Following a Meal Plan or Saving Money on Food?

Eating sweets with my friend Natasha

Eating sweets with my friend Natasha

Food is expensive. Buying it myself I have come to realize that. No longer can I throw hummus, vegetarian chicken, and protein bars into my mother’s cart and assume that we have the money for it all. Now, I must choose wisely what I am willing to splurge on as I get discounted bread, non-brand name cereal, and the cheapest apples possible.

This lack of funds for all food makes following my meal plan difficult. Fresh vegetables? How would I keep those good when I am running off to work? Buying a salad at work? Have you seen the price of salads? No thank you.

Surely I am not the only person struggling between eating better and saving money. So what do you do? How do you face this dilemma?

Here are a few options that I have thought of so far:

  • Eliminate the small wastes in your food spending like pop or energy drinks.
  • Cook meals instead of buying them pre-made. Make enough for several days.
  • Do not eat out too much and choose wisely when you do.
  • Shop at cheaper stores such as Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s.
  • Freeze what you do not use so that you can use it later.

Those are just a few options for saving money. I am trying to do them but struggle sometimes. Hopefully, this balance of eating my meal plan and spending the right amount will even out in the future. After all, this is just my fourth month doing this. I am allowed a trial period, right?

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8 thoughts on “Following a Meal Plan or Saving Money on Food?

  1. Rachel says:

    1 – Be careful about assuming that bulk/discount shops are actually cheaper than normal supermarkets. Sometimes you can get things the same price or cheaper at the normal supermarket – and it’s less likely to be out of date.
    2 – Keep an eye out for specials. Most supermarkets have a “specials rack” in each section, with cheaper (often nearing use-by date) produce. Many also offer specials on certain items each week – my local supermarket marks all specials with a large pink sticker and how much it’s discounted by. I usually buy meat according to what’s on special, so I might get lots of silverside one week and put it in the freezer to use over a month or two, and then the next week buy lots of chicken drumsticks if that’s on special.
    3 – I have a meal plan, but don’t make it until AFTER doing the shopping. The meal plan is for ease of cooking, rather than ease of shopping. I’m cautious about ever writing a meal plan before shopping, because I don’t know what will be on special (particularly with the meats – although I take it you’re vegetarian, so that’s not an issue).
    4 – Okay, this one isn’t reasonable, but I think if you could get rid of allergies, shopping would be a lot cheaper. My family can’t have gluten or dairy, so simple things like bread, milk, and cheese turn out really expensive.
    5 – I usually overcook each night so that dinner’s leftovers can be put into containers for three of us to take to school/uni/work the next day. That eliminates both the expense of finding food and the monotony of sandwiches. It’s easy enough just to cook extra vegetables to make more food in total.
    6 – In both bulk/discount shops and normal supermarkets, be careful of buying something just because it’s on special. Basically, if it’s not something you have to buy anyway, don’t buy it. If you spend $1.50 on something that’s 50% off that you wouldn’t normally buy, you’re not saving $1.50, you’re spending an extra $1.50. (I think this is pretty obvious, but my dad hasn’t yet understood this).

  2. 80smetalman says:

    If you like pasta and rice. You can save lots of money and have many healthy meals using them. My tip for the day.

  3. Anne says:

    I love my fresh vegies but sometimes frozen may actually have more nutritional value and they are often cheaper. I’ve heard this before: Nutritionally speaking, frozen veggies are similar to — and sometimes better than — fresh ones. This makes sense, considering that these veggies are usually flash-frozen (which suspends their “aging” and nutrient losses) immediately after being harvested. Frozen veggies were often picked in the peak of their season, too. (WEB MD)

  4. oh my that dress look’s really good on you.

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