I have gotten several emails in the last few weeks about meal planning, so I thought I'd organize all the meal planning posts and put them in one place
There is no doubt in my mind that planning your meals ahead saves money. Even if you buy everything at the store at the last minute instead of planning ahead, you will spend more money. I find that if I just go to the store without a list/plan, I will spend about $40-50. I don't know why that is- I guess I see things I know we'd like to have, or items I'm pretty sure we need, but doing this a few times KILLS my grocery budget. I have recently increased my budget to $300/ every two weeks, and I have to WORK to keep my spending to $150/week. I include all of my toiletries and paper goods in that budget as well. (Or, as I call it, the "Target stuff")
Another benefit of meal planning is avoiding that awful feeling that occurs when it's dinner time, and you're floundering around trying to make something. Read this post: Menu Making a.k.a. Avoiding the 5:00 Panic for more on the basics of making a menu plan. Also, you can get a look at how totally unorganized my recipe folder is, which will likely make you feel better about yourself!
Here's two posts that actually gives you menus with recipes for a week! Meal Planning Made Easy- A Week of Meals and A Week of Meals
Initially, I was budgeting $250/every two weeks, and I found that nearly impossible to stick with. By adding $50, I found I could keep a few of the extras I really enjoy, and that is important to me. I don't want to constantly feel deprived. Here is a post on sticking to your grocery budget: Grocery Budgeting Tips
So, there it is!! I would love to hear from some of you- what is your grocery budget? How do you save money? What are some budget meals you rely on?