It is a well-known fact that meal planning can save you serious amounts of cash on your weekly shop. Not only that, but it helps prevent food waste too. To truly see the money saving benefits of meal planning, you need to take it one step further and 'Shop from Home' BEFORE heading out to the shops.
If you have never meal planned before, it can be difficult to know exactly where or how to start. Grab yourself your FREE Meal Planner (see below), a pen and follow this 10 step guide on How to Meal Plan.
1. Use a Meal Planner (grab your Free Printable) or create your own
Enter your details into the form below and you will get instant access to your Free Meal Planner which you can print out and start using immediately.
If you would prefer to create your own meal planner, simply list the days of the week on the left and have up to four columns with the headings Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks. When you first start meal planning, there is no need to try and plan for every meal. Start slowly and begin with dinner. As you become more comfortable you can begin to add in other meals too.
If you don't want to print our your meal plan, you can purchase my paperback 52 Week Meal Planner which is available on Amazon. This planner contains 52 Meal Planners, 52 Shopping Lists, 20 Recipe Logs for recording your favourite recipes, a favourite foods list and money saving hints and tips.
2. Write a list of favourite meals to include on your meal plan
Begin by writing a list of your favourite meals which you know you and your family enjoy eating. You will be surprised how many slots you will be able to fill just from these meals.
3. Allocate Meals to Days
Using your list of favourite meals, start to allocate a meal to each day of the week. If you have less time during the week than at the weekends make sure you put easy to cook or slow cooker meals on your busier days and leave the more time consuming meals for when you have more time to spend cooking.
4. Write a shopping list
Once you have filled in your meal planner, you will be able to write your shopping list. You can go through each meal and list the ingredients that are required for each meal but don't rush off to the shops yet!
5. Shop from Home
The following three steps are what will enable you to maximise your savings. Check each of your food cupboards to see if any of the ingredients you have identified on your list are already in your cupboards. Cross these off your list, you really don't want to be wasting money purchasing something that you already have.
6. Check your fridge and freezer
Do the same with your fridge and freezer. Do you have anything in your fridge or freezer that you were going to buy for your meal plan this week?
What about substitutes. Do you have anything in your fridge or freezer that you could substitute for anything that is on your shopping list. For example, perhaps you have a packet of peas in the freezer but you were planning to buy carrots. Could you use the peas instead which would save you some more money this week.
7. What’s lurking at the back of your cupboards, fridge or freezer?
It is important to check if you have anything in your cupboards, fridge or freezer that needs using up before you end up having to throw it out. Try to incorporate it in to one of your planned meals, or create a meal for your meal plan around this item. Remember, you have already spent the money on this item, so using it up, in place of purchasing something else, will double your savings, especially if you would have ended up throwing it away.
8. Shop from your list
Stick to your list. Buy only those items you have on your shopping list. Do not be tempted by the offers that supermarkets like to attract you with unless you know you will make use of it.
9. Use by and Sell by dates
Make sure you take note of Use By and Sell By dates and understand the difference. If you were planning a meal later in the week but one of the items has a Use By date earlier, move the meal to earlier in the week.
If you have something with a sell by date on then this is just the date that it has to be sold by. You can use your judgment as to whether the ingredient is still edible.
10. Repeat each time before you shop
If you follow this process each time before you actually venture out to the shops, you will ensure that you are only spending money on those ingredients that you will definitely need and use and will soon see your savings build up.
If you'd like to read more about meal planning, why not try What is Meal Planning?