Eating out is a budget killer, especially if you do it all the time. The best alternative of course is to eat at home. However, while this will certainly save you money, cooking every meal can be daunting for some people—unless you make a meal plan.
Here are some tips for creating a successful plan to boost your financial (and personal) health.
Cook Things You Actually Enjoy
This may seem obvious, but in fact many people assume that meal planning means preparing things that are easy but not necessarily tasty. So make note of the things your family likes to eat. You’ll also want to focus on things you can buy in bulk. For example, large bags of beans can be purchased for fairly cheap, and used as a healthy source of protein in a variety of dishes.
Speaking of protein, consider eating alternatives to meat throughout the week. Beef, chicken and pork are often the most expensive parts of any meal.
Make a Plan
Make a list of each meal you need to account for. Most of us eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but you might also want to consider snacks. Assign a meal to each of those areas based on your personal preferences or what is already in your pantry. The list will help you stay organized and save money when you hit the grocery store.
Shop With Purpose
Having a stocked pantry is key to meal planning. See what’s already in your kitchen and make a list of missing essentials that can be used in multiple recipes (oils, seasonings, etc.).
Now cross-reference your pantry and meal lists. Identify any ingredients that are missing and make sure to pick them up at the store. With your prepared lists, you’ll avoid the supermarket trap of buying things on the fly that you don’t really need.
Don’t Forget to Plan for On-The-Go Snacks
One of the most common reasons people ditch their carefully prepared meal plan is because of hunger on-the-go. Don’t fall into the fast-food trap. You can either prepare snacks for this purpose, or buy filling items such as inexpensive fruits and nuts to tide you over until you get home.