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10 Cheap Ways to Plan a Family Meal

By , Posted on Sep 17, 2013
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If your grocery spend seems like it has gotten out of control and every time you get home from the grocery store, everyone still says, “There’s nothing to eat!”, you might consider “meal planning”.

With conscientious planning, you will be able to know ahead of time what you are going to make for every meal and will have all of the ingredients you need right there at home in order to prepare each meal. What’s more important is that your grocery spending will become more manageable because you have planned your meals.

With meal planning you will create a shopping list that corresponds with the meals you plan to prepare. While you are at it, you will be able to actually make healthier meals for your family all the while significantly cutting your grocery bill. That’s not to say you can’t occasionally have that frozen pizza or hamburger helper, but by planning your meals you be able to make healthy eating easier.

Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can plan your meals and make them inexpensive:

  1. The Master Menu — Get input from everyone in the family as to what there favorite meals are. Make a list of 10-20 meals and sort them in order of meals that are quick and don’t require many ingredients to the more complicated. Also group your meals by category… crock-pot dishes, chicken, beef, soups, side dishes… this will make it easier to create your shopping list.

    Get together the recipes for each dish (if you need it) and keep them in a dedicated binder that you can refer to when creating your shopping list.

  2. Set a Budget — Make a realistic budget for each week or month. You might consider using an envelope for your shopping money to keep you from going over budget. And be sure to keep track of all of your spending, this way you can see what you have spent and if there is a way to make changes in order to save more money.
  3. Use Your Leftovers — According to the EPA over 36 tons of food waste reaches US landfills each year. Don’t just let food go bad in the fridge, if you keep leftovers in zip-lock bags be sure to write the date that you put it in the fridge and the “best by” date on there also. You can find out how long you should keep leftovers by visiting TheMayoClinic.com When making you meal plan, plan to use leftovers as ingredients in another meal. Letting leftovers go bad in the refrigerator is just like throwing money away.
  4. Cook in Batches — There are an abundance of cheap meals you can make for your family that you can prepare in bulk. Doing this will save you serious amount of time not to mention money. Divide into individual meals and pack them away in the freezer.
  5. Coupons, coupons, coupons — You don’t have to be like those people you see on TV that get $500 worth of groceries for $2.00, that would be nice, but it does pay off to clip coupons for the items that you have on your shopping list. This is a sure fire way to save some cash at the store.
  6. Use Cheaper Cuts of Meat — It is not necessary to spend a ton of money on meat, you can buy a cheaper cut and prepare it the correct way, and it will be just as good as the expensive cuts. And remember, a slow cooker can make even the toughest cut of meat, fall-apart tender.
  7. Compare Prices — If you have a smart phone use on of the many apps like Grocery Pal to compare prices. “This amazing app points you toward weekly sales at your local supermarkets and discount stores. Download Grocery Pal today and find savings from stores such as SAFEWAY, CVS/pharmacy, Walmart, Walgreens, RiteAid, Target, ALDI, Kmart, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Albertsons, H-E-B, Harris Teeter, any many many more!” http://www.twicular.com/
  8. Sacrifice — No one likes the sound of that but if you say drink more water as opposed to milk and juice, you will find yourself saving some dough. Consider “watering down” the juice you give your thirsty kids, after awhile they won’t even notice the difference.
  9. Cut Back on Meats and Desserts — Or at least buy the cheaper cuts of meat and make your own desserts as opposed to the prepackaged desserts.
  10. Buy in Bulk — The initial expense might be more but if you buy larger quantities of items like canned goods that will keep, you can see a big savings.

With a little planning and some frugal shopping, you will be able to have all of your meals planned out, know exactly what you are buying when you go to the grocery store and more importantly, cut your meal budget and save a considerable amount of money you spend on food.

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