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Tuesday, 24 October 2017 12:18

Can a Menu Plan Help Save You Money?

In a word, yes. I’ve tried this and I’ve been amazed at how much smaller our grocery bill has been each week. Every Friday night, I plan the coming week’s meals. I then use that plan to make a shopping list so I can get the groceries on a Saturday morning. This list means I know I will have everything I need, and I’m not tempted to buy stuff ‘just in case’ or for a meal we end up not having.

I use a whiteboard stuck to the side of the fridge for the meal plan, so I can refer to it each day to make sure I know what to defrost or prepare ahead of time. Occasionally, I’ll make extra portions so I have some to freeze to use the following week. This is ideal if I know I’ll be busier, and have less time to cook.

Next to the meal plan board, I have a magnetised shopping list pad. Anything I run out of goes on there, so nothing gets forgotten. My shopping list each week consists only of the essential things I need for meals. I always check cupboards, the fridge, and the freezer before making the list, and before planning the meals for the week, too.

This method has some great perks:

You’ll spend less

You’ll never be stuck on what to have for dinner

You’ll be less tempted to spend money on takeaways because you’ll be prepared well in advance

You won’t end up losing food to the depths of the freezer where it will get forgotten and wasted

You’ll be able to use leftovers instead of wasting food

Now, you may think planning ahead like this takes time, and yes, it does. But it doesn’t take as much time as you might think. Instead of pondering over a shopping list for ages, it’s far quicker to create once you have your meal plan ready. Add lunches and breakfasts to it as well, so you’re sure of having cereals, bread, and fillings ready for when you need them. Give it a couple of weeks, and you’ll find you get faster at creating the plan and shopping list, too.

Another tip is to take some time at the weekend (or an evening during the week if it works better for you) to prepare meals that can be cooked in bulk and frozen. These can last you for a couple of weeks if you have them on certain days you know you’re short on time and need a quick but healthy dinner. You might also save money by buying bulk ingredients for these meals. Bulking meals out with fresh or frozen veg also works well.

So, if you always find yourself spending more than you should in the supermarket, and yet you always struggle to put meals together, try this for the next month. I think you might be amazed at the advantages a menu plan can offer you.

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