How to Plan Ahead for Next Week’s Meals and Save Money

A Step-By-Step Guide

supermarket by fazen on Flickr!My wife and I shop for groceries on a weekly basis (with the exception of a rare mid-week stop for more milk or other pure staples). We shop from a grocery list, usually nail the sales, and focus almost entirely on buying produce. The end result is that we usually save quite a bit at the grocery store compared to what we could be spending. This has enabled us to buy higher quality foods, like hormone-free milk and free-range chicken and eggs, but it could also go to help us pay the bills.

When I tell this to people, they usually sigh and say, “Doesn’t all that planning take a lot of time?” Frankly, it doesn’t take that much time at all, and since it saves us from making multiple grocery store visits in a week, it might actually save time in the long run in addition to the money saved.

Here’s exactly how we do it.

Step 1: Get a Flyer

The most important step is to get a flyer from your grocery store – or perhaps flyers from two or three local grocery stores. There are a lot of ways to get these – in a local newspaper, in the mail, or online, for starters. I usually download the flyer from the website of the grocery stores we visit – Hy-Vee and Fareway.

Step 2: Find Sales on Fresh Ingredients

Once I have the flyers, I go through them and mark any sales on fresh ingredients that they have. For example, as I write this, I’m reviewing Hy-Vee’s ad for October 14 through October 20, and I’m noticing several things on sale: fresh zucchini for $0.89 a pound, fresh yellow squash for $0.89 a pound, sweet yellow onions for $0.99 a pound, yellow bell peppers for $0.99 a pound, tons of apple sales, ground turkey for $2.18 a pound, hormone- and antibiotic-free cageless chicken for $1.99 a pound, and so on.

I ignore the sales on most prepackaged items. We focus on buying fresh foods and staples like flour for our meals. Over the long haul, the fresh items are cheaper and healthier.

Step 3: Do Some Recipe Research

This week, I know I’ll be working with ground turkey, whole chicken, zucchini and squash, yellow bell peppers, sweet yellow onions, apples, and the other meat we have in our freezer from bulk purchases. What recipes can I find that utilize these ingredients?

I go to a recipe search engine like FoodieView and just enter combinations of the on-sale fresh ingredients that sound interesting. My first attempt was searching for “turkey, zucchini, onion” and I immediately found a turkey and zucchini meat loaf recipe from Epicurious. Searching for “yellow bell, chicken” gets me an interesting chicken bell pepper recipe (which I’ll use, but modify a bit). Chicken-apple-bacon burgers? Yum. Plus, you can easily grill sliced squash (dipped in olive oil and ground pepper) for a wonderful vegetable side dish.

These ideas provide the backbone for several meals throughout the week, so I start planning ahead.

Step 4: Create a Week-Long Meal Plan

I usually start off with my blank meal-planning worksheet and fill in the dinners first based on the above recipes. For us, breakfasts are usually quite simple and lunches usually consist of leftovers, so those columns are quite easy as well.

I usually try to make most weeknight meals pretty easy. I usually attempt one difficult recipe during the week and one on a weekend, with the others being simple. Whole chicken roasting? That’s a difficult one. Chicken-apple burgers? Easy.

We usually have homemade pizza one night a week, often Fridays. We also often have pasta one night a week, often Tuesdays (for some reason). So I’ll pencil those things in, too. We have plenty of ingredients on hand for both, so I don’t really need to shop for them – buying flour in bulk makes crust easy, and we keep tons of tomato sauce and ground beef on hand at all times.

Given all that, it’s pretty easy to fill in the rest of the squares on that meal plan. I usually only need to come up with five suppers per week and two to three lunches per week (for meals where leftovers from the night before don’t carry over). Often, these are just simple sandwiches.

Step 5: Make a Shopping List from the Meal Plan

Once the meal plan is in place, I go through and list all of the ingredients for all of the recipes I’ll make and then cross off the things we have as I find them in the cupboards or refrigerator. Most of this is very easy, but it saves us money – we don’t accidentally buy things we already have on hand.

I also check the staples – flour, milk, yeast, juice boxes, and so on – and add replenishments to the list.

