With a family of 4 mouths to feed it’s safe to say that a good chunk of our weekly budget gets allocated to food shopping. So when I find the last remains of teacakes, yoghurts and veg that are no longer consumable I really begrudge having to throw them away. I have wondered why I end up throwing food away? I have tried to solve this problem by not doing a weekly shop anymore because I came to realise that by the end of the week there was a lot of waste, especially when it comes to meat. It never seemed to stay fresh even though I was using it within the use by dates. So I changed the weekly shop to a daily shop, this way by only buying food needed for a day or two I never have to throw meat away and the waste has cut down drastically, but why do I still have waste?
Why use a Meal Planner?
I think that my problem is that I don’t have a meal plan for the week. I buy what I need for the day but I will admit that I often buy on impulse too. The yummy treats that are on offer are just too tempting. And these become even harder to say no to when I have my boys with me. I can be a real softie.
Another problem that I run into is forgetting what I have left in my kitchen cupboards. So because I don’t want to have to run out to the shops again later, I tend to buy all of the ingredients needed for the meal while I’m there, only to find out when I get home that I already have a lot of the ingredients in my cupboards. I will also have to admit that this sometimes happens because most days I don’t decide what I am going to cook until I am at the supermarket. Oops!
I don’t think that I’m doing the wrong thing by shopping daily, I have just come to realise that I need to have a weekly meal plan to help my food shops become more organised and structured to ensure that I stop throwing money away and start saving it.
There may be a number of reasons why people may choose to use a meal planner to help them with their food shop. Here are just a few:
- It helps you to plan the nutritional meals that your family need.
- It saves you time by already having the meal for each day planned so you don’t need to spend valuable time working out what to do for dinner every day.
- It saves you money by enabling you to plan meals that can spread over two days and also cut down on food going off.
How to make the best use of your meal planner
So you have decided to use a meal planner, great. 🙂
But how exactly does one work? The best way to start is to get yourself a weekly calendar with enough room to write on. You could either make one, print one off or you could buy one online*, whatever works best for you. Then break each day into 3 sections, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now it is time to grab your recipe book or your computer and look for recipes that fit your family’s needs. This means thinking about the nutritional value of each meal and also the time that they take to cook. Look at your diary and decide how long you have to cook on each day and find yummy recipes to work along with you.
Most important of all though is to work out the budget that you have for each week. How much do you want to spend on food that week? Can you pick meals that are easy to spread over a couple of days? Chilli for example is great the next day on crispy jacket potatoes with salad and cheese. The Sunday roast is very versatile too, you can use the leftover chicken or beef, roast potatoes and veg to make a delicious pie, risotto or even a curry.
There are so many different ways to save money with a meal planner if you take the time to sit down and work it out. I don’t think that we need to be too strict though, personally I think that planning for 6 days is a good amount so that one day of the week you can have a treat and order food in or eat out. Whichever takes your fancy.
I really hope that by using a meal planner I can create and stick to my family budget and instead of throwing money away on wasted food I can find comfort in knowing that we are actually saving money.
Do you use a meal planner? What tips do you have to help save money on food?