Are you wondering how to save money each month on your groceries? A monthly meal plan is one of the best ways to cut your monthly grocery budget. Here are some easy tips to help you save time and money.
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You may not even realize it but food can be one of the biggest expenses in your budget. Whether it’s buying food and not eating it or stopping at the drive-thru multiple times a month, either way, we are spending way more than we need to.
Meal Planning can be one of the easiest things that you can do when trying to save money. It takes away the stress of trying to figure out what to make after a busy day when all you want to do is plop down on the sofa with a good book or check out that new Netflix show you’ve been wanting to watch.
A meal plan saves your sanity on those nights because you are ahead of the game. You are prepared.
How a Monthly Meal Plan Works
⦁ You know exactly what you are going to have for dinner each night.
I don’t know how many times I have heard the question “What’s for dinner tonight, Mom?”
⦁ You are spending less time in the grocery store which is more money in your pocket.
You only have to do one big grocery shop and 3 small pick-up trips throughout the month.
⦁ Encourages you to eat at home instead of grabbing fast food after work.
Again, more money in your pocket to spend on something else or save for a rainy day.
You may be thinking…okay a meal plan sounds great and I want to save money, but who has time to think of a month’s worth of meals in one sitting?
I get it. It can definitely feel overwhelming when you think about it. It’s a lot of meals to plan for. But, it actually takes less time than you think. You can have a completed monthly meal plan in 30 minutes or less.
Imagine, no more worrying about what to have for dinner each night or stopping through the drive-thru and wrecking your budget.
I will show you exactly what you need to do to start monthly meal planning like a pro!
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How to get started with a Monthly Meal Plan
1. Grab a Calendar
The first thing I do before planning my monthly meal plan is to grab a pencil and paper or a printable blank calendar. The next thing that I do is sit down with my calendar and make notes of any appointments or times when I know that we are not going to be home to have dinner and write them down. This way you are not overbuying and wasting food.
2. Take Inventory
Then, I take inventory of what I have on hand. If I have any extra meat in the freezer that should be used up or leftover veggies or staples that I can use for any of my meals.
You may like: Frugal Pantry Staples for Easy Meals
3. Check Ads
I will usually check my grocery store’s circulars to see what is on sale for produce or meat. I buy my meat in bulk so I can get many meals out of it.
4. Theme Nights/ Favorite Meals
Then, I write down my theme nights on the top of the calendar.
This makes meal planning much easier because I am able to designate each day of the week into a certain theme. So, for instance, on Mondays, it’s Italian night so we may have spaghetti one week and baked rigatoni the next.
When I start thinking of meals, I will start with Monday and fill in all the Mondays with any Italian Meals that I want to have.
It’s helpful to have a list of your favorite meals so that you can use it for reference when making your meal plan. You can print out my Favorite Meals Printable, and fill out all the meals that your family loves.
Then, I will go through each day of the week doing the same thing.
Looking for quick and easy meal ideas to add to your meal plan?
- Best 20-Minute Meals for Busy Weeknights
- 85 Easy Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas
- 28 Easy Shortcut Rotisserie Chicken Dinner Ideas
- 35 Quick and Easy Ground Beef Dinner Ideas
Here is an idea of what my monthly meal plan looks like each month:
Best Monthly Meal Planning Tips
Keep it simple
One of the best tips that I can offer you is to keep it simple. Don’t plan meals that require tons of new ingredients that you may only use once. Find meals that the whole family will enjoy and that are simple and quick to prepare so you are not wanting to run to get fast food.
Change can happen
Remember your meal plan isn’t written in stone. You can change it and only use it as a guide. Whatever works for you! Meals can get changed around because life happens but at least you have a good idea of what you are having for a month.
Make it work for you
Shop when it’s convenient for you. A monthly meal plan will definitely save you time and stress because you are not having to worry about what to make for dinner every night.
But, if you find that shopping for an entire month is challenging because of unpredictable work or school schedules. You could still make a monthly meal plan but shop weekly. You will still save time and you are assured that you are not making the same meals week after week.
How I shop with a Monthly Meal Plan
I prefer to do a big grocery shop once a month because it saves me the most money.
I will budget $500 a month for groceries and extras such as toiletries and household supplies such as laundry detergent. The way that I shop for our groceries monthly is to budget the most money at the beginning of the month.
I spend $200 the first week (this will pay for our dinners for the month) and then with the remaining amount, I will divide it into the remaining 3 weeks. This will leave me with $100 to spend on produce, dairy, snacks, lunches, and breakfasts.
- When planning breakfast for the week, I usually plan cereal and oatmeal. Lunches are usually sandwiches or leftovers from the night before. This will help keep food costs down and allow you to save more money on groceries.
There you have it. An easy way to save time and money is just by planning out your meals for the month ahead so you are not scrambling at the last minute trying to think of dinner ideas.
Are you looking for ways to save on your groceries?
- 30 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries
- 6 Easy Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half
- 4 Best Grocery Apps to Save Money
- 15 Supermarket Spending Traps to Avoid
- 18 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Don’t forget to sign up for my Free Resource Library. You will find meal-planning printables and more. All are free to print out and enjoy.
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