Prior to our move my husband did the majority of the cooking, when he was home. My idea of making dinner was to find a recipe I liked and then go buy all of the ingredients for the meal. I can’t cook like that anymore because now I need to stay within a budget. Here are three ways that I have learned to meal plan, shop, and stay within my budget:
I. Buy items on sale. Seems simple, but if you just buy random items on sale how will they all go together? I keep a few recipes in our regular meal rotation. So , when I see item for these recipes on sale I pick them up. For example, my girls love Taco Bake. I pick up hard taco shells or ground turkey when it is on sale and save till I have the other ingredients. Same goes for spaghetti and pasta sauce. If potatoes are on sale then we will have french fries that week. The best is when you buy items on sale and get fuel points.
II. Digital coupons. How did I not know about this before? I open the app for my local grocery store and “clip” coupons. The coupons are stored on my savings card and are taken off at the register. Make sure that your savings card is scanned before the cashier hits total or your coupons will not be taken off of the total.
III. Ibotta! I am not affiliated with Ibotta, I just use the app. Saving $0.80 a trip does not sound like a lot but the savings adds up. If you build a team of shoppers you can reach reward goals and earn extra money. There are three simple steps: 1. shop, 2. log into the app, select and scan the food you purchased, 3. take a picture of your receipt. It only takes a few minutes.
I used to plan my shopping around my meal plan. I now plan my meal plan around my shopping. It is a change in mentality but it has forced me to get more creative in the kitchen and to learn more about cooking. I now see meal planning as a game. “What can I make with the items in my pantry?”