the average American household spends $8000.00 a year on groceries alone. If you could cut that cost by ¼ you could save $2000.00 a year! And then there is the nearly $3500.00 that the average family spends on dining out as some reports suggest. Those numbers may sound high when combined over a year, but it is really $154.00 week on groceries and $67.00 a week on dining out. Dining out includes any meal purchased outside the grocery store including but not limited to coffees, sodas, fast food, and snacks.
When I talk about menu planning, I do not mean a strict “meatloaf on Thursdays” approach to your family meals. Rather I want you to plan ahead each week what you are going to have the following week based upon 1. Food you already have and 2. Foods that are on sale.Menu Planning Tips:
1. Plan out your groceries for the following week before you go to the grocery store for the week
2. Shop your freezer, fridge, and pantry first for ideas
3. Plan meals that share ingredients. Don’t forget to chop once, use twice. For instance, if you have a couple recipes that call for sliced carrots; slice them all at once and store the extra in the refrigerator until needed.
4. Plan your meals based upon your week activities. For example, if you work late on a certain night, make that night soup and sandwich night.
5. Buy meats that are on sale this week to create a meal a following week. Don’t plan to make a boneless skinless chicken breast meal only to go to the grocery store and find that it is $5.99 a pound. Rather, put that recipe on hold for another week when you have purchased your chicken on sale.
6. Use your freezer! Don’t store your meats in your refrigerator, unless you absolutely plan on eating the meat within the next two days, place it in a freezer safe baggy and clearly mark its contents.
7. Plan a leftover night once a week. I prefer to do this the night before I go for groceries
8. Prep your produce when you come home from the grocery store – wash and cut vegetables and wrap in a paper towel and place into a ziplock storage bag.
9. Coupons are great…but: If you cannot find the time (or desire) to clip coupons, don’t sweat it. I would much prefer you buy what you eat and eat what you buy. That said, there are many great online sites to teach you how to maximize your grocery budget with coupons.
10. Lastly, get the family involved in picking out the meals for the following week. Have your older children come up with a menu. Encourage them to shop in the cabinets and see what recipes could be made with certain foods.