Living under a tight budget can be rough, which is why it pays to stretch every penny as far as possible. One way to make your food budget go further is to plan your meals weekly instead of leaving them as a last-minute decision. This technique lets you buy ingredients when they’re cheaper, and in bulk, so you can save money on both fronts. Check out these five reasons for why meal planning should be part of your frugal living strategy.
Save Money in the Long Run
Sure, it’s never fun getting a $200 grocery bill for the week, but having a meal plan means you need and will use everything you buy. You can also save money by planning meals that use many of same ingredients such as having spaghetti one night and lasagna another. There’s a lot of overlap there that can help you buy more for less when planning for weekly meals.
You’ll End Up Saving Time
There’s nothing worse than getting off work only to realize you still have to head home and cook dinner for the family. Plenty of families opt for fast food because they think it’s faster than cooking, but you can save time by planning the meals you want to cook in advance. That way you already know what you’re doing when you get off work. You can even prepare some of the ingredients in advance, like cooking the pasta you’ll need the night before to save time. Taking leftovers for lunch means you’ll save money the next day at work, too.
Decrease the Stress in Your Day
If you’re the main meal coordinator for your family, you may not realize how much stress goes into coming up with impromptu meals for your family. This stress is often one of the main factors that lead to stay-at-home moms and dads choosing fast food and convenience options over a home-cooked meal. By setting aside an hour on a given day to plan the week’s meals ahead of time you can put less pressure in meal planning for your family, which in turn leads to less stress. By opting for grocery shopping instead of going out to eat frees up extra money to put towards other areas of importance, such as creating an emergency fund or saving for retirement, in combination of reducing monthly expenses by always being on the lookout for cheaper insurance, cable, or your cell phone plan, to help save your family every dollar you can.
Eat Healthier Foods
Not only is fast food costlier than cooking a home-cooked meal for your family, but it’s also often worse for their health, too. If you’re concerned about your family’s health and want to make sure they’re getting 100% of the nutrition they need, then meal planning is the best option for you. Even a last-minute grocery shopping trip can lead to unnecessary purchases, so avoid this by planning your meals ahead of time and only buying what you need.
Try New Things with Your Family
When you first start out meal planning, you should stick to favorites you know everyone in your family will enjoy. However, as you get into the routine, feel free to experiment with new recipes that will bring more variety to the meals you are cooking. Let your family know you’ll be trying something new so they can look forward to it together. You’ll occasionally find meals you like enough to add to the rotation, so no one gets tired of eating the same thing three times a week.