For many households, food can be one of the highest monthly expenses (second to rent or mortgage). Fortunately, there are several tricks to slashing your grocery bill while still maintaining a healthy diet. Meal planning is one technique, and you may find it works well for your family. If you have never tried to reduce your food bill before, this may be a good place to start. You can begin by just planning meals for one week, and try increasing this to two weeks to help limit the number of trips you make to the grocery store.
First, draw up a chart for each day of the week Sunday-Saturday. Next, list a week's worth of breakfasts for your family. Here's an example of one week worth of breakfasts for our household:
Sunday: Banana Nut Waffles
Monday: Scrambled Eggs and Whole Wheat Toast
Tuesday: English Muffins with Peanut Butter
Wednesday: French Toast and Sausage
Thursday: Homemade Granola Cereal
Friday: Breakfast Burritos - scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, and sausage wrapped in a whole grain tortilla
Saturday: Pancakes and Low Sodium Bacon
(We usually drink orange juice, water, or hot tea)
Next, draw up the same chart, but list lunch items for one week. Here's an example from our household:
Sunday: Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup
Monday: Tuna Melt on Whole Wheat Bread, Apple, and Fat Free Yogurt
Tuesday: Mini Pizza on Whole Grain Tortilla
Wednesday: Bean Burrito with fat free refried beans, cheddar cheese, and salsa
Thursday: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Friday: Loaded Baked Potato with leftover chili, cheddar cheese, and low fat sour cream
Saturday: Leftover Homemade Buffalo Chicken Pizza
(we usually drink seltzer water, juice, or hot tea)
Getting hungry yet? Another tip -- Do not do the grocery shopping when you are hungry. The best time to go is after you have had a good meal, or at least a snack to tide you over. Why? When you are hungry, you are much more likely to pick up impulse purchases which can wreck havoc on your food budget!
Now it's time to think about dinner. Here's a one week example from our household:
Sunday: Broiled Salmon, Brown Rice, and Green Beans
Monday: Blackened Cajon Pork Chop, Roasted Potatoes, Honey Glazed Carrots
Tuesday: London Broil, Baked Potato, and Petite Peas
Wednesday: Beef Fajitas, Spanish Rice, and Fat Free Refried Beans
Thursday: Homemade Chili with Corn Bread
Friday: Lemon Pepper Chicken, Brown Rice, Broccoli
Saturday: Homemade Buffalo Chicken Pizza
(we usually drink water, skim milk, or hot tea)
The next step is to the list the ingredients for the week onto a shopping list, and compare your list to the items you already have in your refrigerator, pantry, or freezer. Try to only buy what you need so no food is wasted. Cross off whatever items you already have at home, and the remaining items will become your official shopping list for the week.
Tip -- Some ingredients can be used for more than one dish. For example, our family rarely finishes a London Broil in one dinner, so the leftover meat is used for Beef Fajitas the next evening. Similarly, we usually have some leftover pizza from dinner, so we will have this for lunch the following afternoon. You may want to try cooking a slightly larger dinner and having leftovers for lunch the next day.
Have you tried meal planning? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment and share your stories with us!