Resources come at a premium around here
As a stay at home mom with one income and 6 mouths (or more!) to feed at any given time, it goes without saying that when it comes to meals, the use of our resources takes some planning. I am regularly looking for ways to save our family time and money. I coupon, use rebate apps, schedule my grocery trips, and shop for sales. Which often means going to 3 different grocery stores in a week, just so I can get the best possible deals! Some weeks I simply don’t have the time to fit it all in.
The one thing I do without fail every week?
Why? Besides the fact that I am a die hard planner who completely spirals out of control without a well executed plan in place? I’m glad you asked!
I Want to Save Time
I don’t waste time trying to decide what to fix for dinner every night. When dinner can already take an hour or more to prepare and cook, every minute counts.
I’m sure you can think of plenty of things you could do, or should do in the time it takes to look in the freezer, then the pantry, then the fridge. Maybe stand there for a few minutes while your eyes glaze over. Finally deciding on something to cook only to realize you are missing one key ingredient. Then, ultimately starting the whole process all over again. Am I right?
While I do have a hubby who is always more than willing to make that last minute trip to the store for me, I would much rather him be able to kick his shoes off and spend time with our babies after the typical long day and nightmare commute home.
Plus, a last minute trip to the store for a couple things also means starting dinner later than I would like to. Then we eat later. Get the kitchen cleaned later. The kids go to bed later. You get the point.
It’s much easier for me to just look at the menu on the wall in the morning. Then I know what I’m cooking that night and what time I need to start working on it.
I Want to Save Money
When we first decided I would stay home with our Littles, we took a look at our budget. The weekly grocery budget, for most families, is one household expense that can be adjusted. I knew stretching our grocery dollars would make a big impact for us.
I mentioned before the use of apps, coupons, and sales to save money. They are a given if your goal is to make your grocery dollars last, but how does meal planning save money?
- I know exactly what I need to buy to feed my family for the week. Which means I don’t waste money buying food that is either going to sit in the pantry for weeks (or longer!) or in the fridge until it inevitably spoils before it’s eaten. Wasted food is money down the drain.
- It means one trip to the store a week instead of one every other day for just a couple things. I’m not wasting money driving back and forth multiple times.
- You can plan your meals so that your ingredients coordinate. Instead of buying a whole container of heavy whipping cream for the 1/2 cup you need for one recipe…make 2 or three recipes that require it. Then you aren’t throwing out what you didn’t use when it goes bad in a few days. This is great for fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs or anything else that tends to spoil quickly.
- When I don’t know what I”m going to make for dinner, and I can’t seem to find the ingredients for a complete meal, it’s easy to just “order out”. Pizza, Chinese, tacos…the list goes on and on, and they are all tempting options when it’s either that or drive to the store to grab what you need just to finally get home and have to cook for an hour. Plus, it’s easy to spend twice (or more) on dinner out than you would eating something you make at home.
- Also, if you are like me, when you make a last minute trip to the grocery store right before dinner, you are hungry. Which means you are more likely to walk out with $50 of groceries…not $5…because everything looks so good! I can’t tell you how many times a last minute trip to the store for ketchup or breadcrumbs resulted in a few bags of chips, ice cream, and a $5 gallon of “the good chocolate milk”.
I Want to Save Myself (from extra calories)
It’s hard to not head straight for the pantry or freezer when you are absolutely dying for something a little sweet. Here’s usually how it goes for me:
I eat a little something salty only to feel like it needs to be followed by something sweet to balance out my taste buds. Then the sweet is just too much, so I go back for a few more chips. Before I know it, a tube of Pringles and a half a box of Andes are gone. Then I feel disappointed in myself, I’m frustrated I didn’t have more will power, and my stomach hurts because I just consumed enough sugar to rival my 3 year old after raiding the hidden stash of Halloween candy he found.
It’s so much easier to eat healthy if you plan out your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the week. Then when you get that need for sugar, there’s nothing bad for you to gorge on, and you are more likely to grab a piece of fruit instead of your favorite sugary/salty snack. Bonus: it helps your family choose healthier options, too!
So if your grocery dollars and your time come at a premium, you are trying hard to maintain or improve your figure, or if you just completely despise grocery shopping…consider meal planning. 15 minutes a week could also be saving you time, money, your waistline…and your sanity!
And to help you get started, I’ve created a super cute meal planner and grocery list, and made them available to print for FREE in the MMJ Member Library! If you aren’t a member yet…no worries! You can sign up right here.
Save even more time and money by using your local grocery pick up service. It allows me to compare prices across brands at my own convenience, and the one I use is FREE! I often do all my grocery shopping online after the kids go to bed, then just go pick it up the next morning. You just pick when you want to pick up your things, let them know when you are there or are on your way, avoid having to search for parking or stand in lines, then head home to unload. It can be a lifesaver when you have little ones to tote to the store with you.