How we went six years without meal planning, I’ll never know. We used to go to the grocery store, wander the aisles and haphazardly pull food off the shelves and into our carts. Undoubtedly, midway through the week, we’d realize we didn’t have any actual meals in our cabinets and would trudge to the store yet again. We wasted so much money this way and it wasn’t until Everly was in the picture that we finally got our act together. The original motivation wasn’t even saving money it was the sheer fact that taking an infant anywhere is too much work and I wasn’t about to make a grocery store run multiple times a week.
We used to spend about $650 a month on food (not including restaurants/date nights) and now spend around $350 for the month.
1. Aldis Aldis Aldis: That place is magical. I have no idea how in the world I never knew how crazy affordable they are and how high quality their food is. Aldis has by far been one of our biggest factors for success. I do have to stop at Giant to grab the few items I can’t find at Aldis but our Giant is a mile away from our house. I typically put Everly in the stroller and walk to the store to finish off my grocery list. Exercise and fresh air make it an enjoyable trip for us both.
2. Meal plan for two weeks at a time: There are a few reasons this saves us money. Fewer trips to the store mean fewer opportunities to make an impulse buy or overbuy. Cutting down on car rides saves gas money and this isn’t money related but it saves me from having to lug Everly in and out of the store and car every week. I’m also more likely to buy value packs of food because I know what meat I need for the next week’s meal plan and save money that way.
3. Check for sales and make a list: Before making my list I check the Aldis flyer for sales, especially for meat. I try to plan my meals around the sales as much as possible. My list is king and if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the cart. This also encourages me to check the fridge and pantry before I leave ensuring I don’t waste money buying doubles.
4. Plan for leftovers: We usually make a meal every other day. I use the crockpot often and since it’s just the three of us, we almost always have enough for a second dinner and lunch for Everly and me.
5. Meatless Monday: It doesn’t always happen on a Monday, but we try to include one meatless meal one day a week. It’s good for our wallets and for the planet. This article from HuffPost explains the benefits of everyone reducing their meat intake to help end world hunger.
“Today half the world’s agricultural land is used for livestock farming, he said, which is far less efficient for feeding people – and worse for the environment – than producing grain, fruit and vegetables for direct human consumption.”
“Switching from eating meat four times a week, as recommended by the UK-based Food Climate Research Network in 2008, to just once would reduce commodity prices, as less grain would go to feed animals, making food cheaper for the urban poor, he said.”
Not only are we saving money, but we now eat dinner around the table together almost every night. We know how important family meals are, but without a plan, we often resorted to pizza rolls in front of the TV before we had Everly. Now, we look forward to meals each night and I almost always get a text midway through the day from Nate asking what’s for dinner followed by an aww yeah!!!
We’ve loved the savings and the quality time we’ve gained around the table as a result of meal planning. Do you meal plan and have any tips to share? We’d love to hear them!