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Food Budgets and Meal Planning 101

Learning how to create and live within a budget is a skill and sadly I find that many folks, especially in younger generations, are lacking that skill today.  I learned from my mother who, in turn, learned from my grandmother how important it was to create a budget and plan ahead each week prior to going grocery shopping.

My grandmother is the all-time master of how to save at the supermarket.  She tells me how she would visit the butcher and buy a specific cut of meat knowing how she could get three meals from it (one for a roast, one using the bone to make vegetable soup and another using the leftover meat to create a hearty stew).  She would shop for fruits and vegetables in season and grow certain varieties in her backyard during summer.  She relied heavily on canned fruits and veggies during the winter months.

While things have changed since the days when my grandmother was my age and cooking for her family, I still follow many of the budget and meal planning steps she’s passed along.

  • Check the circular: Look through the weekly circular for the supermarket(s) you frequent to see what’s on sale before you go shopping.  It’s better to know ahead of time so you won’t miss out on any good deals and that way you can add it to your grocery list …which leads me to my next point!
  • Make a list: Going to the supermarket without a list is a sure fire way to spend more money than you have to and forget to buy something you need (which means making another trip to the store and wasting gas doing so!).  Try to stick to buying only what is on your list, I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll save doing this.
  • Plan your meals for the week: I typically do this step first or right after I’ve checked the circular.  Plan out what you’ll be cooking for your family that week.  I will also take into account what my schedule looks like that week, if I’ve got any evening appointments.  That way I know if I need to plan something I can whip up quickly on a specific night or maybe that particular day I throw something into the crockpot in the morning so that it’s ready when I get home that evening.

After doing this a few weeks you’ll be really good at judging how much of certain things you’ll need to buy to get you through the week.  It’s amazing how much less waste you’ll have and how much money you’ll save by simply planning ahead and sticking to a budget.  The Fruits & Veggies–More Matters website has a terrific Healthy Meal Planning Guide and Fruits & Vegetables on a Budget section that can provide you with additional tips.  A few extra minutes a week will be well worth the results!

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  1. Great advice on saving money and reducing waste. I also find that shopping alone (without the kids) helps to cut down on additional items (not on my list) going into the cart.

  2. These are great suggestions, and ones I’ve personally been following for years. Having recipes organized and a shopping list or menu planning tool available can help greatly, too, with this process. Dish Dish provides a terrific place for accomplishing all those things in one place at www.dishdish.us.

  3. Home Economics just like PE should be mandatory classes for junior high and senior high schoolers instead of elective courses. Great article. Looking forward to the next lession.

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