Every journey looks different. However, there is a general trend in many couponers’ adventures. Come along as we take a closer look at Angie Erickson’s story.
As I shared last week, it is important to have a purpose when you shop. The four main tips to keep in mind are
1. Don’t go to the store without a list.
2. Stick to the list you’ve prepared.
3. Start simple.
4. Consider all factors.
This week I will share how to use meal plans to stay within your grocery budget.
We’ve all been there. It is 4:00 p.m. and you search your cupboards and refrigerator only to find that you do not see anything you can make for supper. You pile the kids in the car and head to the store for a “few” ingredients to make the meal you have in mind. As you walk out of the store with one bag of groceries (which isn’t even full), you feel an overwhelming guilt for spending $22.73 on this one meal!
Ask me how I know this story so well! After feeling this guilt multiple times, I’ve learned that if I put a little time into planning ahead, I stick much closer to my list and in turn, my grocery budget, while shopping. The following is a simple meal planning system I use that has helped me cut down on those last-minute trips to the store.
- Create a calendar for the month on the top half of a sheet of paper and a list of all of the meals and sides your family regularly eats on the bottom half of that paper. The list of meals will cut down the time it takes to compose your meal plan because you will not have to remember the meals you can choose from each week.
- Post it on your refrigerator.
- Fill in the meals for the week. Some people like to match up their meals with what is on sale. I sometimes look through the ads before I make my list, but I do not sit and plan just according to sales.
- Check to see if you have all of the items you will need for your meals. This is a very important step.
- Add any needed items to your shopping list for the week.
I do not always stick exactly to my meal plan, but when 4:00 p.m. rolls around at least I can check my calendar instead of asking my children for ideas for supper. In other words, my meal plan is not constricting; I do change my meals around if it makes sense.
There are also many great meal planning websites out there. Some are free and others are offered for a fee. You can search the Pocket Your Dollars website (just type in “Meal Planning” in the “Search This Site” box on the upper right-hand corner of the website) to see different articles and suggestions for meal planning, as well.
In my opinion, to successfully menu plan you have to figure out what type of plan makes sense and is easiest for you to use. Like me, you probably don’t have hours available in your schedule to spend on meal planning each week. I have given you an option of a simple system, but feel free to search the Internet to find what will work the best for you. Happy Meal Planning!
Join A Money-Saving Journey next time as Angie talks about how to cope in the midst of “Surprise Expenses!”
Angie is a Pocket Your Dollars team member who teaches Pocket Your Dollars grocery-saving classes to mom’s groups, Community Ed programs and other civic organizations in Carrie’s stead. Angie also compiles the bi-weekly Co+Op Deals shopping lists and helps update the shopping lists with additions and changes noted by readers. When she’s not doing those things, she is a stay-at-home mom to two little ones. If you are interested in having Carrie or Angie speak to your group, please contact us.
Your turn: Do you plan meals for your family? If so, what system has worked well for you?