When it comes to budgeting for food, it can easily be hit or miss. We may have a general idea of what we’d like to spend on food each month, but poor planning and too much dining out can throw that number down the drain. When you plan and prep properly, you can easily stay in budget. You may even be able to come in under budget and save some money! The CGS Team is sharing 4 ways you can use meal prepping to save money. It may require some getting used to in the beginning, but you will be grateful you did it!
Here’s how you can use meal prepping to save money…
#1 Plan Meals Around what you already Have in Stock
We’re all guilty of this – going to grocery store when you have enough food in your pantry or refrigerator already. Either the ingredients we have don’t sound tasty, or we would prefer other food for the week. Regardless of the reason, failing to use what you already have on hand can result in wasted food and wasted money.
Before heading to the grocery story, take an inventory of what you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. Think of meals you can make with the items you already have. For example, if you have a few cans of black beans, make black bean soup for the week. There are recipes for any and every ingredient you may have. Research your recipes and head to the store after you have confirmed you don’t have all the ingredients on hand.
#2 Shop Sales or the Discount Aisle
If you get local newspaper or advertisements for your grocery store, read through them before tossing. Get an idea of the items that are on sale that week and plan your meals based on the sale picks. If you don’t get any form of notice for sales at your grocery store, there’s always the discount aisle! Most grocery store put items that are about to expire or haven’t been selling well on discount. As long as the items are still fresh, you can save some money by planning your week’s meals on whatever items are on sale.
#3 Focus on Frugal Ingredients
We love this tip from Good Cheap Eats: “Focus your meal planning efforts on naturally frugal ingredients. Consider simply looking beyond processed foods. While those items are often on sale, their all-natural counterparts are more filling and better for you. Load up on seasonal fruits and vegetables, dry beans, whole grains, and eggs. These can help round out your menus without increasing the cost too dramatically.”
It’s nice to make luxury meals, especially if you don’t cook often, but it can save you money to plan your meals around ingredients that aren’t too pricey. Research recipes ahead of time that still peak your taste buds’ interest but don’t break the budget.
#4 Don’t Make Too Much
Leftovers are always a good idea, until there are too much of them! When making your meals for the week, make sure you prepare just enough to get you through the week. Making more could result in wasted food. Not to mention, leftovers on Friday from the previous Sunday don’t sound too appetizing, especially if you have been eating them all week.
You also may want to think about making two meals at the same time. Whatever day you have designated as your meal prep day, make two separate meals. This will allow you to switch off meals throughout the week, and you won’t have to buy twice the ingredients for each meal.
Related: 6 Tips for Healthy Meal Prepping.
As we mentioned earlier, planning and prepping your meals can save you a lot of money in the long run. Take advantage of opportunities to stay in budget, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your meals. You will be surprised at what tasty concoctions you can come up with that only have a few frugal ingredients. Do you currently have a plan for meal prepping? Do you have any tips on how to use meal prepping to save money? Share your tips and advice by leaving a comment below!