One of the best ways to keep the weekly shopping budget lower is to pre-plan. I must confess, in our house we are divided about planning our meals. I like to be organized and know what’s happening when whilst Mr. M likes to cook whatever he feels like at the time. Making one supermarket shop per week also helps keep the budget in check.
Extra shopping trips can become expensive and can result in unexpected impulse purchases especially when shopping hungry. The extra drink or chocolate bar for the drive home can definitely add up over time and best be avoided when budgets are tight. You also run the risk of making purchases of items you already have on hand without even realizing. What is the point of buying a roll of cling wrap on “sale” when you already have two in the pantry? I have been guilty of this in the past.
Those who like to plan meals will make a menu and then shop accordingly. The best way is to plan in reverse…plan around what you already have! Future menu plans may not take into account the half a bunch of herbs or zucchini already in the vegetable crisper. Why buy extra when you already have perfectly good food on hand edging ever so closer to spoiling and reaching use by dates? You simply don’t want to waste more money by throwing away food that has spoilt before you have had a chance to use it.
When I plan, I head to my freezer first. Meat is undoubtedly the most expensive component of my grocery shop. Whilst I thought we had very little on hand, I rummaged through my freezer to find enough meat to provide 14 dinners. I was shocked as Mr. M will freely peruse the discount meat cabinet at our local supermarket and bring it home and freeze. We aim to use this all before it becomes freezer burnt and gets thrown in the rubbish.
After I make a list of meat on hand, I head to the fridge where I look at my perishable fresh ingredients. I use the more perishable items first for example herbs, berries, zucchini, lettuce and cucumbers are used first over less perishable items like potatoes, onions, cabbage and carrots. This helps my weekly shop last the week and avoid extra shopping trips.
I then make a meal plan using items I already have, look at what is handy in the pantry and shop accordingly. A little bit of effort at the start of the week will not only save you money but time also. It saves time by avoiding extra trips to the supermarket, standing at the fridge wondering what to cook, and saves time defrosting once you get home. Writing it down and keeping it visible can keep you on track and informs all members of the house. It saves being asked “What’s for Dinner” six times a day.
Meal planning is not for everyone, but it really does work. Check out my printable Meal Plan PDF with added space for shopping items. Give it a go.
Happy Cooking xx