Almost immediately after I hit publish on a grocery and meal plan tip post, I start thinking of even more things I can cover in the next one!
So today I have ten MORE tips to share with you that make grocery shopping and meal planning on a budget that much easier!
More Grocery Tips To Save You Time And Money
- Have a family meeting. You all need to band together for just a few minutes and answer a question: What are you favorite make at home meals? What the heck does everyone want to eat?! Write down everyone’s favorite meals and write down your favorites also. If your family utilizes Pinterest, make a group Pinterest board of all the meals everyone wants to try, or just a place to keep the meals you’ve tried that were hits! Refer to this list when putting together your meal plan.
- Plan your meals when you’re hungry. Just before lunch is one of the best times for me to make our meal plan! Why? When you’re hungry everything sounds good! Just make a list of all the things that sound good during this time, you can edit it later when you’re full, or when you start to calculate cost of ingredients, and make adjustments then. But if you’re having trouble deciding what you want to cook for the next meal plan, wait until you start to get hungry to get the ideas going!
- …And then go shopping when you’re full. When you’re full, you are less likely to buy things that you don’t need just because they sound yummy. Less impulse buying automatically equals more savings. Just as meal planning when you’re hungry helps you decide what you want to cook, shopping when full will help you stick to only the things on your list.
- Break down cost per ounce or each to find the best deal. Sometimes you can only fit the smaller cheaper items into your budget. But overall it’s usually cheaper to buy bigger packages because it costs less by ounce. Take dawn dish soap for instance. The dollar tree sells this item for $1 at 8 ounces. Sams club however, sells a JUG of dawn for $12.98 at just under 128 ounces. The dollar trees cost is 12 cents per ounce, while Sams Club’s price is 10 cents per oz. That savings adds up for items you use every single day. I know we can’t buy everything we use in bulk all the time, but it’s worth considering saving up for the purpose of stocking up. These price differences can be found in almost every single item on your grocery list. So if you think it’s always best to buy whatever is cheapest, even if it’s a smaller size, take a better look at what you are buying per ounce or by each to figure out if you’re really saving.
- Find a home for your reusable bags, and actually use it! Really, almost every single thing in your home should have a place. Pick a place that makes sense to you, and actually put your reusable bags back! More states are getting rid of single use plastic bags, leaving us with the option of bringing our own, buying new ones every time we shop, or carrying 15 cans by hand to our vehicle. Even in states that haven’t gotten rid of bags, certain stores like Aldi only have bags available for purchase, and some stores like Sam’s don’t carry bags at all. Some of the ideas that seem best to me are: keeping them by the door so that you can pick them up on your way out. Just keeping them in your trunk, so that even if you make an unexpected trip to the store, you have your bags. Or, keeping them by the fridge, so that as you take care of your groceries you can immediately take care of your bags. By keeping them where you won’t lose them and where you’ll have them ready when you need them, you’ll save a lot of mental space and even money in cases where you have to pay for your bags!
- Tidy your refrigerator the night before. Get all the left overs out of there, put the food that you’re keeping back in an organized manner and give the shelves a wipe. If you do this weekly or bi-weekly it shouldn’t take you much time at all. This saves you so much hassle on grocery day because you don’t want to put the new food on top of yucky shelves or have to go through and find room for everything you bought because you have two weeks of leftovers taking up space. And you definitely aren’t going to be eating those two week old leftovers! It’s lived it’s life. I know, I hate throwing out food too, and try to make sure I’m wasting as little as possible, but it happens to all of us now and then. Dispose of it and move on. One less thing to think about after a long trip to the grocery store with kids the next day!
- Use your Master Grocery List to help you remember everything! It’s happened to all of us, we think we made a great grocery list and we’re so proud at how far under budget our trip was… and then we get home and realized we forgot coffee creamer, and milk, and eggs and conditioner, and oops, forgot toilet paper too! Before we know it, we have a new grocery list and since we didn’t consider these items in the first list we usually go over budget getting these necessities. Ugh! By going through the master grocery list, we’re really able to consider every single item that we might be running low on. Just this last grocery trip I almost forgot dog food. We have two large dogs and the big bag of dog food I buy is $22. If I hadn’t used my master list and remembered this, it would have been an extra $22 that most likely would have put me over budget. Not cool!
- Use theme days to help you come up with ideas. Taco Tuesday is almost always a popular one! We do pizza Thursdays even if no other meals are themed. Using themes helps you choose a type of food and it’s always easier to narrow down options from there and put together your meal plan easily.
- Check the weather when planning meals. This is especially important in the Spring and the Fall. Here in the Midwest during these transition seasons we can have a 20 degree day followed by an 80 degree day. Checking the weather and knowing what to expect helps you plan what meals you’ll eat when. You don’t want to plan burgers on the grill for a day that’s calling for thunderstorms, you usually won’t really be into stews and hearty comfort food on 80 degree days.
- Plan ‘easy meals’ every week. Look, even Martha Stewart has been known to subject her family to canned soup now and then. We’re busy! There’s the work we do day in and out, activities, appointments, and events. Something has to give somewhere. Even people who love to cook, don’t cook three course meals every day of the week. Almost every meal plan I show on Instagram (planning_this_home) features easy dinners at least a few times a week. Frozen pizza and hamburger helper are found on there most. And this time of year I have my husband grill as often as possible because it means I don’t have to cook (I’m usually ready to take over again in the fall when I can make good comfort food again, and freely cook with out over heating in then hot kitchen). Plan ahead for days you know you’ll need something easy or quick and pick an easy dinner for that night. Frozen and processed are options, but, crock pot meals also work really well for these days too, then you get the best of both worlds with fresh ingredients, and the crock pot does all the work for you!
Whew! Yet another list to help you on your meal planning venture! I feel like maybe this time I’ve given all my tips, but I’m sure tomorrow as I do my grocery shopping I will start making another list of things I want to show you and tell you that will make your life easier! Where do you find that you always fail in your grocery shopping? What is YOUR favorite tip for planning meals and shopping for food!? Feel free to let me know!
Until next time friends!