Now more than ever, I try and stay out of stores as much as possible. Grocery shopping used to be so relaxing, especially going early in the morning. Remember the good ole days? The days before masks, gloves, arrows on the floor, and the stress of treating my neighbor like they have the plague?
Meal planning can really be intimidating. When I first began my hunt for a system that worked for me and it definitely took some trial and error. I encourage you to try a few methods out until you find one that works best for you! That is the beauty of meal planning. It is there to serve you and change with you!
I am thankful to have found a plan that works for Hubby and I. I must give credit where it is due– please check out @PenniesIntoPearls on Instagram and YouTube. Brittany is a wiz when it comes to budgeting and monthly meal planning! Her methods are so flexible to allow you to do what works best for you and your family.
Her method is simply doing a big monthly grocery haul once a month and then a quick trip each week for fresh produce. Food is the quickest way to “control” your budget. If you are savvy, it can save you mega bucks planning ahead for groceries.
There are a lot of reasons I monthly grocery shop, but I have narrowed it down to the most essential in lieu of time.
1. Save money
We were very tight on money 3 years ago when we began our journey to becoming debt free. After crunching numbers and receipts, I realized that we save hundreds of dollars a month by monthly grocery shopping.
2. Less time in stores
The less time I spend in the store, the less impulsive buys I make. If I stick to my list, I can grocery shop for all of our items once a month. Then I only spend 10-15 minutes a week running in for fresh produce items. This saves me so much time and the headache weekly grocery shopping can induce. Overall, I spend an hour monthly grocery hauling and then another hour for the quick trips once a week. I spend a total of 2 hours a month grocery shopping!!! Hallelujah! That is more time to do other things I love.
3. Meal Prep
Logging your weekly meals allows you to make notes of what was a success and what was a flop. I will pair dinners together that can use some of the same fresh produce within the same week. Chilli always calls for a hefty bell pepper and onion, but so does chicken friend rice, so why not plan the two in the same week. This way, you don’t end up wasting precious produce.
4. Budget conscious
We all know that shopping while hungry is a bad idea, but I have even fallen prey to the sales and deals that greet me at the entrance of major grocery stores. You know, the mountainous piles of canned corn and chef bouardie? Although I could save a few dollars stocking up on some of the pantry items, I find that they get lost and I never use them before they expire.
My only exception to this are the deals on meat or fruit that I can freeze. I absolutely think that these are worth taking advantage of as long as you leave room in your budget for those sales.
5. Less stress
Overall, I am less stressed about dinner. Hubby and I both work full time and running to the grocery store AND cooking at the end of a long day can be a bit much some days. Knowing I have meat thawing in the fridge from the night before and all of my ingredients in the house allows me the freedom to look at my weekly schedule for meals and not have to think so hard.
Like I mentioned Brittany above, she has so many great ideas for monthly meal prepping. If one month is too intimidating, try a 2 week plan to start!