There’s a lot of big picture stuff in personal finance writing.
How to get yourself out of debt. How to structure your retirement savings.
So maybe it’s time for a look at the nitty gritty. After all, it’s the little changes that end up making big advances. So, let’s start the revolution with the oft-cited silver bullet of planning meals.
Is it worthwhile, and how will it save us money?
I used to hate the idea of a meal for each day. You know, the ‘Spagetti Bolognese on Mondays, Stirfry Tuesdays’ world. It seemed to me to lack imagination, or interest in food. Then I grew up and had to start cooking for myself. The most exhausting part of the whole process? Thinking of something to cook every day. It’s relentless, and I don’t even have children.
So, I think schedules are a good thing. If you can change the roster once a month, and introduce different meals for each day, you’re onto a winner. This will save you money in a lot of ways. Read on.
Plan Some Frugality
If you plan your meals, chances are you’ll have a fairly good indication of how much money you’re likely to spend over the coming month, making your budget very realistic. If you’re going to be having a month where money is tight, you can plan ahead and schedule cheap and filling meals so you don’t get caught out later on.
Buy in Bulk
You’ll save in bulk too. You have at your disposal a list of all the major ingredients you will need over the coming month. That means you can buy ingredients in bulk, and spend time shopping around for bargains. Sit down and work out how much of each ingredient you’re likely to need. You’ll be saving dollars off every meal already.
One of the greatest thing about planned meals is it takes the Just-In-Case element out of life. You know exactly what you’re going to be eating over the coming month and that’s reflected in your grocery list. There’s no need to grab extras or coast the aisles to see if anything grabs your fancy.
Planning your meals means that you can buy exactly what you need, and nothing else.
If you plan your meals with foresight, you can also eliminate the need to buy lunch every day. Choose meals that usually have some leftovers and eat them for lunch as well. Shepard’s Pie is a great example of a great meal that usually has leftovers. The amount we spend on takeaway lunch every week could make a huge difference if we saved it instead.
Planning meals is never watertight. If you feel like cooking something special, then you have the opportunity to bust out of the plan. Or you can schedule a Fend For Yourself night each week. This means that everyone in the house cooks themselves dinner, and uses up whatever ingredients are left over from that week of cooking.
It’s a great way to use up excess ingredients and to give yourself a night off. And if your kids end up eating eggs on toast that night, it’ll teach them delicious meals don’t grow on trees. And that lesson is worth all the money in the world.