I use in meals this week??”. Using what you have is a GUARANTEED money-saver.
Ok, your turn– choose one of these hacks to use in your meals this week! Share with me how it works for you over on Instagram!
Ready to eat well and spend less? Learn all of my best strategies and how to make them work for YOUR family in Healthy Mama on a Budget.