Menu planning on a budget is something that I personally struggle with, but it really is possible. There seems to be a fine line between eating healthy, having enough to eat, and not going overboard financially. Both my son and I have health issues that require us to live a gluten-free lifestyle; while my daughter and husband can eat anything they please. Having a family with two different dietary needs is a challenge at times. In order to save money it’s best that I often prepare two separate dishes of the same meal. However, time and stress typically win the battle as I prepare one big gluten-free meal for us all.
Menu planning on a budget – ideas that save me time and money . . .
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What’s the secret to menu planning on a budget?
I have found that when I use my printable shopping list, and stick to the guidelines below that my family of four can eat a week’s worth of food for $50-$80 US. However, when life gets to me and I ignore the recommendations below – we easily spend $150 or more on the same weeks worth of food.
Many struggles with finances and meal planning on a budget – have led me to a very doable way of lowering the cost of living. As a busy mom it can be especially challenging when life gets hectic to remain true to the guidelines. We brush it off as just one more thing to do, and complain that nobody has the time for that. As a result, we end up paying more money for items – sometimes twice as much for something. That may create a vicious cycle, living paycheck to paycheck and worrying that you might never get ahead. Avoid such pitfalls, with a simple plan!
Create A Menu
This one would seem obvious but let’s be honest, we all at some point or another stop making a menu plan and then the question of “what do you want to eat tonight?” comes out of our mouths. When we get to the point we either choose to eat out, order in, or just throw something together. It may seem that staying in and throwing something together would be the wiser or the three and it’s true that it is. However, it is not the best option out there.
You see, when you create a true menu plan you know exactly what needs to be bought and exactly what needs to be cooked. It’s when divert from a menu plan that added cost occur both in-house and at the grocery store. Suddenly we find our selves places whatever seems best into the grocery cart or we find ourselves pulling random items from the pantry without thinking of the overall plan.
Running late? It’s more convenient to swing in to the nearest store to do your grocery shopping but doing so can drastically increase your cost. Driving a little out of your way can at times cut your cost in half without any added work on your end. If you must go into the other store see if they will do a price comparison for you. Certain store such as Wal-Mart offer a price comparison app that automatically refunds you any money. Other stores do their best to compete with the competition and as long as you can offer proof they will drop the prices just to keep you happy as their customer.
Earlier I mentioned my family has dietary needs. Just a small bit of back story here, my son and I each have to remain on a gluten-free diet. This is a health issue that we each seek medical attention with. Additionally, my daughter was born with a kidney disease and while this hasn’t had great effect on her overall health it does require that we remain aware of what goes into her body. We are also a family of many allergies and at times have been told to go diary free due to our health. Menu planning on a budget really is possible!
Although it may feel like meal planning is difficult with special dietary needs, the point of this back story is to say that eating clean wholesome foods is actually a great way for families to save money. While fresh fruits are often expensive you can actually save your family money by eating natural foods that are in season versus eating packaged foods that you deep freeze. Once again this does require a menu plan but by buying fresh foods and using the same fresh food more than once in a given week you will be saving your family a lot of money. Also, that goes a long ways for the grocery budget.
Menu planning on a budget works well when you combine coupons with your list. Traditionally, paper coupons still work but with the many changes over the years clipping coupons has become even easier. Many websites such as this one offers free coupons online that you can just click and print. Other ways to find items are for searching for the exact item that you need with the word “coupon” afterward. Also, you will find coupons on the brand page website. Additionally, sites such as Swagbucks allow you to save money on many popular websites just by using them to search and order for your items.