How to make meal plans that will save you money
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SavingsAngel is now FREE, so I wanted to pair that with a great way for you to use all that powerful deal information to make delicious, frugal meals for your family. As I was coming up with how to pick the right meal plan, I chatted with Erin Chase of $5 Meal Plan.
She says that when you have dinners planned, you save not only your sanity but also a lot of money because you don't end up throwing away ingredients you never used. I couldn't agree more.
I also thought about how meal planning gives additional benefits, like increasing your family's meal variety (even expanding the palate of picky eaters), maintaining healthy eating and portion control, and avoiding the expense of dining out.
If you've tried meal planning in the past, with poor results, I'm here to give you the tips on picking and executing the right plan and to encourage you to try the $5 Meal Plan.
Here's how to make meal plans that will save you money…
(1) Pick a step-by-step plan.
When you don't have a detailed plan, you run out of time, energy, and even the ability to make any new decisions for the day. The stress of not having steps to follow causes the domino effect of decision fatigue, procrastination, and finally just throwing together whatever you can. Stop that cycle with a complete plan, where everything is written out. When you have step-by-step, for the whole process from shopping for the right ingredients ahead of time to putting it all together, then you can just execute your plan. There's no need to make any new decisions or having to deal with the lack of ingredients.
(2) Always stay at least one meal ahead.
Ever plan to make a certain meat for dinner and realize at about 3 p.m. that you never thawed it? Proper meal planning eliminates that problem and keeps you a step ahead. Such as instructing you to start the slow cooker during breakfast or having you chop extra veggies for dinner while you're already preparing lunch. All good cooks know it's so much more time and cost effective to prepare ingredients once for two (or even three) meals, like chopping and dividing a whole onion between breakfast and dinner recipes. Not only does it save time to cut the whole thing at once, you don't end up just wrapping up half an onion and losing it in the back of the fridge.
(3) Tailor your plan around sales and your stockpile.
A value-packed meal plan has standard, common ingredients in every set of plans. For example, offering a chicken dish, a beef dish, and vegetables or fruits to choose from in each and every weekly plan, so you can pick recipes and tailor your week to what's on sale and what you've already stocked up on at a great price.
By using SavingsAngel's free matched store and coupon lists, you'll know when things like meat or canned tomatoes are a deal, saving you hundreds by being able to stock up, never paying retail, and actually using what you've bought.
(4) Avoid plans that require expensive ingredients, are too complicated, or are so fancy you don't use up all of an ingredient.
Some meal plans are so fancy and so complicated that you actually end up spending more. Obviously, meal plans that require you to purchase pricey ingredients are a huge budget drain. But less obvious budget drains are plans that are too complicated to realistically execute on a regular basis, or ones that force you to buy an ingredient, only use a little of it and then leave you with no plan for the remaining amount.
Let's face it if the recipes are complicated and require too many steps – or you end up with leftover ingredients that go bad – you're not going to stick with it. A good, family (and budget)-friendly meal plan won't require expensive ingredients, uses a reasonable amount of effort, and will always have a way to use up what you've opened.
(5) Keeps you from buying the same foods week after week, regardless of price.
If you've found yourself in a food rut, whether because you simply don't know what else to make, don't have the right ingredients on hand to try something new, or because of picky eaters, a healthy meal plan can get you out of that. No more spending money week after week on the same foods, forced to buy regardless of price because it's all you know. A meal plan can expand your variety and your palette while shrinking your budget. It can even improve your cooking skills as you try new recipes!
If you're as excited as I am about having a meal plan, Erin has a special offer for SavingsAngel fans. Right now you can sign up for her FREE 14-day trial plan. There’s no risk, you don’t need to continue if you decide not to – following your free trial.
Erin will be launching a really cool new web app for her meal plan that will give you the ability to pick your own recipes and more. This will make it just that much easier to track the sales and save money! After the web app launches, the price of the plan will go up.
By joining me and signing up NOW, before the web app is launched, you’ll get grandfathered in with the $5 a month plan and also get the app!!
You will ALSO be invited to join me for a live video chat where I will answer your questions about using $5 Meal Plan and FREE SavingsAngel together.