Meal-Planning on a Budget

One of the largest expenses for most families is their grocery bill.  There are lots of ways to cut back on your grocery expenses, and one of those methods is meal-planning.

Once a week I gather my grocery list, calendar, and a pen.  Then I take stock of the contents of my pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and kitchen cabinets.  With these items in mind, I create a meal-plan for the week.  I often look at Supercook (a website where you can look up recipes based on what you already have in your kitchen), Simply in Season, or flip through my Recipe Envelopes.  As I select meals, I list the missing ingredients on my grocery list.

I usually only grocery shop once a week, and I rarely go back a second time.  This saves me time all week, and meal-planning in advance prevents the last-minute “What do I cook for dinner tonight?” panic.  I try to stick with simple meals throughout the day, and I try to cook enough for each dinner so that I have leftovers for at least one additional meal.

One of the primary ways that we save money on our grocery bill is by eating at home most of the time, making most of our meals from scratch, and avoiding prepared, processed, and grocer’s-freezer-foods.  If there is something we would like to eat or drink, then we learn how to make it at home.

Come back on Wednesday to see some examples of my typical weekly meal-plan!

How do you streamline your meal-planning and grocery shopping?

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7 Responses to “Meal-Planning on a Budget”

  1. Leanne says:

    We meal-plan as well and it sounds like we do it in very similar ways. We look at the calendar, coupons, and pantry at the end of the month for the month coming up. Because of our work schedules and having a 9 month old, we’ve found that planning for the month and shopping for the week works best for us. We’re flexible in our planning, but planning for the month takes the pressure off each week. Shopping once a week allows us to save money and not impulse buy. Because we’ve planned for the month I can look ahead and buy things when they are on sale, even if I’m a week early. It helps our budget, our time, and our health. Glad to know there are others out there doing what we’re doing too!

  2. Gina B says:

    These are great, simple tips. I’m afraid my kids eat too much produce – the bulk of their diet – to shop only once a week! How I wish :)

    • Jessica says:

      I sometimes think I should just call my blog “The Lazy Mom’s Guide to…” because although I’m a big fan of efficiency and order, sometimes I think I’m just lazy. :) I’d rather get all packed up and ready to go just once (meal-planned, coupons ready, list ready, kids with Brad), so I try to do all of my errands in one shot. I put gas in the car, go to the bank, pick up any freebies at other stores, go to the post office, and finally the grocery store. Then I don’t have to go out again for another week! You probably have more energy than I do. :)

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