How can you save money on your weekly shop and save food waste and packaging waste?
There’s no two ways about it – You gotta MEAL PLAN!
Why should you create meal plans?
Meal planning is the best way to get a shopping list together to ensure you never throw food away again. This will save you so much money.
If you are used to shopping without a list, hoping that what you buy will come together, you are likely to be buying too much. You could end up with food going off because you haven’t eaten it.
A challenge for you
Often our mentality is that our cupboards and fridge must be full at all times. But why? In case of a zombie apocalypse perhaps?!
I challenge you to change your mindset. Anything sitting unused is money that you’ve spent without receiving the benefit.
You’ll be going shopping regularly and if you stick to your meal plan you shouldn’t need anything else.
Of course plans change and there are some things you’ll want to keep such as herbs/spices, a couple of tins of beans, some pasta, some frozen slices of bread. I suggest you keep this to a minimum.
No more mouldy food
Having a meal plan means you won’t buy more than you need. You won’t have to throw away old food, wilting vegetables or mouldy pasta sauces again!
Set aside 30 minutes to do this once a week before you go shopping.
Here is your 3 point plan:
- Check, check, check….
- Cupboards for what is already in there. You don’t want to buy something you already have. Is anything nearing it’s best before date and needs using up? Maybe there is something in the cupboard you’d forgotten that you wanted to use so you can find a recipe for it this week.
- Fridge – Plan to use up all the fruit and veg that’s already in there and any other bits in the fridge that won’t last.
- Freezer – Do you have anything precooked that you can eat on a busy night when you don’t have time to cook? Check your stocks of shop bought frozen food eg burgers, chips which might come in handy if you have a busy week.
- Make the plan
This is the hardest part! Why do our minds always seems to go blank when we’re trying to think what we’ll eat throughout the week?
Tip – When you cook something that everyone likes, write it on a lolly stick and keep it in a pot. When you need to come up with ideas, look through the lolly sticks to help you. Use the sticks for inspiration!
To start your plan, think about what you’re doing each day. Work out who is cooking and how much time you will have to cook each day.
Plan to use up any of the fresh food you found in the fridge.
Did you find any tins sitting at the back of the cupboard? Why not use them up first. It will save you money this week.
Plan to batch cook on a day that you have more time so you can heat it up again another day. Also make extra for the freezer if you can.
If you’re used to buying your lunch, can you plan to eat leftovers instead? Cooking a bit extra the night before barely adds to your costs compared to shop bought lunches.
3. Make the shopping list:
To reduce your packaging waste you’ll want to buy as much as you can from your local refill shop and greengrocer if you have one near by. Anything else you can get from the supermarket.
NB if you can’t get too a greengrocer, go to a large supermarket so you can buy as much fruit and veg loose as you can.
Buying exactly you what you need from a refill shop means there is no wastage. You aren’t forced to buy a large packet of something that you won’t use that week. It saves you money that week.
This gives you 3 lists.
- Refill Shop
Add what you need for each meal to one of the lists. You can now add other regular items you use every week. Doing it this way helps you think about the exact quantities you need.
For instance, exactly how many apples does your family eat each week? Do you need to buy a pack of 6 or can you buy 4 loose apples instead. This will save food waste, packaging waste and money!
Finally, go shopping. STICK TO THE LIST!
If your fridge is empty at the end of the week, that’s a win! Then start all over again.
It’s a weekly discipline
It is a discipline to do this. It will take a few goes to understand exactly what your household eats in a week so you know how much to buy of some items. You may decide shopping on a different time or day is more convenient. Or maybe a different member of the household can do part or all of the shop. You can refine how you do it each week.
Eventually you’ll get into a routine which works for everyone.
What’s for dinner?
And the best thing is, when it gets to the middle of the week you don’t need to think about what’s for dinner – It’s already been decided!