#freshstart2017: Plan Your Meals

After housing, food is usually most people's biggest expense.

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The biggest weapon in the war against overspending on food is menu planning. It doesn't have to be some super healthy all-or-nothing plan. Putting slices of pizza aside for your lunch all week counts as meal planning, after all. So how do you do it? Well, you're on the internet right now and that truly is half the battle. Check out the weekly ads for a few grocery stores in your area. Write down produce that you like that's on sale and do the same for the meat and fish.

Now, take a look at your calendar for the week. Working late on Tuesday? Try to find a crock pot recipe that you can start in the morning. Having dinner out on Friday? Don't plan anything for that day. Catered lunch at work on Monday? Ditto.

Now, take a look into your fridge and cupboards. Write down anything that you've got and need to use up. Also make a note of anything that you'll need like milk, eggs, etc.

Poke around on a few recipe sites and find things you can make using a combination of what you have, what's on sale, and what you can cook. Bookmark the recipes and make a shopping list.

Image Credit: Jamie Stoltz

Download the Scottie Dog planner HERE.

Download the Sprinkles planner HERE.

Download the Pastel planner HERE.

Now, the hardest part: Go to the store and only buy what's on the list. If you're really cutting back and really don't trust yourself then only take cash. I did it for years! And more than once I've suffered the indignity of having to put an item back because I didn't have enough money. It happens, you'll live, I promise.

After you've gotten the hang of basic menu planning, you opt for theme nights like Taco Tuesday or Mushroom Monday to make the planning easier.