If you are looking for ways to trim your household budget, it might be easiest to start with flexible categories of spending, where you do not spend the exact same amount of money each month. Food is one area of the family budget that is flexible, and also an area that you can improve upon by implementing simple changes. Don’t worry, I am not about to suggest that you eat less, or that you only eat cheap food. I am a foodie, and I know that a “good deal” means more than just the price per pound, it means getting nutritious food for a good price. I have also never tried couponing, but if you are a coupon clipper, I think that the strategy that I am about to suggest will work with your current strategy and may even increase your savings.
A few months ago, if you had seen me at the grocery store, you would have seen me grab a couple of items and then head for the door. Even as a busy mom, I was still going to the store to get ingredients for dinner almost every day. Looking back on it, it seems silly but it just seemed normal at the time. I forget exactly what it was that inspired me to make the change that I did, but I can reasonably guess that it was related to a need to spend less money. The motivation does not really matter, though. What does matter is that the change that I made not only saves money and trips to the grocery store, it brings the peace of mind that I have what I need in the house to prepare nutritious meals for my family all week long.
If you have not guessed it by now, the way that I trimmed my grocery bill is by making a weekly menu plan. Every Monday, I sit down and plan out all of my family’s meals for the week. Often, I keep the grocery store’s flyer close at hand so that I can incorporate sale items into the menu. I also look in the fridge, cabinets, and refrigerator to see what I have on hand so that I can incorporate those items into the menu too. After I have planned the menu, I make a list of the items that I need to get from the store and add any household items like toilet paper, cat food, and dish detergent that I might need. Later that day, I go grocery shopping and then I am done for the week. All that I have to do is glance at the menu chart and prepare whatever is on there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Did I mention that this has taken away all of that “what am I going to have for dinner?” anxiety that I used to feel?
I am not exactly sure why meal planning has the economic effect that it does, but I can make an educated guess that daily trips to the store can add up quickly. Advance planning also cuts down on impulsive purchases. My family did not dine out frequently before we started meal planning, but I can certainly see how families that do could save quite a bit of money by planning more quick and easy home-cooked meals. Enough about me and my menu planning, I’d like to hear about you. Are you a menu planning success story?