Step 6: Go Grocery Shopping – And Stick to Your List

Once you have the list in place, it’s simple. Take it to the grocery store and stick to it. Don’t toss stuff that’s not on your list into the cart. Since you’ve already planned your meals, you know that you don’t need it.

Using this path will also make grocery shopping itself substantially quicker. Most of your purchases will be around the edges of the store, in the produce and meat sections. You won’t have to go up and down every aisle to find the items you need. This will shave significant time off of your shopping trip.

In the end, though, when you go home, unpack your groceries, and put that meal plan up on the fridge, you’ll find that overall it hasn’t taken you any more time than a grocery trip without planning would have taken, plus you now have a clear plan for meals for the week and you’ve saved significant money at the grocery store.

Good luck!

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  1. theresa says:

    Trent,
    Everytime I see “making lists” as a way to save money at the grocery store, it just strikes me as such a no-brainer. I grew up watching my mom clip coupons, check the flyer and make her lists. She even had it broken down so that items on her list would be in the same order as how she would encounter them in the store. I’m not that good yet, but I guess it just doesn’t occur to me how people could do it any other way!

    To those who need this advice, heed it. Meal planning and home cooking saves you tremendous amounts of money in the long run. And it’s not that hard! Making the weekly grocery list is literally a matter of 15 minutes for me.

  2. Johanna says:

    The “cageless chicken” may sound nice, but as I understand it, chickens raised for meat are typically not kept in cages anyway. (It’s hens raised for eggs that are.) If you choose to eat meat, and you want to ensure that the animals whose meat you eat have suffered less than the industry norm, it’s important to do your research on which labels are meaningful and which are not.

  3. Curt says:

    Excellent post. Sticking to the list is where I always seem to have trouble.

  4. Bryan says:

    This a great starting plan for saving on groceries at the supermarket. I would say my other number one rule when shopping at the market is NEVER go on an empty stomach. Always eat first, or just make sure you’re not really hungry. It makes sticking to the list much easier when you’re not salivating over all the prepared food (man, especially when you walk by the deli…)

  5. michelle says:

    This is pretty much what I try to do, but sometimes try to wing it and plan for a week once I get there and that doesnt go so well since I’ll forget something I need. I also try to plan meals that have a lot of similar ingredients so I wont have to buy as many things. Is that your son in the picture? So cute

  6. Erin G says:

    this is so true, and such a good post. My husband and I adopted a similar system a few years ago, and we have seen about 30% reduction in our grocery budget (although that’s admittedly creeping back up with the food costs). the key is sticking to it! :)

  7. April says:

    I’m a farmer’s market kind of gal, so I basically show up and see what they’re selling that day.

    It was sort of difficult at first, but now that we’ve been eating local and in-season for several months, it gets pretty easy to think on my feet. I also subscribe to a lot of cooking blogs that use in-season ingredients, which provide good ideas. Usually I’m going in reverse, though, buying something and figuring out what to do with it when I get home. When you keep the staples on hand, it’s pretty easy to do.

    Our trip to the actual grocery store takes hardly any time at all, which is great because I’d prefer to spend more time in a farmer’s market anyway. I just like the atmosphere more.

  8. Caleb Nelson says:

    I published a blog just today about how much money I saved by not eating out. I am working on a blog for next week regarding healthier grocery shopping. I will definitely be referencing this article. I think that this is a genius way of (1) saving money grocery shopping and (2) eating healthier.

    Caleb
    http://www.mefinanciallyfree.blogspot.com

  9. Paul says:

    I second the idea of never, ever, going into a grocery store/farmer’s market on an empty stomach. That is our family’s number one rule.

  10. April says:

    @Paul–Unless your market has fabulous breakfast tacos, and you purposefully wait to eat breakfast there!

  11. Steve C says:

    This is a very good start, and good advice. The next step, and big step change in savings is to move your planning and shopping to a two week period. In other words do your “major” shopping trip once every two weeks. We will do a “minor” shop of fruits and veggies only every week. This requires more planning, but we found the savings to be significant. Why? First, we found that more meal planning led to more savings. Second, less trips to the store also led to more savings. Less trips equal less impulse purchases. Finally, we had incentive to load up on sale items. I would love to go into more detail, but can assure you we experienced a step change in savings.

