How can I save money by learning to meal plan?

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Answered by: Lisa, An Expert in the Save on Groceries Category
Learning to meal plan can have a massive impact on your grocery budget. By planning meals you will know exactly what you need to purchase, as well as reducing any food waste. This will help you to stick to a budget more easily.

Your first step when learning to meal plan is to establish how many meals you need to plan and how many portions you will need for each meal. For example, you may need to plan five meals and feed three people at each meal time. You can then look through your favourite recipes to decide which you would like to cook for your family. When looking at recipes, make sure that you make a note of how many people the recipes serves. Ideally you would like to try and make the exact amount of portions that you need, but if you have extra left over you can always freeze it for later.

Make a list of which meals you plan to cook and on which day. Make sure that you let your family know which meals to expect, as this should hopefully mean that you are all more likely to stick to the plan.

Once you know which meals you would like to cook, it's time to look at which ingredients you will need. Your recipe should hopefully have a list of ingredients that you'll need. You will need to calculate exactly how much of each ingredient you'll need by looking at how many people the recipes serves and adapting this accordingly to meet your needs. Start a shopping list and add each ingredient to it, along with the amount you need to buy.

You may also want to plan which snacks, drinks, etc. that you will want to eat over the next week. Add these items to your shopping list too.

Once you have completed your shopping list, your first step is to take a look in your store cupboard to see if you already have any of the items that you need. Even if you only have a few of the items in your cupboard, it will still reduce your grocery spend by a few pounds.

You can then take your shopping list with you when you do your grocery shop. Before you leave, decide on a budget that you want to stick to. Keep this in mind when shopping for ingredients, making sure that you compare different items and brands. Buying store own brand products can save you a lot! Try your best to buy only what you have listed. This will help you stick to your grocery budget.

As mentioned earlier, if you have any leftovers make sure that you freeze these for later. Plastic containers are great for this and you can use a permanent marker pen to write what the leftovers are on the lid. Once you have been meal planning for a while you will have hopefully built up a store of leftovers in your freezer. If you have a tight budget one week, you can plan to eat leftover meals from your freezer, reducing your grocery spend for the week.

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