This week, I’m starting a series on meal planning and how I save money on groceries. I thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on how to do this. Really being strategic about planning out a weekly menu, shopping with a list and managing leftovers can seriously save money on groceries. When you consider that the big 3 household expenditures are housing, transportation and food, learning how to better manage your kitchen is a great money saving opportunity. Of course, it’s not all about money. Just think of how much healthier food you prepare at home can be for your family. For much less than going out to eat, you can put whole, nutritious foods on your table that will be a benefit to everyone.
This is part one of an ongoing series of our weekly meal plan and grocery shopping trip. Each week, I’ll provide you with a daily meal plan and grand total spent.
Of Food Budgets And Success
I feel really good about our meal plan this week. As the picture shows, shopping frugally doesn’t mean going without or eating Ramen and Spaghetti O’s. Rather, I’ve found great deals on nutritious whole foods for the week. I was able to pick up a few extra items for later that were marked down without going over the budget. How exciting!
The Leftovers Dilemma
Using all your food is the most budget friendly option, but coming up with creative ideas for how to do that can be challenging. I don’t think anyone likes eating the same thing for days; I certainly don’t. One way to avoid this is to freeze individual portions for later meals. Another way is to recreate your leftovers into something tasty and appealing you can eat right away. That’s exactly what I did to transform our hummus and veggies into a satisfying veggie hummus wrap.
Meatless Meals Save Money
Adding a few vegetarian dinners into your weekly meal plan is a great way to reduce food costs. I’ve found many delicious meatless options that are healthy and cheap. Bonus – they are excellent to eat the next day for lunch. Today, I’m making vegetarian burrito bowls and, with a little planning ahead, they are so easy to make. Crockpot, you are my favorite kitchen appliance! I use this little one, a real bargain at $9. It’s much more energy-efficient than my gas range and I don’t have to babysit the pot!
Meal Planning And Soup Making
It just so happens that I’m checking my pantry and freezer while making a grocery list today. I’ve found quite a few great meals, including a yummy soup for today.This is yet another proclamation for my love of soup on wintery days. Today, Boulder is expecting 10inches of snow and I find myself lucky enough to have the day off. That means I can look out the window and exclaim, “oh how pretty the snow is,” without having to deal with driving in it. It also means I’m craving a warm bowl of homemade soupy goodness.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to save more money (and pay off debt). For us, this pursuit began in August rather than January. Calculating how much you spend in a give month on eating out is a really beneficial exercise if this is a goal for you as well. That’s exactly what we did when we made the decision to get serious about our finances.
Put Those Overripe Bananas To Good Use
It’s so easy to let fresh fruit get away from you. You turn around and suddenly those perfect, yellow bananas you bought earlier in the week have now become mushy and brown. How does that happen so quickly? Part of being frugal when it comes to groceries is using up everything you buy. You worked hard for that money: don’t waste it!
Leftover Bits Transformed
As usual, my boys returned from school hungry and ready for a second lunch. Making creative snacks is a great way to use up leftovers – not to mention get your kids to eat a healthy snack. A Panini is just one way to put all those little bits and pieces from other meals to good use. After making a quick search of the refrigerator, I found the makings for a tasty panini.
Positive New Year’s Resolutions
Each January, most people make New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, get in shape, save money, and so on. I think reflecting on your past year is a great way to add direction to your life in the coming one. It’s easy to beat yourself up over the things you didn’t do so well at. Instead of reflecting on the negative, I’m choosing to remind myself of goals I made the year before; what I did well, and what needs improvement. This seems like a healthier way to handle New Year’s resolutions. I recognize that I’m not perfect, but there are areas that I feel really proud of. I want to continue to build upon those and gain encouragement to do better on the rest.
What’s Your New Year’s Word?
I’ve read quite a few articles recently on choosing a word, kind of like a theme, for the coming year. Give your New Year’s resolution a name. I think this is a great way to focus on the ‘flavor’ you want the new year to have. Maybe if getting into shape is your goal, strength would be your word. If saving is your thing, frugal or discipline are good choices. I think my word for this year is going to be Intentionality. As I look back on my goals for last year, I feel really encouraged about what I’ve accomplished. Rather than create new resolutions, I want to continue on with the ones I chose last year. To do this, I see that I need to be very intentional about my attitudes and choices. So, My New Year’s resolution is to follow the path I started this time last year because it is bringing me closer to the life I want.
Tiny Steps To Big Goals
Goals are funny things; each day is made up of hundreds of seemingly harmless choices that can make or break your path to reaching them. Realizing this shouldn’t fill your heart with indecisiveness or fear about making choices, but rather, encourage you that each good one brings you closer to your chosen goal. It’s like that saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This attitude can make achieving what you want so much more attainable. Small, intentional choices along the way make change seem less overwhelming. I’ll give you some examples from my life…
I have written quite a bit about being frugal and living simply. The reason behind this is a goal my husband and I have made to get out of debt and save more. Being successful at this means more options and freedom for the life we’re aiming to create. This goal is an admission that we’ve been far from perfect in our financial choices. Rather than focus on the negative here, I am choosing to follow a different thought process: I’m thankful that we realized at a relatively young age that we needed to change in order to reach our goals. A positive focus can make the journey joyful rather than penitent.
More on our journey to financial freedom later.
Live And Learn
For now, I want to encourage you to celebrate what you did well last year. Don’t ignore your shortcomings by any means; our failures are excellent teachers when we look at them honestly. Look at the good, bad and ugly. Then, decide where you want to end up. You can’t begin or finish a journey unless you map the route. What will your path be this year? What daily choices can help you make each step? Once you identify your destination, try to focus on what you need to do today to get there. Focusing on today rather than the whole year will make each day an accomplishment.