Meal planning is one of the easiest ways to save money, time and hassle!!  It can be done weekly, biweekly or monthly to coordinate with your shopping schedule.  I do a big shop once a month so I do a monthly meal plan which is most cost effective.  If you feel like a month is too overwhelming start small and try a week at a time.  Here are some tips to help get you started!

* Give each family member some recipe cards to write their favourite meals on

* Go through the weekly flyers to find out what’s on sale (if there’s a great deal on ground beef then maybe you can have chili one night and lasagna another, you could even make a double batch and freeze it for your next meal plan)

* Check what’s already in your freezer and pantry!  You probably have a few meals that you can already put together with the things you have on hand

* Make a list of the meals you’ve compiled from your family, your pantry inventory and the flyers (include all your items – meat, side, vegetable) and all the ingredients you will require for each meal

* Try to space out similar meats to keep the family from getting bored but keep similar produce together (if you have two difference recipes with tomatoes try to put them within a couple days of each other so they don’t spoil before you use them)

* Write the meals on your calendar (make sure you leave room for nights where you will have leftovers or a takeout treat)

* For nights that are busier try to incorporate a slow cooker meal, if you have to have the kids at soccer by 630 you can slow cook a chicken or roast all day and avoid those golden arches

* Write out your grocery list – I like to write mine according to grocery store aisle so I don’t miss anything – I keep meats together, produce together, dairy together, etc.

* Head to the store!  This is key – you need to stick to your list.  You aren’t saving yourself any money if you’re picking up a bunch of extras – if it’s not in the meal plan and it’s not a killer sale price, chances are you can live without it until the next shop

* Prep what you can to make weeknights easier.  When I bring my groceries home I prep everything that I can beforehand.  I pre-cook my hamburger before freezing it, cube up any chicken needed for certain recipes before frozen, and portion out and chop up any veggies that can be done in advance


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