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4 ways I used meal planning to save money every month

I used to have a very fast and loose approach to cooking. I would show up at the supermarket, and just pick up the things that grabbed my attention. I didn’t really plan my meals ahead, but rather just hoped that I could turn whatever I had on hand into something tasty.

About three years ago, I began planning my meals in advance. With working a full-time office job, I didn’t have too much time in the evenings to think about dinner.

I saved money in three main areas:

1. Reducing food waste
You will reduce the amount of fresh food that goes to waste because you didn’t cook it before it turned bad (we’ve all thrown away broccoli or a few old potatoes!).

2. Cutting back on transport costs
You will travel to the supermarket less often because you won’t need to pop out for just that one thing that is missing from the recipe.

3. Removing the temptation to impulse buy takeaway food at the last minute
You will be much less likely to grab a takeaway burger on the way home or to order in for a few pizzas. Not only is cooking for yourself cheaper, it is also a much healthier way for you and your family to eat.

Here’s how you can do it too:

Step 1: Take stock of what you have at home

Before you plan your meals, and even before you write your shopping list, take a full inventory of what you have at home. Make a list of everything you have, and write down roughly how much of it you have.

SEE: Food24’s collection of chicken dishes and recipes

Step 2: Research recipes that use the same main ingredients

Common main ingredients are beef mince, chicken portions, sausages or potatoes. Make a collection of all the recipes that appeal to you. Pinterest is a great tool for this! Group the recipes by common ingredients.

For example, you can cook this chilli con carne pasta bake on Tuesday, and then this beef moussaka on Wednesday – the common ingredients you can buy in bulk are ground beef, tomato paste, onions and garlic.

Follow Food24 on Pinterest for endless recipe inspiration.

Step 3: Research recipes that use the same cooking method

Planning will help you cook more efficiently, which means using less electricity or gas. If you are baking a cake, why not also make a batch of granola and bake them one after the other?

Roast this leg of lamb with herb butter at the same time as these Hasselback potatoes.

Bake these salted dark chocolate crinkle cookies and also these granola and cranberry buttermilk rusks while your oven is hot.

Step 4.
Make a shopping list

Never go grocery shopping without a full list of what to buy. Treat the list as “these are the only things I am going to buy” rather than a shortlist of must-buys added to the rest of the trolley.

Thinking of starting a meal planning regime? Start by signing up for our newsletter that features a weekly meal plan with 5 delicious recipes for the week ahead.

What are your tips for saving money on food? Share them below in the comments