How to save money by meal planning

Meal planning in advance can be a great way to save money and it can be a lot easier than you think. There is also the added benefit of reducing your food waste, so it’s better for the environment too. It can seem difficult to know where to start, especially if you’re not used to planning your meals in advance so follow these easy tips to help get you started.

Look for recipes you enjoy!

The first thing you should do is figure out what to cook! Now, because we are planning ahead, you should make sure to have a list of recipes that you enjoy cooking, enjoy eating, and can store in advance should you choose to cook everything days prior to serving.

Where to find recipes?

Nowadays, there are so many places to source inspiration. From websites to cookbooks, there’s an endless amount of resources available to help kickstart your inner culinary genius!

Supermarkets tend to give away free magazines with meal ideas that can save you money. These are great tools because normally they highlight items on special offer and in season, allowing you to have fresh ingredients for a healthier meal and for a cheaper price.

YouTube is another huge library of knowledge. What could be easier than watching your chosen recipe being prepared in front of your eyes and simply following it step by step? Food channels are everywhere and even some of the country’s top chefs have video collections based on money saving meals to try!

The internet seems to have all the answers and that also applies to money saving meal ideas. There is a whole sector dedicated to saving you money and meal plans for all different types of lifestyles. Maybe you want a healthier lifestyle or a cheaper shop for great ingredients. There are places to meet all those needs, you may just have to search a little harder to find them.

Browsing online
woman cooking

Choosing Recipes

Now you may have a huge variety of recipes to select from but that doesn’t mean your plan is finished. You should think about what ingredients go into those recipes. Are they mainly vegetable based? Do they use the same proteins? Are they all pasta based?

Recipes that share many ingredients are great because they allow you to get more value for money when buying your ingredients. If three of your meals require carrots, it’s cheaper to buy large ones knowing that you won’t have unnecessary waste. Normally, stores will offer better value for money on larger portions or quantities.

Also knowing the shelf life of your products is important. How long would your meal last should you cook it in advance? How long does it take to cook normally?

If you believe you have a small amount of time every day to cook your meals, prepping the ingredients in advance and then cooking them on the day may be a great way to keep your meals fresh and more varied. If you do not have the time to spare, meals that can be cooked and chilled for the week would be more appropriate for your lifestyle, so that should dictate your recipe choices.

Shopping for ingredients

Don’t be afraid to shop around. We know supermarkets have different prices and where some may have great prices on fruit and veg, they may not offer the same value on their meats and fish, so do be sure to shop around and find the best prices!

The great thing about meal plans is that you should know exactly what you need and how much of it you need. This allows you to get only what you plan on using and cut out food waste. Remember – any items that have extremely long shelf lives are great to buy in larger containers because they will last longer and are normally much cheaper in the long run.

Delivery Man with groceries

Prepping your meals

You’ve got your recipes and your ingredients, now all we need to do is plan when and how.

When

What we mean here is, when will you be eating what? You have your recipes decided but you must now figure out which ones you will be eating when.

If you are planning on a different meal every day for three meals, and you have 21 recipes picked out, then perfect! At three per day, you’d have a new meal every day for the week.

But what if you like six recipes and are only planning for lunch and dinner?

Then you may want to think about the ingredients that go into each meal and pair the most diverse together. Alternatively, keep similar recipes together and simplify the cooking process by preparing these meals at the same time.

Whichever you decide, knowing when and what you are going to be eating will help with the next step.

Bag of groceries
Assorted vegetables

How

How will you be cooking your meals? Are you planning on having all your meals prepped for the week or will you prepare your ingredients to be ready for cooking on the day?

Whichever option best suits your schedule, be sure to plan ahead.

Do what you feel works

There are no set rules when meal planning and prepping; it’s all about what works best for you and your family. Whether you plan and prep all of your meals or just a few, you will soon start seeing the benefits of a reduced food shopping bill and less food waste!

mushrooms, spinach and cauliflower