While getting into the habit of meal prepping and planning hasn’t made me rich per se, it has definitely been a way for our family to save money on our food finances. Meal prep and planning has had a few positive effects so far. In addition to meal planning myself happy in terms of my health, and meal prepping my husband into a hottie, I have noticed changes in our food finances. Drastic changes.
Prior to me developing the habit of meal prepping and planning, our food finances were a mess. An embarrassing mess.
My husband and I were both grabbing breakfast on the run, lunch on the fly, and then, it was the mad rush from our jobs to our long commute into the suburbs - followed by the dreaded “what do you want to eat? and “oh, I don’t know, whatever”. Followed by 20 suggestions that each of us shot down.
We would then default to eating out or ordering in with the sound of a hangry kid in the background. I know we are not alone in this battle.
Our food habits and finances look much different today, and here is why:
#1. Eat Out Less
It seems like such a simple concept, but is only successful with planning. This change in our food budget 100% related to the fact that our meals are planned for the week, with most of them prepped to some level.
#2 Buy Bulk ingredients and Turn Them into Multiple Ready to Go Meals
It is no secret that purchasing in bulk is usually cheaper. The problem I had is that the frozen chicken breasts would then sit in my freezer FOREVER, and the bulk spinach would barely be touched.
The key to bulk ingredient shopping is not just go and stack your cart with whatever is on sale and looks like a good future meal. Go with a plan and turn those ingredients into freezer or pre prepped meals.
Once I started doing bulk purchasing with a plan, I was able to fill my freezer with very cost effective dinners. These freezer and fridge dinners were now faster to get dinner on the table than to order in.
For more inspiration on turning bulk ingredients into meals, check out this post on How I Turn $75 of bulk meat into 10 dinners and this post on How to have 10 freezer meal starters on hand to create 100's of different meals.
#3 Buy only what you plan for
Once I started prepping, I found my grocery bills were naturally less because I wasn’t buying half of the store with good intentions of actually eating it all. Now, I go into with a plan and buy only what I need – and only once a week.
The first thing I do is look at what is in the fridge and freezer and try and create a plan around what I already have. This way, I purchase just the odds and ends to turn it into complete meals. Some weeks I can spend $50 on "new ingredients" and utilize what I already have.
Then, I make a list and I try really hard not to sneak impulse items (aka Oreos) into my cart. I do make exceptions for things like $1 pineapples or things that really are a great price and can be frozen.
When you buy only what you plan for, you will notice that you will easily work your way through your food and waste a whole lot less.
I use this template to plan my week and my shopping - you can get it here as a free printable.
If you follow this blog you have seen that meal prepping has had many positive effects for me. This is not as challenging as you might think it is. If you want to give this a try, check out my tips and tricks page to get some tips on how to start.
So there you have it, 3 ways I use meal planning to decrease my family's food finances in HALF.
Looking for more meal prepping and planning inspiration? Come join the Confessions of a Meal Plan Addict Community!