The biggest saver of money in our food budget doesn’t include clipping coupons or buying in bulk. It only takes 10 minutes or less to do and involves a quick view of our week ahead and checking what I already have at home. It’s not a secret and it’s easy to do. With regular weekly meal planning, you’ll save money but you’ll also save by making fewer trips to the grocery store and it will help in reducing food waste. Anytime I can save on money, time, and resources in our monthly budget, I do it.
11 Reasons to Meal Plan Every Week
- Have a plan: by writing down what to make for dinner and having a meal plan, I base what I am going to buy on what I know I have in my refrigerator or freezer and what is on sale and then make my grocery list from the meal plan.
- Post it: by posting our meal plan on our refrigerator everyone (my kids and husband) can make dinner without me having to be at home to tell them what’s for dinner. There’s also no one asking me, “What’s for dinner?” because they just look at the dinner menu.
- Keep it simple: elaborate dinners are for special occasions and our daily meals taste great but are not elaborate. By keeping the plan simple, making dinner takes 20-30 minutes from start to finish and that’s without a microwave oven.
- Buy what’s in season and on sale: buying what’s on sale at the store by reviewing the newspaper ads allows me to purchase fruits and vegetables that are on sale. These are usually the same ones that are in season. By listing “vegetable” on my meal plan, I can take advantage of what’s fresh and on sale.
- No-frills grocery store: by doing the majority of our grocery shopping at a no-frills store where I have to bag the stuff myself, I’m getting the best prices without the hassle of coupons. No coupons for this frugal gal!
- Prevention: meal planning keeps me from having to go to the grocery store at the last minute or at the dinner hour when the store is at its busiest.
- Save money: because we have a plan for dinner, we can avoid going out to restaurants or picking up fast food. While I wish for a scullery maid to clean-up after me when cooking, it’s one of those jobs that gets done quickly once you get started. It’s also more enjoyable with a glass of wine and someone to visit with while cleaning up!
- Keep it healthier at home: by cooking at home, we’re able to avoid processed foods and we eat much healthier meals than if we ate out all the time or bought pre-packaged foods.
- Work the leftovers: meals can incorporate leftovers easier when they’re planned for. By cooking one night, the next night often times mean a simpler version or variation of the previous night’s dinner. If the diner tasted great the first night, it will taste even better the second night because no one needs to cook!
- Keep track of kids cooking: If you have kids , around 6th-grade (or when you’re about 11 to 12-years old) in our family, you earn the privilege of cooking dinner once a week. You also clean-up after cooking. The only way I can keep track of when my kid’s are scheduled to cook dinner is when I write it down on our my meal plan. (I wish I could tell you that my kids want to cook dinner every week or that they remind me when they haven’t signed up to cook their meal for the week but that’s not true. They are usually trying to get out of it or hope that I somehow forget!)
- Reduce food waste: by only purchasing the food I know we’ll eat for the week and utilizing our freezer, the amount of food we waste is almost non-existent.
Meal planning every week saves our family money but it also saves me in trips to the grocery store both in time and resources. Anytime I can save on money, time, and resources in our monthly budget, for a 10 minute investment, I do it.
A PDF version of our weekly meal plan is here: Dinner Menu print on the both sides and you’ll get 4 dinner menus for each sheet of paper.
Do you meal plan or just wing it? What’s your method?
Go Gingham related links:
National Match-Up Day: A step-by-step on how to clean and organize your food storage containers!
Grocery shopping from the bulk bins and food storage containers
Reusing glass jars and how to get them ready for re-use
Frugal grocery shopping – without coupons!