One of the easiest ways to save money is to make your meals at home. But, before you go to the grocery store, or even make your list, you should decide what dishes you’d like to prepare throughout the week. As someone who typically cooks six days out of seven, while sticking to a budget, I know how beneficial it is to plan your meals ahead of time. Here are my three steps to creating a cost-effective, weekly meal plan.
- Shop your own fridge first. What do you already have on hand? Are there any ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry that can be built upon for meals this week?
- Check your grocery store’s sales ad. I’ve already mentioned how important it is to shop the sales ad when trying to save money on groceries. With the same goal in mind, what items are discounted this week that will help you build a menu? Look for big ticket items—like, meat and seafood—that are going to be used as main courses.
- Share ingredients, when possible. Are there any meals you make that require some of the same ingredients? Make those meals within the same week so you can share ingredients between them. For example, buy a big package of tortillas to make tacos AND quesadillas. I mean, who doesn’t love Mexican food twice in one week?!
Let me show you how I used these steps to make my meal plan this week.
First, I checked to see what ingredients I had that could be used to make a meal. I had a box of spaghetti, some pork chops and green beans. I knew that I could make a meal using the pork chops and green beans, I just needed another side item to go with it… Checking my grocery store flyer, I discovered potatoes were on sale. Perfect! One meal down!
Then, I decided to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner one night, using the pasta I already had. I checked the sales ad again and saw that Publix had a 20.8 oz. package of ground turkey on sale. I’d only use about half of that for the meatballs, so I needed to come up with one more meal that called for ground turkey. Stuffed bell peppers sound good to me! 🙂
By following these simple steps, I was able to create three menu items in no time! I hope that they make weekly meal planning easy and more affordable for you, too!