Tip #2: Cut Your Budget Through Menu Planning
Can I just make this one my tip #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7 and #8?
It really doesn’t matter how many things you can get for free or cheap at the grocery store and drug stores. If you don’t have a PLAN for how you will use them to feed your family, then you can STILL be overspending on groceries each month!
Planning what you will eat for the week BEFORE you get to the store will likely save you a tremendous amount of money (even without couponing!) If I could give y’all (yes, I’m in Texas) JUST ONE piece of advice on how to reduce you grocery budget it would be to MENU PLAN!!
What does that mean?
It’s actually pretty easy. Intimidating at first. But easy once you try it.
The way you menu plan will evolve a lot as you get better at couponing and stockpiling (we’ll talk about all of that in future posts!), but you have to start somewhere! Eventually (with the next post actually) we will move away from the idea of menu planning based off of what you want to eat that week, and start menu planning off of what’s on sale! Then, by the end of the series we are going to come around FULL CIRCLE and menu plan again based off of whatever you want to eat that week.
But the difference between the end of the series and what’s outlined in this post is that you will already have EVERYTHING that you need for your menu each week in your house! You won’t need to go to the store for a single thing. Sound like a plan? Sound a little overwhelming? Don’t let it be – we will go through it all step-by-step!
Pick a time each week (preferably a time when the kids are tucked in bed and the house is quiet) and write down what you want to feed your family that week.
That means that you take out your recipe books, or look at recipes online ALL ON THE SAME NIGHT (or whenever is best for you) and write down the ones that you want to fix.
You will need 7 dinners, 7 lunches, 7 breakfasts and however many snacks your family needs.
Write them all down and then write down next to them all of the ingredients that you need to make them.
Cross off the ingredients that you already have in your pantry or freezer, and then write down on a separate sheet of paper the ones that you need to buy at the grocery store.
Then, when you go to the store… here’s the tricky part… ONLY BUY THE THINGS ON YOUR LIST!!
I know. It’s hard. The marketers think they know us. They think that if they put items in certain places in the store or at the end of an aisle then we will buy it even if we didn’t come to the store for it. In fact, they would bet money on it that we will (and do with their advertising dollars). But we are smarter than that, right?
We can go to the store and JUST get what’s on our list. Then we can take our extra cash that we didn’t spend and laugh at all of the marketing gimmicks and ploys on our way out the door.
Even WITHOUT couponing, stockpiling, or shopping the sales cycles, just making this one change can save hundreds, if not thousands, each year!
But you’re reading this series to learn how to save money through couponing, so we’ll go on to to the next step which is learning how to menu plan off of the store sales flyers! :)
Do you menu plan? How has it helped you?
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