The One Thing You Can Do That Will Cut Your Food Budget In Half

by Connie Mei · 6 comments

meal planning
Aside from rent, food is one of the biggest expenses in our budgets. From celebratory dinners to hosting guests, a big part of our lives center around eating. Add it all up and the money you spend on food can easily be 20% of your income. That can be as much as the money you spend on rent. Plus, it’s a double whammy that inflation seems to be so much higher on food and rent. We will talk about rent another time, but let’s focus on what we eat today. How exactly do you cut back on food expenses? The obvious answer is cooking more at home, but that’s only half of it. Making homemade meals can still be quite expensive if you’re getting all your groceries at Whole Foods. So, what is the one thing you can do that will cut your food budget in half?

Simply, it’s meal planning.

Many people I know laugh at the idea of meal planning. At one point, I did too. I thought it was such a tedious task that would only save me pennies. But let me be happy to tell you that I was completely wrong. I decided to give meal planning a try and while it’s taken some time to get use to the routine, it’s literally cut my food expenses in half. If you want to save money too, take a look at these tips to help you effectively meal plan:

Set Aside Time Each Week to Plan

Meal planning doesn’t take a lot of time but it still takes time. Set aside an hour each week so you can review your schedule and plan out your meals for the week ahead. The two keys to meal planning are 1) overlapping ingredients and 2) variety. It can be challenging to achieve both these things so when you plan everything out, think outside of the box. Then once you have your plan all set, you can move on to the more fun part (food shopping).

Collect New Recipes

Meal planning is much easier and faster when you have ideas ready to go. Everyone has their “go to” meals, which are simple, easy-to-make, and always a crowd pleaser. The only problem is that you can get sick of eating the same thing everyday. So take some time to collect new recipes. Ask friends and family for their favorites. Pinterest is another great way to find delicious and easy meals for everyone in your family.

Plan According to Sales

Have your supermarket’s weekly circular handy when you’re doing your meal plan each week. The easiest way to save the most money is by planning according to the sales. Many foods can easily be stored in the freezer, which allows you to plan weeks ahead. Plus, shopping the weekly sales is a great way to experiment with new ingredients.

Grocery Shop with a Purpose

The biggest reason why people waste money on food is because they shop without a purpose. Many times, I’ve walked into a supermarket without a shopping list only to walk out with bags full of things I don’t really need. Your meal plan will tell you exactly what you need. This eliminates waste and also impulsive purchases. On top of that, you’ll save a lot of time as well.

Do you think meal planning is effective or a waste of time?

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  • Krystal says:

    I have heard a lot about meal planning but I was reluctant to try it because it seemed “tedious”. I think I am going to try it. I already do all of the other money saving things like buying generic and shopping with a list. This post has convinced me to try it!

  • Gary says:

    I think meal planning helps a ton in reducing food costs. While you’re making your list, it’s a good idea to check what you already have on hand so you can use your supplies efficiently. Also, I like to have some easier suppers available, either cooked ahead and frozen or just simple meals like sandwiches, in case you have a night where you’re tempted to stray from your plan and order take-out.

    • Paul says:

      Do once a month cooking. Set aside a day, commonly a Saturday, and cook up a storm. Then you can freeze and take out what you want later in the month.

      Not sure how? Google once a month cooking to find out.

  • Paul says:

    You forgot the best one of all. Cut the amount you eat by half. We ALL eat far too much. And most of it isn’t even able to be classified as food. Yummy munchies yes, but food, non.

    Dinner time. 1 helping, and no, don’t cheat by piling you plate. Do this for 3 months and you will see the results from the reduction in your waistline.

    Don’t buy donuts, and cream buns, and ice cream, and chocolate, and Coke and… well you get the idea.

    Add this process to the advice in the article and you can probably cut your food bill to 1/3 or less than you currently do.

  • Argie says:

    It helps to keep a running list of what you will need to buy. I make a calendar for the month with a blank column on the left to write in the ingredients that I don’t have on hand. This becomes my shopping list. The meals are planned in the daily spaces. I do a month at a time because we only shop once a month, but you could do a week at a time as well. I made up a template for the calendar in Word.

  • Stretch A Dime says:

    Yes, meal planning helps, cooking your own meals helps further. If you cook and eat, statistics say that you are more likely to not gain weight.

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