The beginning of a new year is a good time to learn new habits that can help you be happier, healthier and wealthier.
The happiness part is up to you, of course, but maybe we can help you become healthier and wealthier. Since all the stores seem to have all of the healthy eating type food on sale right now, let’s talk about buying groceries first.
As with everything, savvy grocery shopping is easier if you have a plan, so try a meal-planning strategy before your next shopping trip.
Meal planning is a simple and effective way to save a lot of money (ahem – wealthier!) by helping you cut down on pricey fast food and take-out meals.
Preparing and serving meals at home not only reduces your grocery budget, it’s a healthy alternative to fast food (ahem – healthier!). Here are a few things to consider as you get started:
- Decide how you want to do your meal planning. Not surprisingly, people make this decision based on how often they do their shopping. If you’re just starting out, start with weekly planning until you get the hang of it.
- Make a list of your family’s favorite meals – and don’t forget to list the side dishes!
- Spaghetti and meatballs? Don’t forget the garlic bread.
- Tacos? You’ll need the cheese, sour cream and veggies – plus chips and salsa.
- Grilling steaks? Baked potatoes and salads, too.
- Some people go so far as to buy (or print out) a calendar and write each day’s meal plan on the appropriate date – if Monday is always casserole night, it really does help you keep track.
- Create your grocery list around your set meal plan. Check your pantry and freezer to make sure you don’t place duplicate items on your list if you already have them on hand. Scour your grocery store ads for sales on the items you need.
- Even better…visit www.mygrocerydeals.com to find the best sales in your area. They compare all the grocery ads for you and even offer a convenient option that lets you print coupons right from their website!
As always, having a plan is good, but even the best-laid plans need to retain a certain amount of flexibility. After all, things change – meetings run late, kids’ activities come up – so flexibility is important, too. The point is that you can save money AND help your family make healthier choices if you have a well-stocked freezer and pantry and you have the ingredients on hand to make dinner whenever you can.