  12. sir jorge says:

    this is great, i do it each week and save a ton. I kid you not, sticking too it is tough.

  13. Trevor says:

    I’m sure there is a good reason that you buy juice boxes. I personally feel that individually packaged servings of anything are a money waster, but would be interested to hear why you buy them.

  14. Joe says:

    Instead of juice boxes, we have bought tummy ticklers (www.tummytickler.com) and re-used the bottles. The kids love the character toppers and the bottles are very spill proof. Our oldest is almost four and he still drinks out of them when playing outside. He uses a regular cup for meals. They are a little spendy at first, but we use them all the time. I think they cost around $5-6 for three bottles of juice. We found ours at our local Wal-mart.

  15. Kim says:

    This has been exactly our method for years. It’s actually less brain strain to make a weekly menu based on the flyer specials – someone else has done 1/2 the work for you!

  16. Niki says:

    Great post! I need to get back into planning meals ahead of time – thank you for the reminder! I agree on the not going shopping when you’re starving, but I cannot go when I’m full either – I walk out of the store without buying anything! What works best for me is being slightly hungry, but not famished. :)

  17. sara says:

    Great advice! I do these things, and spend an average of $30 a week for all my groceries for hubbs and I. Meal planning has been the biggest money saver for me, so that I end up buying what we need for specific things I’m going to cook, rather than trying to figure it out in the aisle…

  18. Maha says:

    It’s funny to see perspectives on what’s easy or more time consuming to make. Whole chicken roasting difficult? To me that’s an easy one. Check out recipezaar for ideas.

  19. caryn verell says:

    i (the wife) usually do the grocery shopping in our family….i always take and use the list. when we do run out of something…i send the husband and he does very well with just getting what he is sent for. we generallly shop every one to two weeks and have a large trip once every four months for the meat/freezer stuff from the commissary. we very rarely buy from the center isles unless we need beans, pasta, or crackers. most leftovers get packaged for the freezer and every now and then we have a smorgasbord weekend.

  20. Jennifer says:

    This is a really good guide. I too always check out the fresh produce sales first. It seems easier to plan my menu this way.

  21. APL says:

    This sounds exactly like what I’ve been doing ever since I left my crazy-work-hours job for a more reasonable work-life balance job. In fact, I justified part of the paycut by swearing that I would cook more at home (we used to order out multiple times a week, and I used to buy lunch every day). Now, I cook dinner every weeknight and once on the weekend, and I take in leftovers for lunch every weekday.

    The only thing I didn’t know, Trent, was that handy-dandy recipe website where you can just plug in ingredients. I will definitely be using that this coming week!

  22. SP says:

    This is a good article, and what I strive to do when I’m not extermely busy. The most time consuming part seems to be finding new recipes that go with the sale ingrediants.

    When I’m extremely busy, I focus on a few standard meals and eat the same thing over and over for weeks at a time, buying the same things each grocery trip… but I don’t have a family that might whine about that! I use cheap meals to begin with, so even if the fresh stuff I use isn’t on sale, it isn’t too bad cost wise. It isn’t as fun, but it gets the job done when time is limited.

  23. kelly says:

    this is a good article, my boyfriend and i are starting to put more of this to work as we expand our cooking capabilities. However, I must say i’m VERY jealous of your grocery prices. We live in DC and could typically only get some of the everyday prices listed for fareway if there is a huge sale, and we have never seen ground beef for sale…….the cheapest we have ever bought it was $4 for a pound.

  24. cv says:

    One thing to watch out for is how complicated the new recipes are. If you’re working from a new recipe based mainly around sale ingredients but it calls for two spices you don’t have, a new oil or vinegar, half a cup of pomegranate molasses, and a quarter package of panko bread crumbs, it won’t save you any money. Liberally substituting ingredients is important, as is having several recipes that can stand up to wide variations – burritos, stews, salads, etc. This definitely gets easier with practice.

    If you’re not careful, using new recipes all the time is how you end up with all those half-used up bottles and jars in the back of the cupboard or on the fridge door that you wonder why you bought in the first place and have to toss when the expiration date passes. It’s also why some people who rarely cook think that it’s cheaper to eat out all the time.

