Who spends more money at the grocery store without a shopping list? Anyone?
Or if I don’t spend a lot, I will probably have to go back two more times that week. Then ultimately, it costs more. (Especially if I go to Trader Joe’s for dried natural mangoes…I’m not going to tell you how many I can consume).
The more times I’m at the store = the more times I buy things I wasn’t planning on.
So less store visits = more money in my pocket.
Total side-note…has anyone else ever put themselves in “No Shopping at Target” timeout for this reason? No…just me?
(***If you feel like you have meal planning under control, skip to Does Eating Vegan Cost More.***)
Some weeks I can live on the past week’s leftovers, but this is not one of those weeks. We only have Cheerios for cereal in the house (I’ve been informed they’re getting boring) and I am 100% out of apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, garlic, and Dave’s Killer Bread.
So over a bowl of homemade granola (which I keep in the house on a regular basis), with blueberries (thawed from the freezer), and a sliced up banana, I made my menu.
And I was having so much fun that I decided to try 2 weeks. There will most likely be a fresh food run next week, but that’s ok. I’m typically a once-a-week grocery shopper for the bulk of things, so we’ll see how this goes.
Ok, before you’re all like “I should plan 2 weeks” or “I can’t even shop for 1 week” or “I’m not a planner” etc, etc. Go into this knowing it takes a little time, you got this! Remembering at the same time that it will save you money. I’m an experimenter by nature, so I love to look through my cookbooks (my own or from the library) and make my meal plan. If you have some tried and true favorites, then this is going to go much quicker for you.
To start, list 7 dinner meals that you want to make. After you write down each one, check the ingredients and list what you need. I find it easier to do this as I go along. Keep in mind that this won’t be very possible with 1/2 hour notice of shopping. Plan ahead so you’re not scrambling as you go out the door. Remember…more money in your pocket. Also, children aren’t very patient with meal planning in the grocery store parking lot….I’ve tried it.
If you need lunch and breakfast variety, then plan for those as well.
Planning 7 meals will give you a couple days buffer. You probably really have at least one leftover day and one day of making something random and last-minute.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes gearing up for meal planning feels like quite a chore. But as I get into it, I get excited to make some good food. I know not all of you love cooking. If that’s the case, hopefully the pull of saving money and having a plan will spur you enough to write it out.
Once I had a grocer comment, “Wow, I thought it would be way more than that!” That my friends, is what we’re going for. If we buy fresh and cook homemade, it’s going to save our budgets and impress total strangers. (Okay, I guess we don’t need to impress anyone, but the compliment felt good!)
Below is my scrambled menu for the next 2 weeks. Just in case you were interested. I think it’s fun to save them as ideas for future meals. Maybe sometime I’ll show you my collection of chicken scratch meal plans.
How about less?
I get asked this question a lot. I meal plan the same as I did before, I make complete meals as I did before.
The difference is just ingredients. There’s a plethora of recipes out there that I enjoy and constantly find, like I said above, I love to experiment. This hasn’t changed.
So what is the difference?
I don’t buy cheese or meat. Both of those can add up. But on top of that, I also don’t buy granola bars, fruit snacks, fishy cracker, mac and cheese, or any other pre-made meals of any kind (cut out the processed stuff as much as possible). I still keep on hand: eggs, butter, and 1% milk for my kids. If I have children with me at the store, they are really excited because I let them choose ONE yogurt out each as a treat. Our house is 90% vegan purely for the sake of being healthier.
Total success when my 5-year-old said yesterday, “Mom, can I have that salad with cucumbers and tomatoes for lunch?”
Yes, yes you can…as I fist pump in the air!
With my cooking, looking at different kinds of recipes totally opened up a whole new genre of cooking. Because of this I sometimes buy things I wouldn’t have before or as much as before, like tahini, so much peanut butter, beans, quinoa, lentils, almond meal, flax seeds, chia seeds, oatmeal, and tons of fruits and veggies. You could very well be buying these things without eating like us, just that we mainly consume these things and need way more of them.
So if you’re looking to save money, I would first recommend cutting out processed foods. If you want to eat paleo, just gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, etc, etc…I think it can all equal about the same – so long as you menu plan. Make it your night activity…or even better, your breakfast one!
If you have other questions related to this, ask away and I’ll answer the best I can.
What is your best conversation with a grocery cashier?
P.S. My neighbor Vanda brought me tomatoes from her garden today. Totally random. And she’s my hairdresser too. Neighbors are the best!