It’s a well-known fact that meal planning can help you lose weight, but did you know that it can also save you money? If you plan out your meals, including snacks and drinks, you can cut your grocery bill by as much as 20 percent in one month, and here’s how.
Cut down on extra stuff
When you meal plan everything right down to the soda you will be drinking, you know exactly what to buy. You know not to buy snack cakes because you aren’t eating those, or you know that you should buy chicken breasts for two dinners because you will be eating them. It’s basically a way to make a detailed shopping list as you watch your weight.
Cut down on wasted food
If you know you need to have baby carrots for only one dinner and porkchops to go with the carrots, you will buy just what you need for the portions you allow. No more bulk sizes on perishable foods! This will cut down on the amount of food you waste in a year, which will reduce your grocery bill.
Cut down on shopping and temptation time
When you know what foods you’ll be buying, you know where to go and you won’t be left wandering aisles after aisle looking for things to make for dinner. This will cut down on impulse buying, which can account for 1/3 of most grocery budgets for people who do it often. Meal plans help you stick to what you need to buy and nothing more.
Cut down on multiple trips
When you know what to get, you can buy it all in one trip instead of getting home only to find out you missed one or two items. This will slash gas costs for making multiple trips, or for going to multiple stores looking for food items you need. You can plan where you need to go based on what you need to buy to make your meal plan happen.
Cut down on fast food trips
When you;re sitting at home and you don’t know what to eat you’re more likely to run to a fast food place than to cook something. If you have a clearly defined meal plan in front of you, you already know what to make. Also, the meal plan is not rigid! You can swap Monday nights dinner for Thursday night’s dinner if that suits your palate more, but don’t go completely off the plan.
Tips: Plan all breakfast items first and then dinner. These will be the anchors of your meal plan. After, plan all of your snacks. For a proper meal plan you should have at least two snacks (one before and after lunch), then plan your lunch. After you write all of your items out, look at which can be used for other meals. For example, if you want chicken and rice for lunch on Tuesday, make chicken for dinner on Monday and use the left over chicken for your lunch. This will cut down on what you need to buy. After you’re done making a 7-day meal plan, write out all of the items (by day) that you need to buy to make the meals you have listed. Then, go through and cross out duplicates and add them to a master list. For instance, if you have apples as a snack for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you should write “3 apples” on your master list.