By: Lisa Madson
I hear this fairly frequently. While I’m not denying that whole, healthy foods CAN be more expensive than eating from the dollar menu at your local fast food restaurant, or eating Ramen noodles and hamburger helper, the long term benefits far outweigh the extra cost. When you consider the cost of medical care for health related illnesses, prescription drugs and lost wages I’m a firm believer that eating healthy is worth it!!
I DO, however, want to share with you MY secret to saving money on my grocery bill and overall food budget. It really comes down to one word…well, two words actually…MEAL PLANNING!!! There’s my secret…end of blog! Just kidding. Let me tell you how that works.
First, by meal planning I save money on eating out. Before I started meal planning, we would eat out for dinner 3-4 times per week. For just my husband and I, our meal would average between $25-$50, depending on where we would eat and if we also enjoyed a beer or glass of wine with our dinner. That’s $75-$200 per week, just on dinner!!
Second, by meal planning I make 1-2 trips to the grocery store per week. Before meal planning became a part of my routine, I would stop by the grocery store to pick up dinner from the deli, or the ingredients to throw together whatever came to mind that day, almost on a daily basis (when we didn’t go out to eat). Each trip to the grocery store would average between $30-$50. That’s another $150-$250 per week.
Finally, almost daily, I would go out to eat on my lunch break at work. These daily trips would cost $8-$10 per day, averaging between $40-$50 per week. This did not include my daily stop at the coffee shop on my way to work (another $5/day).
Here’s what I do NOW that I meal plan. Once per week, I sit down with my friend Pinterest, and we find 2-3 recipes I can make for dinner throughout the week. I also choose 3-4 easy, throw together type meals (tacos, spaghetti, lean meat, grain and veggie, eggs). This gives our family variety AND simplicity. For lunches, I eat leftovers from the meal the night before. I make my coffee at home.
My weekly trip to the grocery store typically runs me around $100-$150/week (for lunches, dinners and coffee). This is a savings of…are you ready for this…$200-$400 per week…that’s $800-$1600 per month!!! Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, that would add up to a pretty nice vacation at the end of the year!!
Maybe you’re NOT a person that does this kind of stuff. Maybe you already brew your own coffee, brown bag your lunch, and rarely eat out at restaurants. Meal planning can still help you reduce the cost of your grocery bill, simply by reducing waste and minimizing trips to the grocery store. Give it a try! Need help? The coaches at 90/10 nutrition also have meal plans coming to you, in the near future, to make your life easier! Until that time, you can join our community, where you’ll get lots of encouragement, tips on how to eat healthier and also how to plan better! Meal planning…it’s worth the work!