Meal Planning Ideas On A Budget
Do you feel like you’re spending a ton of money at the grocery store?
Like every time you look at your grocery receipt, you think “I spent that much and got that little?”
I totally get it I feel the same way. My grocery budget seemed to be growing out of control which is of course not what we want when we are trying to grow our net worths.
So what can we do to spend less at the grocery store?
Meal planning that’s what.
Meal planning either for the week or the month or even longer could be the key to saving you tons of money over the long haul.
So stick around and I will share with you some of the meal planning on a budget ideas I use to save money at the grocery store.
I’ll be going over:
What a meal plan is
Why meal planning saves you money
Where you should shop to save money on groceries
And my meal planning budget tips to save money all year.
So let’s get started!
Oh yeah, and this post contains affiliate links to great products that will help you in your health journey. I will get a commission if you decide to buy from these links but I’m only recommending products that I feel confident about.
What is a meal plan?
So a meal plan can mean many different things but in the context of this post, it means this:
A meal plan is simply a written (either on paper or digital) plan of what you will eat for a specified amount of time.
So if you were a complete beginner you might want to just a meal plan for the week or even just for the day and see how it goes.
Or you may want to meal plan for an entire month.
Some people get a little crazier than that in and meal plan for months and months at a time.
The tips in this post will work if you want to meal plan for a day or for the next six months.
It’s up to you.
But I want to do in this post is teach you how to meal plan on a budget.
That’s our entire focus.
Let me tell you why meal planning will make it easier for you to save money overall.
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Why do meal plans save you money
So why do meal plans to save you money?
I’ll tell you why.
Has this ever happened to you?
You go to the grocery store and you wander the aisles with no real plan in mind.
If you do this, you probably spend a lot of money every month on food.
Am I right?
I’m just going to assume that I am and tell you why this causes you to spend so much money on groceries.
When you don’t have a plan for your money at the grocery store this is what happens:
If you see your favorite snack is on sale, without any regard to your budget, you put it in your cart.
Then you see that there’s a sale on cereal so you buy that too.
Then you go down the baking aisle and realizing that there’s a sale on flour and sugar.
You leave the store congratulating yourself because you bought all of the stuff “on sale”.
You believe you’ve saved a ton of money.
But what you didn’t realize is that you actually have a stockpile of your favorite snack and you really didn’t need to buy anymore.
Or you didn’t know that flour and sugar was actually cheaper at another store and not really that great of a sale as you thought.
In other words, if you don’t take the time to meal plan before you go to the grocery store you don’t really know what it is that you need and you just spend money randomly.
Spending money randomly adds up.
Spending money without a plan is expensive.
Meal planning saves you money in several ways:
-You’ve already looked at the sales to see what the best deals are
– You’ve already made a list that is based on what you already have on hand, events that are coming up such as that dinner date you have on Friday where you don’t need to cook
– You won’t get distracted by sales and other promotions going on in the store that you didn’t know about
– You’ve already done the calculations to see what the best prices are
So now that you know why you should meal plan especially on a budget, let me share the best grocery stores to shop on a budget.
Where Should I Shop To Save Money On Groceries?
Some of the best places to save money on groceries on places like Kroger Aldi and Sam’s Club.
Why are these the best places you might be wondering?
Take Kroger for instance.
They have coupons, both digital and paper.
If you’re a loyal customer they send you coupons in the mail.
But with the digital coupons, all you have to do is sign up for their loyalty card and start clipping their digital coupons to your account.
When you purchase those qualifying items, the coupons will automatically come off when your card is scanned.
Plus, Kroger has lots of ways to save money such as their buy five save five promotions, loyalty rewards card, stacking manufacturers coupon and in-store coupons, gas rewards, and more.
True couponers (Of which I am not one) even know how to get free groceries at Kroger!
I’m not that coupon savvy but I still am able to save money there in a variety of ways. Be sure to check out the storyboard above to get a feel of the different ways to save money at Kroger.
Aldi is also a great place to save money.
I can buy healthy food at Aldi at unbeatable prices. Their produce is so cheap that we don’t really have a reason not to buy healthy foods.
Even their organic foods are reasonable.
Sam’s is also an amazing place to buy groceries especially if you have a family!
Buying food in bulk really can save you money!
It doesn’t every time but many times it does.
You need to do the math to calculate the price per unit and see if it’s worth it for the food you want to buy but in many cases buying groceries in bulk is the way to go!
9 Meal Planning On A Budget Ideas
Now let’s jump into ways you can meal plan on a budget!
