Between Instagram, Facebook, and this website, I get a lot of questions on meal planning in particular. How to start a meal plan, how to budget for it, keep up with it and so on. I thought today I would answer some of the questions I get often on meal planning!
The first questions I get asked often is where do I shop? My three main places to shop are Sam’s Club, Walmart and Aldi. All three have really great perks to shopping with them. I love buying in bulk, and Sam’s Club has good prices AND Store pick up, which works well for us especially with young kids, and it stops me from wandering around the store putting things I don’t need in my cart. I like Walmart for the same reason, club pickup. I order online, and I don’t even have to go into the store, someone comes out and puts my groceries in the car for me. As an introvert especially store pickup really calls to me, because grocery shopping can be exhausting! I enjoy shopping at Aldi most of all though! The prices simply CANNOT be beat, and the quality of the products match that of name brand. I filled my cart to the brim last week, it was actually hard to push (we shop for two weeks at a time) and my bill was UNDER $200! I think that was the most I ever bought in one shot at aldi and I was still $70 under budget for the trip (the extra money is then used to buy anything else we need over the course of two weeks, or if we decide to make goodies that we need to buy extra food for, or to stock up at Sam’s). Most people will have at least a Walmart to shop at, but if you have the opportunity to try an Aldi market I highly recommend it!
The next thing I’m asked is, “How do you save money?” I’ve tried almost everything over the years. We had a six month stint of trying to be couponers back when my oldest was a baby. That was complicated and exhausting, so I don’t use coupons very often today. I had a time where my meal plan and every single thing that went into my cart had to be in that store’s advertisement flyer. This is when I worked in a grocery store and part of my job was going through our store’s flyer and then I only needed to check one other store’s flyer in order to do this successfully. This option can also be time consuming, and you use more gas in doing this, because you have to go to many stores and sit down and plan everything around what’s on sale. It does work, but it can take some extra energy to do this. I rarely look at the ads these days, unless I’m looking for something I know is a little more expensive, or if I’m not even sure what price to expect for it because it’s not something I usually buy. These days I stick to my three main stores, I know the prices to expect at each place. I set my budget for the month and I use cash to help me stick to that budget and stay on top of my spending.
The last question that always seems to pop up when I start talking about meal plans is, “how do you stick to what’s on the list.” This is where I do struggle. But my main tips are shop from home when making your list, go through the fridge, freezer, pantry, go through the bathroom and see what you need to buy there, check your cleaning supplies, go through any room that might have something you would get at a grocery store. Make a master grocery list and go through that when making your list to help you check off all the items you may need (I’ll have one for you coming soon!). If you truly just cannot seem to control your spending, see what stores have a grocery pick up in your area, even if it’s possibly a little more expensive, you may still save money by shopping their ads and by not impulse spending in a cheaper store. Bring a friend with you if you can and help each other stay on budget and only buy the things you each need. Go when you are in a little bit of a hurry, or time yourself so that the quicker you need to go through the store, the less likely you are to look around and find things you don’t need.
Do you have a question about making and sticking to a meal plan? Have a problem you always seem to run into? Feel free to ask away and I’ll be glad to help you find the answers!
Until next time friends!