When you are trying to stretch those pennies as far as possible, be it to free up some money to tackle your debt, or to save away, your food budget is one of the easiest things to attack first.
I balk at the suggestion from some people I know who insist there is nothing they can do to reduce their food shopping bill, there is plenty.
But today I’m going to discuss meal planning, as it really helps to cut down your food budget as well as eliminating waste – something I cannot stand!
This was one of the first things I did when I first started to take proper control over my spending, and I couldn’t believe just how much I could skim off.
However, it isn’t just the money side of things why I advocate the necessity of meal planning and here is why.
The undeniable benefits of meal planing
It saves money
OK, I said it isn’t the only reason but it is still number one on my list – well I wouldn’t be much of a money blogger if it wasn’t would I?
Knowing which menus you are going to prepare throughout the week allows you to know exactly what you need from the supermarket in one trip.
It keeps you focused on the ingredients you need and stops you deviating from your shopping list and buying things you didn’t need.
It saves time
I used to spend so much time deciding what we were having for dinner that it got too late to make it and I ended up with a take-away.
Meal planning ahead of time means you avoid the last minute sprints to the shop when you’re missing an item, or five.
Get all the ingredients laid out in front of you and just see how much quicker and efficient you are.
You avoid waste
Nothing annoys me more than finding things gone off at the bottom of the fridge.
My mum didn’t waste a thing, mainly because she simply couldn’t afford to.
Plus, when as a country we bin seven million tons of food a year, we all should be doing our part.
When you have a meal plan in place, any leftover food can be used for lunches the next day – or frozen for a CBA day.
Buying on impulse usually means it finds its way into a bin unused a few days later.
Organise ahead of time and you will only buy and prepare what you are able to eat.
You avoid stress
Cooking should be fun, not a giant, rushed stress just to get everyone a plate of food and stop them moaning about being hungry.
Creating a weekly menu takes away the pressure of preparing something daily off the cuff, plus it keeps everyone happy and satisfied.
When you’re knackered after a long day, you’ll appreciate planning ahead.
It makes you more creative
Giving yourself time to think about what you are going to make for the week gets the creative juices flowing.
You think of delicious meals you can cook in detail, and have more time to create a more complete meal with side dishes and deserts etc.
It creates nutritional awareness
Meal planning and knowing in advance what you are going to serve helps you to concentrate on the nutritional value of your meals.
Selecting recipes at the start of the week with appropriate side dishes means you avoid throwing together quick, unhealthy meals.
It brings variety to your life
This is where I can be pretty bad if it wasn’t for PK telling me no.
I could quite literally eat chilli everyday, what’s more, if I haven’t planned my meals, that’s exactly what I will do!
Most people don’t want to eat the same thing everyday, and meal planning stops it happening.
Search for meal ideas online (Thinking Thrifty, coughs, Thinking Thrifty), ask family or friends for recipes, or create something completely new!
We all love a bit of variety and planning ahead will give you the inspiration you need to mix it up a bit!
Meal planning, well, helps you to plan ahead, and means you can think in advance about what your family likes to eat.
Most importantly, it helps you think about what they don’t like so you organise your kitchen accordingly and limit the amount of waste.
The sooner you start meal planning, the sooner you start running your kitchen as a head chef would.
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