1) Buy In Bulk
Like we just mentioned buying in bulk can save you so much money.
So what you can do when you meal planning is this:
Create a meal plan that will use the same ingredients over and over.
This is what I mean…let’s say you decide to get a Sam’s Club membership and you buy rice in bulk.
Now you have a 25-pound bag of rice.
With your newly acquired mountain of rice, you should create a meal plan for the next month or longer that includes rice dishes.
You need to find some rice casserole recipes, some rice bowl recipes, etc so you can use your rice bounty.
Or you can do it the opposite way and come up with the recipes first.
Choose recipes that use a lot of the same ingredients, buy those ingredients in bulk and then use those ingredients in many different dishes and meals.
2) Use Ibotta Like This When Meal Planning On A Budget
Using Ibotta will save you so much money.
But of course, you have to know but what Ibotta is in order to use it right?
Ibotta is a grocery cashback app that is completely free to use.
You can go to the App Store on your phone right now and download it free of charge.
Then once you register you can pick the stores where are you like to shop and start adding offers to your account.
The cashback offers that you add to your account will vary per store.
For instance, if you choose to shop at Kroger, you click on the Kroger icon and scan their list of products in the Kroger section.
When you see a product that has a cashback offer available, tap the teal plus sign, complete any task they ask you to complete, and that offer is added to your account.
Completing the offer might include watching a video, answering a question, or just reading a little more about the company that makes the product.
But how do you get the cashback I hear you asking?
How To Get Cashback On Groceries From Ibotta
I’m so glad you asked. Now you go to the store, in this case, Kroger.
Buy that product(s) that you completed an offer for, making sure you hold on to your receipt.
Then you go back to the Ibotta app, click the Kroger icon, click upload receipt and take a photo of your Kroger receipt that has the products you can earn cashback on.
Once you take the picture of the receipt a list of the products you have in your Kroger account will appear.
Click check marks next to the products that are on your receipt.
Choose how many of each item you bought (because sometimes you can buy multiple items and get cashback on each item you buy!) and add the offers.
That’s it. That money should be in your Ibotta account in 24 hours or less if there are no issues!
Using this app has saved me over $100 simply by buying items that I was going to buy anyway.
When you’re creating your meal plan go through the Ibotta app and see what offers are available.
Those products might spark an idea or two of different meals that you can make throughout the week.
If you see that Ibotta is offering a deal on seafood, you might decide to make a shrimp dinner that week because you’ll get two dollars in cashback if you do.
See how that works?
Go to the app first and see what products are offering cashback and plan your meals around those products.
3)Freeze Food Yourself
Another way you can save money majorly is by freezing food yourself.
So let me tell you how it seems to work. The more work a company has to do for your food the more expensive the food costs.
That means that it’s cheaper for you in most cases to buy let’s say a package of strawberries in the produce section as opposed to the frozen food section.
Because the company had to do that extra work to cut the stem off the strawberry, then wash and freeze the berries and you better believe it you’re paying for that.
However, if you’re willing to do that yourself you can save a lot of money.
And when you freeze food you can plan meals for months to come.
4) Forget Fancy Packaging
So this is a question that you might need to ask yourself.
Is it more important for me to save money or save time?
If it’s more important for you to save time and convenience packaging is the way to go.
But if saving money is more important then it is cheaper to buy produce and chicken with the fancy packaging.
It’s cheaper to buy spinach in a bunch than it is to buy spinach in a sealed plastic bag that’s already been washed.
When creating your meal plans, consider this when you’re deciding which kind of grocery items to buy.
5) Coupons Are Still A Thing
In case you’re wondering yes coupons are still a thing.
If you’re not using coupons I strongly urge you to start.
Now as I mentioned before I am not a true couponer.
I don’t know how to go to Publix and get $200 worth of groceries for $.50.
But what I do know how to do is look for a sale and then look for a coupon on that same item that’s on sale and stack that with an Ibotta cashback offer.
It doesn’t always work out like that but when it does it’s so sweet.
Then you can plan your meals around the coupons that you find
Where To Look For Coupons
Some places to look for coupons would be:
Conclusion To Meal Planning Ideas On A Budget
Remember when you were wandering around the store just adding random products to your basket?
Now you’re going into the store with a meal plan, a list based on your budget and your meal plan, and you’ll be saving money as you go!
Download A Free Grocery List Planner
Before you go, I have a free grocery list planner that you can download for free from my Healthy Body & Healthy Living resource library.
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