I’m thrilled that February has arrived, not just because it’s my birthday month, but also because I have an exciting challenge to share that will assist you in maintaining your budget. This month, our focus will be on how to meal plan to save more money. We’re diving into the steps of creating a personalized meal plan for you and your family, to ensure that you only buy the necessary items to make that plan a success.
This challenge comes in three parts, which are detailed below, but I want to let you know that if you aren’t confident in your meal planning strategy, not to worry. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be sharing the exact strategy our family uses to meal plan, including some video tutorials and printable worksheets.
Tip: Want to be the first to know when those new resources launch? Jump on the Lemon Blessings’ Insiders List today. It’s FREE and you’ll receive even more tips and tricks to help you manage your family finances. Find it HERE.
In the meantime, let’s jump into the February 2024 Challenge about meal planning to save more money.
What is a Meal Plan?
First, we need to be completely clear about what a meal plan is. Put simply, it’s a compilation of meals that you plan to eat over a specific time period. This could involve planning meals for a week, two weeks, a month, or even an extended duration.
A meal can come in the form of a list of meals that you pick from throughout that time frame. Alternatively, you might choose to organize those meals on a calendar, so you know which meal you’ll eat and when. Both approaches are effective, but you’ll want to make sure that the option you choose accommodates the preferences and needs of your family.
Step 1: Consider Your Time Frame
Now that we’ve clarified what a meal plan is, let’s jump into this challenge of creating a meal plan to save more money. The first step involves considering the time frame you’ll choose, which is often tied to the frequency of your income. For example, if you receive weekly paychecks and live paycheck to paycheck, planning an entire month’s worth of meals and shopping for all o the items at once might be financially challenging. On the other hand, you could create a monthly meal plan and shop for the required items on a weekly basis.
Some additional factors to contemplate include:
- Your grocery shopping frequency and the likelihood of impulse purchases
- Preference for fresh produce or meat
- Bulk food buying
- Items you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry
- The desire for variety or creativity in meals
…among other considerations.
Take the time to decide what works best for you. The last thing you want to do is put the time into creating a meal plan only to realize that you dislike weekly grocery trips or are tired of the planned meals by the end of the second week.
Step #2: Choose a List or Date-Specific Plan
The next decision involves choosing between a list of meals or a date-specific plan. It’s just like it sounds, you either list the meals out and choose one as needed or you add each meal to a calendar so there’s no guessing what to pull from the freezer for dinner.
Personally, I favor using the date-specific plan. It allows my family to gather at the beginning of each month, review our scheduled activities and commitments, and then allocate meals accordingly. For instance, if we anticipate a busy night on the first Wednesday, we can plan for a simple dinner that day. This approach saves us time, reduces guesswork, and significantly decreases the likelihood of abandoning the meal plan altogether and resorting to takeout.
Both choices have their advantages, so ensure that your decision aligns with your family’s preferences and needs.
Step #3: Create the Meal Plan
The final step in this challenge is to create the meal plan itself. Write down each meal you plan to eat during the time frame you chose. Be specific. If you plan to have chicken and rice, do you also intend on serving a vegetable? By paying attention to the details now, you’ll set yourself and your budget up for success going forward.
Take the Challenge: Meal Plan to Save More Money
From this point forward, it’s up to you. Post that meal plan, create a grocery list and ONLY purchase the items you need to fulfill it. You might take it a step further and make a plan for what you’ll with the savings. Will you pay off additional debt, put it toward your emergency fund, or purchase new shoes for your kiddo? The options are endless.
Whatever you choose, I’m here to support you. You can:
- Grab my FREE Weekly Meal Planning Template HERE for additional grocery budget savings.
- Submit your budgeting and home organization questions HERE.
…or jump into the Lemon Blessings’ Membership for an insider’s look at all of my personal meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, budget worksheets, and more.
Remember, if you don’t ask for the help you need, you’ll never get it!
Cheering you on!