  25. Frugal Gail says:

    I used to use your method, but now I have found something even better during the growing season. Buy a farm share from a local farmer. It’s called “Community Supported Agriculture” or CSA. You get all the produce you need for the week at an incredibly low price. It’s far cheaper than a farmer’s market because you have agreed to pay for a whole season’s worth of food. Think of it as a volume discount. My farm share in Western New York gives me 25 weeks of produce (veggies, herbs, and some fruits) for $500 (it’s a double share), which comes out to $20 per week. It is more than enough to feed my family of four and still have a ton of food leftover to freeze each week for use during the winter. I only have to supplement with a few things from the grocery store. Most CSA farms are organic and since it is local, it’s a good environmental move. It is the freshest possible food, so it has the highest nutrient content. It also helps your local economy by keeping your dollars in your community. Some CSA farms require you to pick up your food at the farm, while others have drop off locations in nearby towns and cities. Some CSA farms also have organic meat and dairy products or additional fruit shares. You don’t get much choice, if any, of what foods you get. You get whatever the farmer grows. The farm I use also provides me with a weekly printed newsletter and recipes. That info can be viewed by anyone on their website as well. This is just one example of a CSA – http://www.promisedlandcsa.com They are all over the country. It is a wonderful way to cut your food bill!

  26. Ryan McLean says:

    So many great tips for saving money on here. I would love to hear some tips on how to make more money

  27. Carmen says:

    We do this too, except with cook books/online offers instead of flyers. Have more than halved our food spending since starting this in the New Year, despite rising food prices.

    However, unless money is extremely tight, I think it is a good idea to deviate off the list for regular staples that are on offer – fresh coffee, toilet rolls, catfood etc, since this also saves money in the long run. It is fool hardy not to buy cereal that you technically don’t need until next week if it is on half price or 3-for-2 this week. I do actually budget for doing this outside of our weekly grocery spend by splitting our monthly budget into five equal amounts – roughly 4 weeks in the month plus an extra chunk for emergency milk runs/’impulse’ staples purchases.

    And before anyone mentions the fact that only one month in the year actually has 4 weeks in it, it doesn’t matter enough to upset the apple cart on my spreadsheet! :)

  28. Lady Jane says:

    Trent, I’m thrown by the assumption that roast chicken is hard. It is dead easy and the left overs make it much better value than buying chicken joints or meat. Roast chicken is easily my favourite thing to make and eat (sometimes straight from the pan). Take your bird, stick a lemon in its interior, rub its breast with butter or oil, salt it and cook it in a hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on size) then at a moderate oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Write a post while you wait or sit by the oven, salivating.

  29. Jenzer says:

    Regarding those half-full bottles of condiments … recently I’ve been working on eliminating “condiment waste” by working my menus to make sure they get consumed. I’ll make a double or triple batch of a dish that calls for a seldom-used condiment and freeze part of it for later, or I’ll plan on making two or three different dishes within six weeks that use the ingredient in question. This works well for us with items like chili sauce, hoisin sauce, and liquid marinades.

  30. Emily says:

    Hi Trent – I have been reading your blog for ages but never commented before (Long time listener, first time caller?)

    My boyfriend and I (mostly I, as I am in charge of food) do pretty much the same thing as far as grocery shopping & meal planning… we purchase staples such as pasta, potatoes, rice, and flour in bulk and then I plan meals based on meat that we have in the freezer and what is on sale. I try to include seafood once a week (bonus: seafood dishes are usually quick to prepare) and plan meals so that a more complicated meal is surrounded by simpler ones (so I can prep the night before and catch up on dishes/relax the night after).

    Once every month or so (when the weather is decent and the weekend isn’t too busy) We make a trip to the farmer’s market. We go around 12:30 or 1 and have lunch at the chipwagon, and by the time we are done usually the vendors are getting ready to pack up and things are being sold for cheaper. We have a great time and get a better deal! I’m not sure I’d be up for it with kids in tow, but going to the market is a really pleasurable routine for us.

