5 Meal Planning Mistakes That Are Costing You Money
Other than not having enough time to prepare, one of the biggest excuses people have for not eating well is that healthy food is more expensive.
Meal planning is a great way to make eating healthier easier and less expensive. By making a plan and sticking to it, there will be much less snacking and junk food eating. Did you know that healthier food nourishes your body so you don’t crave as much junk food as you would if you ate less healthy?
However, throwing away food you don’t eat or use can cost you more! If you’re not careful, it’s easy to make mistakes in your meal planning and these can actually make it MORE expensive.
Whether you’re a complete newbie or you’re just struggling to find a rhythm, make sure to keep these meal planning mistakes in mind to avoid any missteps.
You Can’t Think of Any Recipes Or You Have Too Many
You may not be the best chef, or you might be a picky eater, or you just don’t know what to make. C’mon now – If you’re familiar with Facebook or Pinterest, I don’t know how you could actually say you don’t know what to make! lol
There are a ton of recipe options out there! But, sometimes they can be too overwhelming. You might want to eat Chicken Noodle Soup, but, there are 200 recipes for it! Each one more complicated than the last.
Having no recipe in mind or having too many will result in impulse buys – a major meal planning mistakes issue. If you have too many items on your grocery list, you might end up not using them all, resulting in spoilage and wasting money. How many half tomatoes or onions have you thrown away in your life? I know I have thrown away WAY too many!
Speaking of spoilage… here’s how I recycle my scraps: DIY Vermicomposting With A Worm Bin!
Narrow down your choices. Find the best recipes that best fits your family’s needs. Maybe let family members help you choose. You can also choose to have theme nights: Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, Leftover Wednesday, etc.
Create a recipe library that suits your needs. so you won’t have to scroll through Pinterest, looking for the best recipes every day.
Racing Against The Clock
You might spent several hours planning your meals for the entire week or the entire month which leaves you no time to shop for and prep them.
The next thing you know, it’s already late at night and you are at the store, looking for ingredients. If that’s not discouraging and enough to make you give up, I don’t know what is.
It is easy to underestimate the time that it takes to prepare your meal plan. You need to allot more than 10 minutes to think about your food the entire week or month.
Prevent any unnecessary stress by using of your weekend to pre-chop veggies and set up reminders of what to do throughout the week to make preparing each meal go more smoothly. This may cost you an hour or two, but, preparing for the week or month ahead will save you a ton of time, headaches, and of course meal planning mistakes.
While you’re preparing the ingredients take stock of what you’re running low on and add it to the shopping list – that will save you time when it comes to making your shopping list. I use my phone or my Google Home or Alexa for my shopping list. each time I see that something is running low I just say “Ok, Google add onions to the shopping list” or whatever else I need. That way no matter who winds up going to the store, they can access the list and it’s all there! It works great, for us. I never have to sit down and make a shopping list.
You might also like: How To Save More Money On Groceries!
Improper Food Storage
If your food is going bad before you can eat it, you need to take a closer look at your fridge. Either you’re buying too much, too soon, or it’s being stored improperly.
Once the bananas are brown or the avocados turn a bit mushy, our natural reaction is to trash them.
These overripe fruits are a great addition to baked goods or smoothies! If you don’t plan to eat them right away, peel and store them in an airtight container, and freeze them until you’re ready.
Did you know there are tons of Groceries You Can Freeze?
When you don’t plan to eat chicken, meat or fish within the next few days, freeze them as soon as you get home from the store.
Slice, put in bags, and freeze your vegetables too. For wilted lettuce or soft veggies, you can add them to stir-fry vegetables or soup.
You might also like: 8 Fruits & Vegetables You Can Freeze!
Make sure that you store the eggs and the milk on the bottom shelf of your fridge, which is the coolest part. Making sure you store your groceries properly and in the right place will ensure they stay fresher longer.
Choosing Organic And Name Brands Only
We can find almost anything in the organic aisle these days.
Studies show that organic produce has slightly more nutrients than the conventional ones, (provided they are truly organic..) but, that doesn’t mean that you should skip products that aren’t organic, especially if you can’t afford the organic variety.
Same goes with name brands. Name brands are not always better. Flip the package over and you will find that the ingredients are exactly the same as the name brands — and they cost a few bucks less. Many times brands have a less expensive, but, identical product on the same shelves and we don’t realize it and purchase the name brand costing us more money. Do your research.
Go with the cheapest option and use the money you save for other ingredients.
Ignoring Your Calendar
You dutifully planned, shopped, and prepared for your meals for the entire week.
However, you remembered that you have a work dinner on Tuesday, an appointment on Wednesday, and a party to attend on Thursday.
That means you have three days worth of food you won’t be able to eat. That means now you have 3 days worth of wasted food… Take action quickly and freeze or cook up what you need to and use it another time.
Before you begin your meal planning, check your calendar. Factor in the days you won’t be home, or someone will be skipping dinner. That way you can make sure to only spend money on what you actually need.
You might also like: 9 Ways To Reduce Food Waste! Save Money And Help The Environment!
You might make several attempts and a few mistakes before you achieve success in meal planning. Don’t forget the idea is to take away stress and make things less expensive, not to add stress and cost more… lol Give yourself a break where you need to and don’t make it too hard – hey a night where Dad cooks or the kids help can be a great bonding experience and give you a night off!
Once you work it all out, you’ll be happy you did and you’ll see how much more time you have, and money you can save, and family time you’ve added at the dinner table eating a healthy meal together.
Check out our —> Free Monthly Meal Planner printable <— you can use to get started!