Frugal Meal Planning

Meal planning is economical and this article helps point out a few ways to help organize your shopping to plan for meals.

Frugal Meal Planning
With the rising cost of groceries and two teenage sons, my husband and I were finding our grocery bill soaring out of control. I was not planning my shopping well enough. This resulted in too much impulse buying, and purchasing quick convenience foods. They were not only more expensive, but the meals were not as nutritious, either. I felt guilty every time I came home from the grocery store. The cycle had to be stopped, so I came up with this plan. It has worked very well for our family, and we have saved hundreds of dollars.

Master Shopping List
My first step was to create a master shopping list. I listed foods, kitchen staples, and baking supplies. Next came health and beauty items, paper products, cleaning and laundry needs, and even school supplies. It takes some time to compile this list, but it is time wisely invested. It saves time and money later on. I keep the list in a three ring binder, which is my household notebook.

Plan Monthly and Weekly Menus
Don’t panic! This is not as overwhelming as it may sound. On notebook paper, brainstorm twenty to thirty different meals that your family likes. Include a few quick and easy meals for those exceptionally busy evenings. You’ll be surprised at how many different selections you can come up with. They don’t have to be elaborate, just practical for your family. Here are a few examples:

  • Lasagna, salad, garlic bread
  • Pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce
  • Chile, cornbread, coleslaw
  • Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Chicken potpie, sliced peaches

This not only helps you plan meals quickly, but gives your family a variety. It keeps you from getting into that “same old thing for dinner” rut. It also makes shopping easier, quicker, and less wasteful.

Create a Weekly Menu and Shopping List
Now it’s time to narrow this down for the week. With this system it’s fast and simple. Choose seven meals from your monthly menu. Write down the ingredients you need for those meals. Then scan your master shopping list for any other foods or supplies you need to stock up on. If you have coupons that match your list, paper clip them to it. Now you’re ready to shop.

Shop Wisely
Once you are at the grocery store, stick to your list as much as possible. It’s amazing how much money this alone saves. The stores count on luring their customers into impulse buying. Try not to fall into this trap.
If you like some of the generic brands or store brands, go with these. For certain items, you may prefer the name brands. I save on a lot of items, but I won’t compromise my favorite brand of coffee! You might try the discount stores where you bag your own groceries. Our family has saved a lot of money with these stores, and the products have been just as good as the name brands for a fraction of the price.

With a little planning and organization, you can become a more frugal shopper. Your family will enjoy a variety of interesting meals, and you won’t have spent a fortune of groceries.

Inez Haythorn is a Christian wife, mother, elementary school teacher, pianist, and freelance writer. Her main writing interests are Christian writing, and writing about lifestyles and memoirs of the past. She is the publisher of Christian Family Treasures, Heirloom Memories, and Cherished Collections. Her goal is to glorify and honor God, and bless and help others. Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.

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