Saving Money on Food - Budget Meal Planning
In this economy, saving money on food is of big interest to most people on a budget. We all know how easy it can be to spend too much money on food, especially as food prices continue to spiral upwards.
Using Canadian grocery coupons can go a long way towards bringing that weekly grocery bill down, but the most effective way to spend less money on food is to combine couponing with budget meal planning.
Think for a moment about how much you spend on groceries for you and your family each week. Would you be up to the challenge of aggressively reducing that, even if only for one week per month? A good goal for a family of four might be to only spend $60 per week on groceries. Of course, to achieve that, you may need to make a few sacrifices and change some eating habits, but it's certainly do-able.
Consider your current eating habits and determine whether it is realistic to make some simple switches. Instead of rushing through fast food restaurants or grabbing quick and expensive snacks from vending machines, you would need to become more open to cooking wholesome meals at home (which in most cases would be healthier anyway).
By preparing a menu of three meals per day for seven days, you will become more mindful of getting the most out of each meal prepared. This includes being creative with leftovers as well as storing food in the freezer for later use.
Budget meal planning may sound like a lot of work for a busy family, but it actually makes meal times much more simple. Instead of stopping by the grocery store on the way home from picking up the kids, you could simply grab a pre-cooked meal out of the freezer and then serve it with a fresh salad or vegetables - and you're done!
Preparing for a Weekly Budget Meal Plan
To prepare your menu for the upcoming week, start by setting your budget. Then, browse the online flyers and jot down specials at your local stores to get inspiration.
When thinking about saving money on food, consider any local produce or seasonal vegetables that are cheap at this time of the year.
The most budget-friendly fruit and vegetables in Canada include bananas, apples, celery, potatoes, brocolli, carrots, onions and cabbage.
Look for stores that have special offers on meat, too. Pork tenderloin or chops are quite inexpensive and versatile, as well as chicken breasts and thighs and of course ground beef. A pre-cooked rotisserie chicken can be a life-saver for any busy family on a budget.
While browsing the online flyers, do coupon match-ups with the Canadian grocery coupons in your binder. Remember that some stores will price match and so consider browsing the flyers of all your local supermarkets to see where the best deals are.
A big consideration when saving money on food is to redeem your Canadian grocery coupons when products are already cheap: whether in season, on sale, or both.
Pay particular attention to bargains on pantry and fridge staples such as pasta, rice, gravy mixes, cereal, milk, eggs, flour, sugar, butter and yeast.
Ways to Come Up With Meal Ideas
As you make notes of the food that will be the most economical, you will most likely start forming ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Remember to consider the food that you have in the house already. You will also want to consider items like dried herbs and bullion cubes to inexpensively add flavour and depth to your meals.
Feeling overwhelmed? Need some help coming up with suggestions for your meal plan?
- Discover Meal Planning Made Simple and find out how saving money on food can actually be easy and fun!
(Just provide your name and email address and they will send you a free printable menu planner and shopping list!)
Tips for Buying Food Cheaper
- Don't buy shredded cheese; instead grate it yourself and you will save money!
- Go for a "no name" brand if you're not a loyal brand consumer. Sometimes you can save a dollar or two per item.
- Stop Feeding Your Kids Junk! If they ask for candy or other sweet treats then encourage them to use their own pocket money to buy it. It will help you to stick to your budget (you will still be saving money on food) and it will help your kids to learn the value of money.
- Consider making your own bread rather than buying the sliced brand-name stuff. It's much cheaper and quite often more delicious if you make it yourself. If you must buy bread at the store then opt for bulk buy buns and bagels in the store's bakery section.
- Don't buy milk in single liter containers, but instead opt for a large jug to keep you going throughout the entire week. Remember to recycle the container afterwards for a refund on your deposit.
- Buy ground beef in bulk and separate into smaller portions for different recipes. Freeze what you don't need for later use.
- An easy tip for saving money on food is to make the most of a rotiserie chicken. Strip all meat and divide into three containers: one for sandwiches, one for soup and then one for a pot pie. Freeze what you don't intend to use right away.
- Make your own delicious chicken stock in a slow cooker using the chicken bones, water, onion celery, carrot, salt and pepper. Cook on low for several hours. Split the stock into containers and use for chicken soup or pot pie.
- Drink plenty of water (or tea) during your budget week. Water is free and so much healthier than pop or other sugary drinks. Fruit juices are delicious but can be expensive. You could always water down fruit juice to make it stretch further. Read this article 5 Ways to Make Water More Interesting.
- Read Frugal Tips for Saving Money on Food for useful and practical tips from Visitors to this site.
You could also download Saving Money on Groceries - Free Ebook from Christine Steendahl (The "Menu Mom") to help you come up with some more ideas.
Above all, when you are experimenting with meal planning and budgeting, remember have fun with it! Saving money on food can be fun when backed with a little inspiration and creativity.