  31. Deidre Ross says:

    Great article! I happened to read it as I was making my own shopping list. I shop for our groceries weekly as well. My menu plan takes about fifteen minutes a week to put together. I just use a sheet of notebook paper turned sideways with seven short columns that go about halfway down the page, excluding the header section of the paper from these columns. Each column is labeled with the day, and I write out our menus for each meal on that day. Underneath each column I write the ingredients that I need to buy to complete each meal. Since the header is empty, I use that section to list all of the non-food items I need to buy. Armed with this and a set amount of cash, I am good to go.

    I save an average of $50-$75 a week of my budgeted grocery cash this way, leaving me free to purchase convenience foods or to transfer over to my personal spending money if I wish. When I don’t follow my list or if I forget to take cash and use my debit card instead, I end up spending the entire budget plus some!

  32. Dawn says:

    To save time on the staples, I have a pre-printed list that has things like toilet paper, paper towels, milk, eggs in two categories–food and non-food. I put it on the fridge at the beginning of the week and as things come up missing or empty, I check them off. Then, I just add that list to my weekly list and grab any coupons.

  33. Rebeckah says:

    This was a very helpful article. Thank you : )!

  34. Gilora says:

    With respect to juice boxes and other single-serve “kiddie” items — I also thought I’d never buy them as they are so expensive. Now I send my oldest to school in the morning and I am required to send him in with a snack and a drink. I use juice boxes for the snack because they are easy and relatively spill-proof. Plus, my oldest is four and containers, if they come back at all, usually leak all over whatever else is in his backpack. I’ve also found that individually-wrapped cheese sticks are a great convenience for healthy snacks as well. For things like crackers and goldfish, I buy big bags and re-package them in sandwich baggies for individual snacks.

  35. Kevin says:

    Good article – our problem is during the week we tend to get busy and by the time both of us get home and start to cook dinner it’s 5:30 or so and our son is already getting hungry. So sometimes we deviate from the plan and find something “quick” to make like breakfast for dinner – pancakes, eggs, or whatever we have.

    I guess we just need to plan out or “quick meals” better for those nights we both work.

  36. Darlene says:

    GREAT article! Another kid lunch trick – I just bought my son a metal THERMOS brand small lunch thermos. $14 at Target – GASP! However, hot lunches at Kindergarten cost $4 – so within the week it paid for itself. A kid can’t live on PB&J alone (although this one would give it a try). I have to heat the thermos up with hot water. As the water is boiling, I get out the leftovers. Next, I pour the hot water into the thermos and seal it. Then I heat up the leftovers, dump the hot water and replace with a hot meal. Once you get the routine down, it takes less than 5 minutes in the morning to assure a nice hot lunch. Next year I will have to do this for two thermos (thermi?) and I will have to grouse AGAIN for having to buy a $14 kids thermos! LOL

  37. Moneyblogga says:

    Great post. I’ve been trying to come up with a 100% workable grocery plan for a year now and I’m still coming up short. I’m going to print and use your meal planning worksheet! Deep down inside of me, there’s a fear of empty pantries …. it’s a genuine fear and I’m struggling to work with it. This is why my grocery bill spirals out of control every month. I may have to see a psychotherapist about this one but, like everything else that went screwy, it’s a left-over demon from childhood days in which we sometimes went 2-3 days a week with bare cupboards and fridge. The sight of my food pantry dwindling down makes me freak out.

  38. That’s basically how I do my grocery shopping too…I buy the cheap stuff and plan around that and what I have in my pantry.

    Ryan-making more money is good, but saving money is sometimes more effective. You have to earn $1.50 to take home $1, so saving $50 on your groceries is actually like taking home $75. If you do enough stuff like that, the savings are significant.

  39. doctor S says:

    This is a great method to eating during the week. It is all about researching, preparing, and cooking up everything on that Sunday night before! I am lucky b/c I still live at home however, we do get busy and get it all ready Sunday night for the upcoming week.

  40. Marcia says:

    This was a really good post, and is similar to what I do.

    During the 10-month CSA season, I do it a little differently. I plan my meals around what fruits and veggies we got from the farm FIRST. (Example: we got lima beans – never had them before – so I found a recipe & need to add an ingredient to the shopping list). Then I see what produce is on sale (I usually need to buy 5-10 lbs more for our family of three).

