Meal Planning June #1

The Healthy Splurger Way

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It's that time of the week when you get paid and you have to splurge your money on groceries to feed your family's faces. I used to be that kind of mum, that just couldn't be bothered meal planning - what was the point? The kids won't eat this or that, they change their mind every few seconds.

It got to the point that we, as a family of six, were spending $550-$600 every fortnight on groceries. Groceries alone! That really hits a spot. We were encouraged by a financial adviser to sit down and write out exactly where we spent our money each pay, and to be honest about it. So that's exactly what we did. 

My husband David and I sat down together and wrote it all out. We realised that groceries were our biggest expense other than rent every pay. After coming to that realisation, we were determined to reduce our fortnightly shopping expenses.

I immediately thought about meal planning and meal prepping. I first tried online shopping and delivery. This did not work for me at all! The first time I ordered online, the company took four consecutive payments out. Within the week, I had spent well over $800. Thankfully, they were truly sorry and did reimburse the other four payments they took out of my account, but this was extremely stressful. I gave that a miss for a while.

I went back to online shopping several months later. It did bring my budget down at least $100-$125, which brought my grocery budget to around $400 at both Coles and Woolworths.

I then shortly realised that if I shopped online, I would not be able to see any clearance items on the shelves; only the special items on sale that week. So I stopped shopping online altogether.

Below I have outlined in dot point the method I use to successfully meal plan for my family of six.

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> I start meal planning 3-5 days prior to the shopping day (this allows me to fully compare prices and products)

> I scope out what meals the family wants me to cook. I help by showing them recipe books, researching online, and offering ideas of my own.

> I try to use recipes that are versatile, and contain cheaper cuts of meat. I make meals that can be made in bulk and used for other meals, such as spaghetti sauce. E.g.

       > Nachos

       > Jaffles (toasties)

       > Baked potatoes 

       > Mexican eggs

> Once we find some great recipes that are versatile and use cheaper cuts of meat, I write them down on my meal planning sheet, which fits into the fortnightly meal plan. If you have a takeaway night, jot that into place too. Where I'm located, we have cheap Tuesdays so if we do takeaway, that's the night!

> This is when you get nitty gritty with your meal planning and start researching prices. I get my grocery list out in the kitchen, as I can go back and forth to the pantry, fridge and freezer to see if I have to restock anything. Account for every ingredient in the recipes on your meal plans. If you don't have an ingredient in your cupboard, put it in the designated spot on your grocery list. Keep doing this until all meals are accounted for.

> Do the same thing for breakfast, lunches and snacks on your second meal planning sheet. Use the same method as with the dinners.

> Once that part of the meal planning is completed, it's time to price match. If you don't have an Aldi you can access, then go online open up both Coles and Woolworths in your browser. Start adding items into your cart that are on your grocery list. If an item is cheaper at Woolworths, leave it in your cart and delete it out of your Coles online cart.

> Continue to go back and forth with the items until everything on your grocery list has been accounted for. If you shop at Aldi, then you won't be able to do this. I find Aldi's website is hard to navigate, but you can give it ago. I go down to Aldi with my shopping list, get a gist of prices, and write them down. Aldi is often cheaper with the majority of items, but some meat isn't, and fruit and vegetables can be cheaper at the green grocer.

> The idea is to get the cheapest price for the item you want. Since I am being so strict with money right now and trying to save every penny possible, I don't mind compromising on some items.

> After adding and comparing everything in your online cart, it will give a total. That's where I get my budget from for that fortnight. I keep the carts there until it's shopping day. Prices and sales can change at any time. My shopping days are Thursday, but I know Coles and Woolworths change their sales over on Wednesdays.

> Sale items that I may have put in my cart on Wednesday might be full price by the Thursday. This happened once and my total cart price jumped an extra $20. I then researched those items again and checked to see if the other supermarket had them on sale. If they did, I purchased them at the other supermarket.

> If the total between both stores came to $250, and you knew you were going to the green grocer too, I would set my budget to $300 for the fortnight.

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Meal planning is easy. It gets better and better the more you do it. You get into the swing of things, and it becomes second nature. I try to allow some extra money for the second week like more fruit, UHT milk, and bread if need be. Now that we meal prep sandwiches and freeze them for the fortnight, I find that I am not going back to the supermarket during the whole two week period. I'll go to the green grocer for fruit, and that's about it.

I feel the less I am at the supermarket, the less temptation there is to spend in places I know I shouldn't. If you have to go back to the supermarket, try to just take what money you need.

Let's be healthy, money splurgers! Let's be shopping savvy and save money in areas we know we can. I feel so happy that I can pass on the information and knowledge that I know works. Happy grocery shopping!

 

Below are Meal Planning Sheets. One weekly,

one fortnightly, and one monthly. A Meal Plan to suit every need.

Click the photo below and it will take you to all the Meal Plans.

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