Updated: May 12, 2021
Planning in advance, shopping wisely and storing food are the three essential steps to keep the cost of food low. Follow these 6 ways to save money with meal planning to get the most out of your budget.
You can save a lot of time planning meals in advance. And time is money.
1. How to create a budget?
To create a budget divide your week's food money between meat, groceries, fruit and vegetables, cereals and grains etc. See where you tend to spend the most and keep this in mind for next time. Perhaps you will find a way to reduce that amount by substituting it with something else.
Before shopping, have a menu plan ready so that you know which ingredients you need to shop for. Your shopping list should be ingredient based and not meal based. Make a detailed shopping list for each week's worth of meal planning.
2. When to go shopping?
It is best to go shopping either on a Tuesday or on a Friday. The stores are not always fully stocked on Monday mornings as they haven't received the deliveries over the weekend. You don't want to go shopping during the weekend as there are too many people in the shops, and this delays you.
Try to stick to shopping for food no more than twice a week. Anymore and it is a waste of time, money and energy.
3. Buying fresh foods:
Perishable foods like meats and some vegetables can be bought three days in advance. For them to remain fresh, be sure to store the meats in the refrigerator and the vegetables in the cold room if you have one. We are lucky to have a cold room in the house that doubles as a pantry. We also have an extra refrigerator to store fresh meats.
Buy small portions of perishable foods to avoid cross contamination. If you can't store them longer or if there is no more space in your refrigerator, make sure to cook them and store them. You can also freeze them.
4. Buying dry foods:
Foods such as flour, dried beans and lentils, cereals and canned foods can last longer and also do not need to be refrigerated. Try to maintain the supply and shop no more than once every two months.
Canned foods can last quite a while as long as the cans are not damaged. Be sure to check for damage and leaks when shopping for canned foods.
5. Shop seasonally:
When you shop and eat seasonal produce, you tend to buy from the region around you. Not only is this better for the environment, but it's also easy on the wallet. Eating exotic foods from another part of the world regularly can really burn a hole in your wallet. Make it a weekend indulgence at best.
6. Grow what you can:
If you are lucky enough to have a small gardening space, then you can cut costs by growing easy vegetables. Carrots and radishes are easy to grow and fun for the kids too. If you live in an apartment, think about container gardening. A single container 2 feet long can give you four heads of lettuce. If you plan your planting, you can save a lot of money on herbs and salads.
Budgeting and planning your meals doesn't mean you can't experiment with new and exotic menus. It also doesn't mean you have to compromise on your health and nourishment. Cheaper is not always better, but if you plan properly and allow for occasional indulgences you will find that you can have your cake and eat it too.
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I love hearing from my readers. I would love to know your thoughts on budgeting and meal planning. Be sure to leave a comment down below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.