    Then I pencil in my meal plans. I usually have a fair bit of leftovers (2-3 nights), and one “easy” night (pasta, grilled cheese) because sometimes the leftovers last longer than I am expecting.

    I also second (third?) the idea of making substitutions based on what you have. This is where you need practice practice on figuring out what will work.

  41. michael bash says:

    Take all the listing and planning and coupons as givens. But the Law of Laws is simple … don’t go shopping when you’re hungry.

  42. Linda says:

    @Moneyblogga – Thanks for your honesty. Does bulk buying of paper goods or other non-food items help? Also, I use the big glass airtight jars with rubber gasket lids for my staples like flour, sugar, pastas and rices. The sight of those filled containers makes me much less anxious whenever the media yells about inclement weather. If you stock up on canned goods that you like when on sale, that could keep the shelves filled. Make sure there is at least 6 mos. before expir date. I like diced tomatoes, pasta sauces and coffee. Sometimes they’ll have great sales on the specially packaged milk that you can keep in the cupboard, too. Peanut butter and jelly are good. If you can make yeasted or flat breads yourself, it would be hard to ever go hungry.

  43. Louise says:

    Another way of taking advantage of fresh foods on sale is to cook or prepare in bulk. I have a freezer and this makes it a snap. For instance, you could prepare half a dozen turkey zuchinni meatloaves, cook one and freeze the other five and have them once a week for the next five weeks. Do the same with the chicken burgers. When ground beef is on sale, make bolognaise sauce in bulk, enough for at least 6 meals. Less preparation time and a great way to plan ahead for busy week nights. Just take it out of the freezer in the morning and cook in the evening. I love doing this also because it stops me buying takeaway and means there is always food ready for unexpected visitors.

    For instance right now my freezer contains lentil and barley soup, thai green chicken curry, chicken and vegetable soup,indian cauliflower and chickpea curry, cooked brown rice, homemade baked beans, black bean chillie, pea and ham soup, osso bucco, bolognaise sauce, all in single serve containers. Who needs takeaway with an assortment like that? Because there are only two of us in the house, I hate making just two or three serves of any soup, curry etc that takes long cooking time. Instead I tend to make anywhere from 8-12 serves at a time. Also as I am gluten intolerant, I don’t eat sandwiches for lunch. Instead I just take something out of the freezer the night before, leave it to thaw in the fridge and just reheat for lunch.

    I personally have found a freezer to be a fantastic time and money saving idea, and this is just for two people. I can only imagine the savings for a family.

  44. Susan says:

    I agree. You gotta have a plan. If not you waste so MUCH FOOD! I would also add, be careful if you buy in bulk you need to make sure your storage is good. Mason jars, vacuum sealer what have you. I don’t like to go too far into the future. I feel like I lose control of what I actually have. I’d rather my fridge and freezer be a tad bare and that I have a good assortment of non perishable items. I have to say one of the easiest things to do is to roast. Very easy, doesn’t have to be complicated and you can spin your meals off of that. For exp. A roasted chicken = a roasted chicken dinner, then chicken soup another night, and Chicken club sandwiches another night and maybe the scraps left on the bones go in the freezer for a nice chicken and wild rice soup next week. Great post.

  45. Treva says:

    Another method for weekly meal planning is to shop your pantry/freezer. If you’ve been shopping loss-leaders on meats, frozen vegetables, and staple items, you can usually get a pretty good idea where to start using what you have. Your shopping list is then based on what you need to round out that menu plan AND purchasing other loss leaders. The loss leaders for the week might not be on your weekly menu, but you can freeze it or store it for the following week or whenever you plan to use it.

    I’ve noticed grocery stores tend to have “sales” on expensive cuts of meat that my family simply cannot afford; we tend to buy ground beef and turkey, salmon, whole chicken or chicken breasts, pork chops and, from time to time, kielbasa and bacon. If shopped strickly “sales” I’d have to buy cuts of meat that are $6/lb. The things I buy you usually only get one or two of those on sale every week. But if I find a true sale on something we use, I stock up for the weeks ahead when there will be no sale. For example, I recently bought individually frozen, skinless salmon fillets for $3.50/bag (1lb.). I bought 4 bags (the max allowed by the store and my freezer space) and that will last us about 8 meals. Since I know we eat salmon about once each week, this is about a 2 month supply.

