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How to Plan Meals, Plus Save Time and Money at the Grocery Store

Planning meals and grocery shopping are definitely two of my least favorite tasks. Every. Single. Week. I have to think of ideas, then spend my Sunday morning at two grocery stores. I understand the struggle, but if I didn’t plan then it would take even longer, I wouldn’t eat the right foods, and I would probably waste a lot of money.

1. Decide what is right for you

First, figure out what type of diet you are going for. Are you planning meals to lose weight, gain muscle, just for the family? It’s important to know this so you can search for the right meals that you need. This may change every week or every month, it just depends on your lifestyle.

How to Plan Meals, Plus Save Time and Money at the Grocery Store Plan your meals

Take some time to find a variety of meals, my go to is Pinterest, but there are many recipe books, websites, or magazines with great ideas. Write down what appeals to you, but be sure to skim over the ingredients and make sure it’s all easily accessible and not too complicated. Maybe once in a while you have time to cook a 2 hour plus meal, but I’m sure you would prefer to be in the kitchen for an hour or less.

Write down 7 meals, maybe an extra, and have the ingredient lists handy. Dedicate a notebook or planner to meal planning and grocery lists, it will make your life simpler!

Check out the recipes I have on Pinterest here!

3. Make a list

Organize your grocery list by the store aisles! This may take a little getting used to, but you will eventually remember where grocery products are in each aisle. It will make your grocery run go a lot quicker by knowing exactly what you need and where to find it. Only buy the items on your list, something may look appetizing or may have a sale, but you don’t need the item for the recipes that you planned!

4. Find the right grocery store (or stores)

I prefer to shop at Kroger. The prices are fair, I enjoy the environment, and I get points for every $1 that I spend which goes toward gas savings. However, produce is sold for pretty high prices! This is where the farmers market come in! Down here in Georgia we have places like Assi, H-Mart, Nam Dae Mun, and random farmers markets at parks a couple days a month. After shopping at Kroger for everything else, I drive down the street to Assi and spend about $20 on a bunch of fruits and veggies. If I were to purchase the same amount at Kroger, it would probably cost double that. The quality is (usually) very good and they have a lot of options and variety!

Lately, I have been obsessed with Sprouts! In my opinion, it is a better “high-end” supermarket than Whole Foods, because the prices are reasonable, they have many bulk options, and the environment is pleasant. Their snacks can be pricey, but you definitely get what you pay for. I would like to one day purchase all my groceries from Sprouts!

5. Don’t waste time

Do you need to spend an extra 20 minutes in the store deciding on which frozen meals to buy? No! You should have everything planned out and ready to go. This way you avoid the unhealthy options and don’t waste money on food you may not eat. Eventually, you’ll figure out which items best fit your lifestyle, appetite, and wallet. Then grocery trips will take less and less time.

6. Be careful with coupons and “sales”

I’m sure you all have seen the show Extreme Couponing on TLC, which gave you the idea to start trying to save hundreds on groceries. However, it is not that simple. The people on the show dedicate their life to clipping coupons. Majority of us simply do not have time to do that nor want to spend 3 hours in the check out line. If you do clip coupons, try to only use the ones that you really need. Usually coupons include a dollar or two off a box of lunchables, fruit snacks, or cans of soups…many unhealthy items that won’t fit your meal planning. If you use every coupon you clip just because it is a good deal, you’ll end up spending more money and most likely eating more fat!

Also, many grocery stores have sales, like Buy 1 Get 1 Free. However, be careful because sometimes they jack the price up so you’re basically spending the same amount as before. Many grocery stores also allow you to purchase one of those items and receive 50% off instead. If you can do that, you still save the money, but you won’t end up with a whole extra package of bagels that may go bad. I use the apps IBotta and Receipt Hog to save and earn money on grocery store purchases!

7. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry

I’m sure every grocery shopping “tips” blog article says this, but it’s so true. Avoid going grocery shopping while hungry, otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of unhealthy or unnecessary items. When you’re hungry, everything looks good, and you’ll get in the “Ooh, I want that” mindset. Eat before you go, bring a snack with you, or just grab a bite to eat at the in-store Starbucks!

Do you plan meals? Comment below your favorite recipes or tips and tricks!

This blog post contains affiliate links.
If you follow those links and purchase/sign up for the product I make a small profit.
Thank you for the support!

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