Author: Susanne Myers
Meal plans are a great way to help you save money, but you have to do it right. What dishes you choose for your menu can make a big difference in how much money you will spend at the store. Here are 7 tips to help you with your cheap meal planning.
Tip 1 – Start With Your Weekly Grocery Store Sales Flyers
Grab your store sales flyers when you are sitting down to plan your meals. Take a look at what items are marked down that week. You can usually find some fruits, vegetables and certain cuts of meat on sale. Incorporate those into your meal plan first.
Tip 2 - Skip The Meat Three Times A Week
I probably don't have to tell you that meat is one of the most expensive items you will buy at the store. Consider skipping the meat a few times a night. You can prepare some pasta and veggies, beans or eggs instead. If you can't skip the meat altogether, consider making a soup, stew or casserole that uses only a little meat for flavoring.
Tip 3 – Breakfast For Dinner
My daughter's favorite dinner each week is on the night we have breakfast. I whip up some eggs, bacon or sausage, grits and toast. Sometimes we'll have pancakes or waffles with bacon. I even serve orange juice with breakfast for dinner and it's always a big hit. It's also one of the fastest dinners to put together.
Tip 4 – Frugal Staples To Include In Your Meals
There are certain staples you should include in as many of your meals as possible to keep cost down. Dry beans and lentils, rice, and potatoes are on that list. For protein (in addition to the beans), include eggs and canned tuna or salmon. I also like to keep some canned vegetables (including corn and green beans) around to make a quick side dish, or to use in soups and stews.
Tip 5 – Plan Your Portions
You want to avoid having to throw food out, because it's just like throwing money in the trash. Plan your portions according to what your family will eat. Yes, it is great to have leftovers for lunch the next day, but make sure they are actually eaten and don't just sit in your fridge until they go bad. If your family doesn't enjoy eating leftovers, cook just enough to fill everyone up.
Tip 6 – Inexpensive Family Favorites
Don't forget about including some frugal family favorites in your meal plans. For my family those include spaghetti with tomato sauce, vegetable beef soup and tacos. Ask your kids and spouse for input into the meal plan and I'm sure they will come up with some great family favorites for you to include.
Tip 7 – Where You Shop Matters
Where you buy your groceries can make a huge difference in how much money you spend for them. Visit a few different stores in your area and do some price comparisons on a few of them items you buy most frequently. In my area, Super Walmart and Aldi are the least expensive stores when it comes to groceries. You can keep a little notebook to record and compare prices. It will also help you decide if a store sale really is a good deal.
About the Author:
And now I would like to invite you to read a short interview I did with The Menu Planning Mom on family meal planning at http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/family-meal-planning-an-interview-with-christine-steendahl.htm - and while you're there, be sure to sign up for the Hillbilly Housewife Newsletter, a weekly publication full of homemaking advice and frugal recipes.