Saving money is a hot topic in our household right now and one of the places that we have cut down dramatically is food costs. Whether it was dining out instead of cooking at home, buying too much of what we didn’t need and having to throw food out (ughhh) or just buying stuff we didn’t need in the house (like the bulk club crackers that are still in the cabinet), it’s so easy to overspend on food. Flexible meal planning has helped us save money without having to spend hours each week planning and prepping. Here’s how we do it.
The first thing I do is take inventory. What do we have left in the fridge that is perishable? Do we have any meats in the freezer that we could use up? What is our schedule for the week?
Next is checking the flyers for our local stores. We used to buy what we wanted, now we buy what is on sale. I buy our chicken frozen, in bulk from Costco. One six pound bag of Kirkland Chicken Tenders lasts us about a month and it is only $17.99 at our local Costco. Score. Not all things are worth being purchased in bulk but there is some great pay off if you shop for ONLY what you need. I also always purchase a large bag or two of Kale salad, 24 eggs, a large bag of asparagus (or two), Brussels sprouts, raspberries and Fage 0 yogurt. The only time I do NOT get any of these items is if they are on sale elsewhere for a better price, which is rare.
Then the planning begins.
For each meal I plan a protein source and two + carb sources, one of which is always a vegetable.
I purchase things intentionally that can be mixed and matched up as we don’t like to feel like we HAVE to have one thing for an entire week. I like to “fly by the seat of my pants”when it comes to my food choices. Following a set plan is something that just doesn’t work for me (remember when I talked about how we budget too? same thing).
Additionally, once a month we do not buy any groceries beyond fresh fruits and veggies. We “clean house”, eating out of the freezer or pantry. This way, we are ensuring that we are not waisting food and not over spending.
With these simple steps, we have cut our grocery bill in half. We spend for a family of two, for three meals and snacks every day while being avid coffee drinkers), approximately $50 – 75 a week. On our “freezer/pantry week” we spend approximately $20.
Once a month we splurge a little and get three meals from HelloFresh* (get $40 off your first order with this link). We love the variety and use cooking the meals together as at home date nights.
As you can see, eating your fruits and veggies and getting in lean proteins does not have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be time consuming.