    Another method is to build a 2 or 3 month database of recipes you know you and your family will love. Just save your weekly meal plans and make sure to cross out any recipes you didn’t like. By the end you’ll know how much of each item you need for the main course and can build sides around seasonal produce. Let’s say you’ve got an 8-week supply of dinner ideas and you’ll be eating ground beef every week. (For easy math we’ll say 1lb. of ground beef every week.) Next time ground beef is on sale, buy 8 pounds and freeze in 1lb. packages. If you’re not repeating yourself on the 8-week (or 12 week, which is what I have) supply of dinner ideas, you won’t get bored, I promise you.

  46. Suzie says:

    In America, do supermarkets deliver? Because a lot fo the major British ones do and that’s a really easy way to make sure you don’t impulse buy! The delivery charge is about £4 on the one we use, but the savings on time, petrol and impulse buys are worth it, and it’s so convenient.

  47. Hey Trent- love your ideas! It really does pay to plan. I like to “perimeter shop”. Basically, I walk into the market at the door closest to the produce and make a big counterclockwise circle! Produce usually yields markdowns on veggies,salads, fruit and pricey juices. Then it’s on to the deli for reductions on fresh meat, cheeses, bread and desserts (I buy whole cakes and pies for $2 and cut into serving size pieces and freeze). Next stop is fresh fish and meat, eggs, pastas, and dairy. It’s amazing to step out of the store with fresh, expensive items for a quarter of the price, simply by looking for markdowns! Kudos to you and your family Trent!

  48. Leah says:

    I’m also a big fan of the farmer’s markets and the pick your own places (we have a large garden too). As fruits and vegetables come into season, we estimate how much we’ll need to last an entire year and get it all fresh and local. We then freeze, can, or dry it all. The amount of money we save is unbelievable. And there’s nothing like entering the winter season with a pantry and freezer full of delicious, local, healthy foods. It’s a win-win.

  49. Michele says:

    Thanks for the great money-saving ideas! I especially love step #6! Sticking to shopping lists is a hard one for me… once I get to the store it always seems like the not-on-sale-food looks so much better ;)… Thanks too for mentioning FoodieView! We are so pleased that you find the site to be a useful resource. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about the site, please do not hesitate to contact me! Take care- Michele

  50. Kara says:

    This is a great meal planning guide! I will have to use several of these ideas in the future. Do you have a standard shopping list that you refer to in addition to the items you select that are on sale?

  51. Courtney says:

    If you’ve a wee bit of time handy, you can really stretch that grocery budget:

    http://www.stretcher.com/stories/05/05mar14c.cfm

  52. Wendy says:

    Another idea is avoid the checkout with the candy display. It’s not my kids I am worried about grabbing the candy… its me.

  53. Brigitte says:

    Do you have any suggestions about what to do when the person planning and cooking has medical issues that mean an awful lot of unpredictability? I can’t always guarantee I’ll have enough energy to cook 2 hours from now, let alone know which days this week–if any–will be good for cooking versus a quick microwaveable something. And even if I have the energy to cook it, whether my appetite will allow me to eat it! Nothing is more frustrating than cooking an amazing, time-consuming dinner and then staring at your plate wishing you could just throw it all away. I can’t tell you the number of times I have made something in the crock pot and not been able to eat it when I got home. Or choked it down because it was the only thing to eat.

    I go shopping twice a week now and have my budget down to $20 or so a week. Granted, I’m only feeding myself, but at least I have a better idea of what I want to eat and have energy to cook that night. Although I’ve found myself having to choose between shopping or cooking–without the energy for both.

    I wish I has the luxury of buying processed food. It all has too much stuff that makes me sick to eat.

  54. Fawn says:

    We like to have chicken quesadillas and chicken enchelladas in the same week. That way we can use up the sour cream and tortillas before they go bad. And I can cook extra chicken and shred it all at once!(we don’t usually use those things and forget we have them.)

    Great post!! :D

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