Want to save money on food and groceries? You need to start Budget Meal Planning! Get started on your budget meal planning solution with tips, printables, and more!
Budget Meal Planning
Budget meal planning is one of the main ways our family lives within our budget and saves money. We spend around $300-$350 per month on all groceries. And I actually include all household items (garbage bags, paper towels, etc), baby items (wipes, diapers, etc.), and personal hygiene products (shampoo, make-up, deodorant, etc.) in that same budget too.
I don't coupon. At all. I think it's great, if you can do it! But, for me, keeping track of that many pieces of paper, expiration dates, sales dates,... It's just too much. So here, I will provide you with tips on budget meal planning: how to meal plan, grocery shop, and save money in the process.
Budget Meal Planning Basics
1. Start with basic pencil and paper. You don't need anything fancy for meal planning. Just make a little chart on a piece of paper. I just write out the days of the week for my rows and then "breakfast," "snack," and "dinner" for the columns. If you want a pretty, printed budget meal planner, you can download our Home Management Binder for free, and print out the weekly meal planner! We eat leftovers for lunch, so I don't have a column for lunch. Which brings me to our next step:
2. Figure out how many meals you are planning for. Be honest with yourself. Think about how many meals you will eat at home, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and even desserts. How many meals will you be away from home that week? How many times will you eat out? Mark an "X" in the slots on your chart that you know you'll be away from home. Or if you eat out every Friday, write "Out" in the Friday dinner slot. This is important because it prevents you from doing extra work, buying extra food, and wasting extra money. Buying food you won't actually eat, especially if it's perishable and you'll have to throw it out, is a huge budget kill.
3. Find the actual meals you're going to use. Look in cookbooks. Check out Pinterest. Search the internet. Check here at The Gracious Wife (we have TONS of family friendly meals recipes because I'm always cooking for our family!) Find recipes that look good to you! You don't need three gourmet meals every single day. Cereal on Monday? Sandwiches for lunch? Yup, that's fine too! Write down the meal you'll be eating in each slot of your chart until it's full. But keep your cookbooks and web pages open for the next step!
4. Start your grocery list. You'll need a new sheet of paper! For each meal or recipe, write down every single ingredient you'll need. When I need the same ingredient for multiple recipes, I start making tally marks. It's easier than having to try to count how many times you wrote it on your list or continually cross out or erase.
5. Check your supply stash. Before you write up your final list, check your freezer and your pantry. You might have some of the ingredients already! No need to re-buy those! Cross out the things you already have on your list. Almost done!
6. Make your final list. Write everything you need to buy at the store on your new organized list. Check out my free grocery list organizer to get you started! Write down everything from your old list. And also include household, baby, and hygiene items. Don't forget your basics like milk, bread, coffee, and eggs.
I won't get too in-depth with budget grocery shopping today, but I do want to give just one tip. And that is: STICK TO YOUR LIST! You went through lots of time and effort to go through every single item and make a detailed list. Now stick to it. If it's not on your list, it's an impulse buy and you do not need it!
Good luck! And happy budget meal planning!
Want More Budget Meal Planning ?
You might also like:
- Monthly Meal Plans - Our very own budget meal planning monthly and weekly calendar, updated every month.
- Free Grocery List Printable - Complete step 6 of the Budget Meal Planning Basics with this grocery list organizational printable
- Home Management Binder - Keep your whole home on budget and organized with these free Home Management Binder printables. Plus get additional worksheets to start your budget meal planning on the right track!
- Don't forget to check out our Recipe Index and our Top Family Favorite Recipes for budget meal planning ideas!
Did you like these budget meal planning tips? Find more on my Meal Planning & Budget board on Pinterest!
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