When you are trying to be thrifty, cooking needs to be the rule and not the exception. Not just for supper but packed lunches and breakfast. If we cook the majority of our meals then the budget will not be busted as much. Plus you get to eat a lot healthier meals than eating at a fast food restaurant. I have found that if I don’t cook or pack our lunches, we tend to eat out more and that is always a worst choice when our kids were home.
You have to be organized to make cooking at home thrifty.
Be prepared for meal planning
- Have a grocery list on your refrigerator that everyone can use and see. If not on your refrigerator, be sure to put it somewhere that everyone has access to. Train your family to get into the habit of checking off or writing down items that you are running out of or have ran out of. That way you can start putting them on your “to buy” list for the grocery store.
- Have a pantry inventory. This will help when you go to making your menus. You always want to menu plan out of your pantry, not as much off of the sale papers. You do use both to menu plan but most of the time the biggest savings comes when you use out of your panty stock up the from the sale papers re-stock your pantry.
- Use coupons when purchasing your food. Be wise when using coupons, don’t just buy because you have a coupon. Sometimes it is cheaper to not buy the coupon item and to buy the store brand, especially if you need the item right then and can’t wait for it to hit its rock bottom price.
- Keep a calendar for your family up to date. When making meal plans, one of the biggest downfalls is that we are so busy and if we don’t plan accordingly we might get frustrated and stop trying to cook and plan all together and resort to the urgent mode and feed the family what ever is available at the time. Fast food, sit down restaurant, concession stand, bowl of cereal….etc. Have your calendar of activities with you when you plan your menu and you won’t choose to make a meal that prep time is 1 hour on a night that you are out until 8 p.m.
How to meal plan
You need the following to make your meal planning successful.
- Family Calendar
- Sales Paper from grocery store
- Stockpile inventory list
- grocery list
- menu planning form
Use all these items to plan your menu. Start with your stockpile inventory list and try to build the meals off of this list and then use the sales paper to fill in the gaps. Also check your coupons and see if any of the items that you are purchasing, you have a coupon for. While working with your coupons, check on any stockpiling items that is good to buy that week too.
Try to plan meals that maybe build off of each other. For example, get a pork loin and cook it. Use 1/2 of it the first night as a pork loin roast and then the other 1/2 another night that week as shredded BBQ. Two meals totally different but the cost will be less.
Other tips for making menu planning easier:
- If you have a dish that you do often, try cooking double of the dish one night and try freezing the extra amount. This would be great for the nights that you are out late and need a quick meal. Pinterest has some wonderful freezer meals to try.
- Do a food swap with friends. Get a group of ladies together and each person cook one dish and shared with each person in the group. If there is 6 people in the group, all six of you make a different dish. Put it in disposable pans and give the dish to each one of the others. You will come home with 5 different meals not counting the one you prepared also.
- Eat a lot of seasonal fruit and veggies. This is when the prices are lower and if it is fresh, it is much healthier too.
Disclaimer….. since we are empty nesters, we try to pack lunches and eat the majority of the time at home but we do tend to eat out more. I am still very frugal in eating out and here is how we do it. It is just sometimes just as cheap to grab a meal out and split it.