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5 Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget
Your grocery bill can be a huge portion of your budget, regardless of how many people you’re feeding. Would it surprise you to know that in a study by The Bureau of Labor Statistics they found that food is the third-largest household expense for most families? They also found that the average grocery store spend for a family of four was around $600 month for the super thrifty shopper and over $1,300 for those with a bigger budget.
If you can relate, these tips will help you reduce your spend each month by as much as 25%.
1. Check sales first, and then plan. Take a look at your local store’s weekly specials, add sale items to your list then find some recipes you can prepare using these items. By discovering the sale items first and planning your meals around them, you will save money and you will avoid buying expensive ingredients that you may only need for one recipe.
2. Plan several meals. Cook once, but make several meals. For instance, a roast chicken may make a great family dinner, but the leftover meat can be turned into chicken salad or added to soup for lunch the next day. A pot roast that’s a little larger than your family will eat, makes great tacos or chili for dinner the next night. By getting at least two meals each time you cook, you will save both time and money.
3. Focus on Sale Items. Your grocery list should always include at least a few sale items. In addition to building your meal plan for the week around what happens to be on sale, think ahead to what you might need next week or the week after that you can pick up while it’s on sale.
4. If it’s on sale, stock up! Stocking up on sale items is always good idea; especially for canned, frozen or packaged foods that you can keep on hand for future meals. By stocking up on canned or frozen vegetables, rice, and pasta, you always have sides for a last minute meal. Stock up on meats as well and freeze them. If you regularly stock up on sales items, you can usually find a last minute dinner right in your freezer or pantry without a trip to the store and without spending any more money.
5. Purchase store brands. In most cases, store brands are equivalent to name brand products, in both quantity and quality. They just happen to be a lot less expensive. In fact, in most cases, they are the EXACT same product with a different label. You can save big by choosing the store brand.