How Meal Planning Saves Money
Meal Planning is an essential part of saving money on groceries because when you plan your meals for the week and shop once for everything you need, you minimize the number of trips of the store. I’ve always admired people who can plan meals for an entire month and grocery shop once or twice during the month. I haven’t quite mastered that, but I do plan my meals weekly. Every Sunday at breakfast I throw out some suggestions and requests from my family and try to accommodate everyone to the best of my ability. Inevitably one my kids will ask for steak, but if it’s not on sale at the store that week, they are not having steak!
How to Meal Plan
Shop your pantry, refrigerator and freezer first
Make a mental note of what you have on hand for preparing a complete meal. You won’t save money if you continuously buy the same ingredients you already have on hand. If you have a lot of canned beans and tomatoes, you can consider a chili, a soup, a stew, if you have a lot of pasta on hand, you can try a new baked pasta dish so that it’s not the same ol’ spaghetti and meat sauce.
Plan your meals around the sale items at the grocery store
Not everything on sale can make a meal, so focus on meat and produce deals to make a meal. By planning your meals around sale meat ingredients, you are instantly saving 30 – 40% because these loss leaders are used to lure people into the store. Use the Safeway Weekly Ad to see the best deals on meat, seafood and produce. You can find the best meat, seafood and produce deals on the front page of the ad. Occasionally they will have a special 3-day sale where they will have additional hot deals on meat and seafood, but those are always promoted in the ad. We highlight the best deals in bold font in the Safeway sale and coupon matchup post so you always know the best deals to help plan your meals.
Know how many meals you need to prepare and how much food you need to buy. If you are planning just for dinners, then you need to know how many nights you plan to cook, eat left overs, go out to dinner, etc.
Write down the meals
It’s easy to download a calendar template online, or use an excel spreadsheet calendar template and just write the dinners you plan to make for the week. Once you have your meals written down, you can quickly determine and write down any additional grocery items or ingredients you need to prepare the meals. This becomes your shopping list that you’ll use at the store.
I don’t personally write down breakfast and lunches because I always have eggs, toast, oatmeal, cereal and milk available for breakfast and I give my kids those choices every morning. Lunches for the kids typically consist of either turkey and cheese or PB&J sandwiches, pretzels or Goldfish and carrots and apples. My hubby and I eat a salad for lunch almost every day, or leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.
This way you are only buying what you need for your meals, plus stocking up on great deals that you will use for future meals and you don’t have this looming question of what’s for dinner every night.
Purchase enough to re-use the main meat across multiple meals when possible
When beef roasts are on sale for under $3.00/lb (as it is on sale for $2.77/lb. this week), that means French Dip Sandwiches, beef carnitas and beef stew in one week. I cook the roast on a Sunday in the crock pot for French Dip, store left overs and add spices for carnitas on Tuesday and whatever is left over on Thursday gets turned into a beef stew. You can do the same with chicken or pork. Grill, roast or slow cook the meat on Sunday for a meal, use again Tuesday for soup and Wednesday for enchiladas or fajitas. You just need to buy enough to cook once to last throughout the week. This way, you are saving money by using the sale ingredients which are discounted 30-50%.
Use online tools to meal plan
I like to use the All Recipes app for meal planning ideas. You can enter a few ingredients you have on hand and it will suggest a few meals you can make based on what you have. All the recipes are rated by the community, and you can even see suggestions for recipe changes/improvements. This is my go to app in the kitchen when I’m meal planning. I also like to use SkinnyTaste.com, and Food Network because they have a lot of tried and true recipes that you know will work. We also give meal ideas here on SuperSafeway based on ingredients on sale. Check out our From the Kitchen page for the latest meal suggestions.
Plan for leftovers
I like to plan for leftovers for lunches, but also every few days I take a quick inventory of the leftover situation and if I have too many leftovers that won’t be eaten, I have a leftovers night, or I try to re-purpose the leftovers into a new meal. I read that American’s throw away close to 50% of food they buy. That’s a lot of wasted food and wasted money. So, don’t be rigid to the calendar, rather be flexible and try to reuse as much as possible in
Meal planning can take 10 minutes or less each week and if you make it a regular part of your weekly schedule then you will start to see your food bills decline and also food waste decline because you’ll have a plan that you can follow to feed your family healthy meals.
SuperSafeway is a blog devoted to helping you find the best deals at Safeway in the Denver division. Every week we slice and dice the ad and tell you the best deals at Safeway with and without coupons. For more low prices, check out Super Safeway’s weekly ad coupon matchup page. Want to stay updated on the best deals? If so, make sure to like Super Safeway on Facebook, join our Facebook group, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest and subscribe to our newsletter.
* Please note – Savings information is based on Colorado pricing and the Safeway Coupon Policy for the Denver Division which includes Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming and South Dakota. Your market may vary. *