Let’s say you woke up this morning and realized you had an extra $500 in your bank account! What would you do with it?
An extra $500! This could be your reality!
Do you know how much your family spends on food each month? That includes all the stops for snacks or fast food. If you don’t know already, you are going to be shocked when you tally up the numbers!
On average, a family of four in America spends $800-$1,000 a month on food. That is probably even a little conservative! If this happens to be where your spending falls, I have the perfect solution for you!
Meal planning is how we reduced our family’s food spending from $900 down to under $400 a month and that is for a family of 5!
Here is why you are going to fall in love with meal planning!
UPDATE: Pennies Into Pearls has a brand new meal planner and it’s all available through the Meal Planning on a Budget Toolkit! Sign up below to get your FREE toolkit ASAP!
Saves You Time
Have you ever found yourself walking aimlessly through the grocery store trying to put together some dinner ideas for the week? Oh man! I have done this and by the end of the shopping trip I feel exhausted! Mostly because this type of shopping adds on way more time than is needed!
Use a meal planner!
Have a plan before you go shopping! It sounds small and that’s because it is! Just doing this one little step before you make your way to the grocery store is going to save you a lot of time! Not just while you’re shopping but also throughout your week. You won’t find yourself at 5pm on Wednesday night standing hopelessly in front of your fridge wondering what you can whip together before the kids start to fall apart from hunger.
Keeps You on Budget
To save you even more money, while you are making your meal plan for the week you can also start putting together your grocery list. With each grocery item put next to it approximately what you think it is going to cost at the store. I like adding the cost that way I know if I am staying within budget. If my list adds up to be too much money, Ill go back through my meal planner and see if there are any more costly items that can be substituted for something that is on sale.
Saves You Stress
Before we had kids deciding on what’s for dinner wasn’t quiet such a big deal. My nightly routine would go something like this. I would come home from work, open the cupboard, the fridge, and/or the freezer. Maybe go back to the couch and look through a few cookbooks or online to see what sounded good. Once I had an idea in my mind, I would find my way back into the kitchen and start putting something together.
This is NOT an option these days! With two little munchkins running around trying to think of dinner last minute just brings on a major anxiety attack for everyone involved! The kids usually wake up about 1-2 hours before we eat. That doesn’t leave much time for me to prep and cook before the “melt down hour” begins.
If I have already done my meal planning, I know what I am making for dinner that night, I can get any prep work done while they are taking naps or earlier that morning. Leaving me with less than 20 minutes of cooking while the kids are awake. This gives me the opportunity to help distract those hungry little tummies until dinner is ready to be served. Stress averted!
Saves You Money
It’s 5pm and you don’t know what’s for dinner. You’re too exhausted from your busy day and spending the next 30 to 60 minutes in the kitchen cooking does not sound like fun. On top of that, you are starving! One thing is on your mind, we need dinner and we need it right now. Next stop, the drive through!
Stop! Do you know how fast the cost of eating out can add up? Before we started paying close attention to our spending, I would have guessed that we spent about $100 on eating out each month. Wrong! We were spending close to $300 each month! I think that is conservative when compared to our nations average family. Insane! I was completely shocked! We would eat out maybe once a week and there was no way I thought we were spending that much. The lesson? Eating out can eat away at your bank account, fast!
Pick one day a week that you are going to plan your next week to two weeks of meals. Having a set day to get your meal planning done will help you start the habit. Once you get in the habit you will automatically start thinking about what’s going on the list for next week. Write those ideas down to make your next meal planning even easier!
You need a list! You need something all in one place where you can see what meals you have planned for the week, a grocery list for items you don’t already have at home, and also a running total of what the grocery shopping trip is going to cost you. To make sure you stay on budget! Maybe something like a really handy “Weekly Budget Menu Planner”?
What a coincidence! I have one for you all ready to be printed and filled out! Super easy to use and it will help you keep your weekly grocery spending under budget! Just sign up for my weekly newsletter (for even more tips and tricks to live frugal fabulous) and you can print yours off for FREE!
Stock photography – (Photo credit JCMPhotoShop)