Food can account for a significant part of any family’s budget, whether your family is large or small. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the cost of food in your household. Meal planning is a great way to ensure you and your family are well fed, and not only will it save you quite a bit of money in the long run, it gives you the opportunity to provide more nutritious, wholesome meals.
If you’re interested in meal planning, here are a few steps to get started:
Make a schedule for your meal plans. If you want to start slow and plan meals for one week to start, or even bi-weekly, that’s okay – it’ll help you get in the habit of doing so on a more regular basis. Start by planning for one week to get an idea of what works for your family, and what kinds of meals they like.
Talk with your family about their favorite meals. This will go a long way in developing a more ongoing meal plan. It’s good to start simple with easy dishes that have a side, or whole meals that contain all the essential food groups. Some popular meals with families include build-your-own tacos, pasta with a protein and a salad, casseroles, and BBQ chicken.
Purchase a calendar to display your weekly or monthly meal plans. This not only helps whoever handles the cooking prepare for the week, but it also doesn’t leave your kids in suspense with the common refrain, “What’s for dinner tonight?” It can also help you with not repeating dishes or food themes more than once a week; you can also use your calendar to note what meals are popular and which ones to scrap.
Build your grocery list based on the meals you plan. Once you’ve decided your meals for the week (or two weeks), write out your grocery list accordingly. If you can come up with dishes that use similar ingredients, that can save you money as well. Don’t forget to check your local advertisements for sales at nearby stores.