Nothing works better for your budget than creating a meal plan. It is a vital step to stay within your budget, plus it reduces food waste, which is something I want to focus on more. I found it very helpful to look at other people’s routines, so I wanted to share how I create a meal plan.
Before we start
- It’s important to know I only plan out our dinners. We have the same type of breakfasts and lunches, so I don’t have to think about them. The only items I need to buy weekly are the fresh items like milk and yoghurt.
- I buy ‘bulk items’ at the beginning of each month. E.g. we use a lot of oatmeal, so I buy 8 bags of oatmeal a month. I use it on its own as breakfast or use it to create granola.
- I also have a rule that I only buy certain things in bulk at the beginning of the month. When we run out of juice before the end of that month, we just don’t have juice for the rest it. This is partly to stay in budget, and partly to make sure we don’t have too much juice. (if you are interested in how I set our budget, feel free to read ‘How I cut down my grocery costs‘ or ‘How to determine your grocery budget‘ )
- I plan on a Sunday and do my groceries on a Monday. This is an important step for me, because all the discounts and new deals become available on Sunday. So I can easily check what’s on sale that week. Just find your best day of the week. When offers become available on a different day, you could plan your meals on a different day as well.
- My first step is just scanning through all the offers and determining what I need. Now, it’s important to only look for things you need. We eat sugar free and whole food based, so I usually just scan through the fruits and veggies and try to look for a good deal on meat/fish. I also have a quick glance at the non-food items, but only to look for the products we use, like toiletpaper for example. Other than that, it’s only fresh produce. (and chocolate.. you always need chocolate)
- Based on the vegetables on sale, I look for a meal to match. For example, when the broccoli is on offer we could have a broccoli stir-fry that week. Or when the hamburgers are on offer, we have hamburgers for dinner.
- I meal plan while looking at my pantry. I want to buy as little as possible, and make use of what I have. Because I buy about 5 cans of canned tomatoes at the beginning of the month, I try to incorporate them in my meals. They usually end up in a pasta dish or in the slowcooker with chicken.
- When I have completed my grocery list and meal plan, I double check. Just to make sure I don’t have unnecessary things on the list or plan to buy items that are still in my fridge or pantry, but also to make sure I don’t forget anything because I only go to the store once. Which brings me to the next step..
- I only go to the store on a Monday! This is really important to stay within budget. The only things I am allowed to buy are things that are vital to my recipe or for my son. So when I have everything at home to make a quiche but forgot to get eggs, I do buy them. But nothing more than that and only when I have to. If it is possible to postpone the quiche and eat something else, without having to throw away anything, that is my option of choice. We’ll just have the quiche in the next week.
I hope these tips will help you plan your meal as well. How do you plan your meals? Let me know in the comments!