Meal planning, whether you’re single, cooking for two, or your whole family, is extremely important if you want to stay organized and save money from week to week. I do want to start out by mentioning that in no way am I an expert on grocery shopping nor do I claim to have the best practices. However, I am excited to share what works for my husband and I in hopes that you can walk away with some helpful tips that work for your budget and family.
1. Set a budget and stick to it each week.
This should be the first thing that anyone does before heading to the store. Take a glimpse into your finances and see what kind of budget you should set for grocery shopping each week. You should also take into consideration when you’re hosting a dinner or it’s a special occasion because it’s always going to put you over. The other big item that can sneak you over your budget is alcohol so be conscious of those bottles of wine or 6 packs.
2. Pick budget friendly grocery stores.
There are a million and one different grocery stores out there and each one provides something different and will affect your weekly budget differently. My husband and I began shopping at Whole Foods when we first moved in with each other and set a budget of $150 a week. Yeah, right. Although Whole Foods has healthy and organic food items, I find a lot of their products to be overpriced. So, keeping that in mind, we only shop at WF when we need a specific ingredient that we can’t find elsewhere.
Shopping at Trader Joe’s has saved us so much time and money ever since we switched. We have been able to lower our grocery budget to only $100-$120 average a week and it’s been working (that’s an extra $30-$50 a week we save)! Yeah, they might not carry everything but we love working with less and anything we absolutely NEED can be easily found at Target or another grocery store chain.
What do we buy in bulk at COSTCO?
+ olive oil
+ parmesan cheese blocks
+ paper towels
+ toilet paper
+ makeup remover wipes
+ alcohol (sometimes)
This is the unfortunate side to America’s development of processed and hormone riddled foods over the last decade. This means that consumers today have to be willing to spend more for organic, non-GMO, grass fed meat, and cage free eggs. Do your homework and research grocery stores in your area that provide healthy options for you and your family. This bit of work will save you in the long run. Also consider Farmer’s Markets in your neighborhood! I know we don’t always carry cash anymore, but I love resting easy knowing where my food comes from and I feel good when supporting our local farm community!
Meal planning does take time out of your day and can sometimes be tedious. However, the biggest difference we saw in what we saved at the grocery store comes from pre-planning a menu each week. Pinterest is wonderful for getting inspired, Weight Watchers recipes are easy and healthy, and perusing through Bon Appetit and other food magazines are also great inspirations for meals throughout the week. Look up crockpot meals to help with saving time or choose meals with little prep and cook time. You can also check out some of the recipes I’ve shared on the blog here :)
Always make a grocery list based on the needed ingredients from your menu. Try to pick meals that share ingredients so you don’t run into having herbs spoil or not using up all that chicken stock you bought. Each item you have to throw away is dollars and cents going out the window so be aware of what you buy and how much of it you intend to use.
**Never heard of Naked Wines? It’s the best wine service I’ve seen and I’ve been an Angel member for almost a year. For $40/mo you support and invest in CA-based winemakers meanwhile earning a credit towards any shipment of wine. We’ve saved so much money on wine because of Naked Wines and it’s fun getting to taste different varietals or ordering our favorites. The best part is that you receive your wine within 3 days of ordering! Learn more and check out their FAQ page here.
6. Have fun with dining out!
I always look forward to those times when either of us can ditch the home kitchen and go out for a nice evening where someone else cooks for you. It’s kind of the best feeling. One way you can actually save money when dining out is happy hour specials. Look up local restaurants or bars in your neighborhood and see what deals they have for happy hour. Typically you can enjoy discounted drinks and the small plates are delicious, perfect for sharing, and best of all: affordable.
I hope you find these tips to be helpful as you plan your meals this week! Be sure to follow this linkup hosted by fellow Peonies: Lori at the Boutelle Family Blog and Ashley over at Grace Mountain Diaries.