Four Tips to Meal Plan Like A Boss

Back in January, I wanted to simplify everything, including how we did grocery shopping.

Actually, I wanted the perfect grocery shopping scenario: cheaper food, better food, shop less often, and probably with childcare included. I’m pretty sure I saw it on Pinterest or something….some mom happily shopping for well-priced paleo foods, with happy kids who don’t act like feral goats or have a sit-in at the toy sections at the end of each aisle.

Since our kids will probably be acting like hot-wheel hoarding farm animals for a while longer, my husband was like, ‘Whoa lady, get off Pinterest’. Thank Lord for that man or I would have to build a storage shed for hoarding mason jars, nut milk strainers and all the yellow chalk paint I could sneak into the backyard. It would be a SHE SHED!!! I need to start a Pinterest Board for SHE SHEDS!!!!

Okay, I’m back. Let’s talk groceries. The first thing we did was start the Two-Week Grocery Shop. This has been great, we shop less, eat out of our pantry and freezer more often, spend less money of groceries. However, we have started a CSA Farm Box recently and sometimes need to grab a few things more often. But that wasn’t the one thing that improved our grocery shopping….

Here are the four steps I would recommend to anyone who wants to save money on groceries and meal plan like a boss:

 1. Know the prices

Confession time, when I saw something on sale at different stores I wouldn’t know if it was a good deal because I never paid attention to what items cost! I recommend that you learn the general prices of items you buy often AND know where the prices are the best. It appalled me when I started to pay attention to how much I was spending on grapes and avocados. Now,  I’m on produce rationing at my house (I’m super popular).

My bestie and I each have a matching spreadsheet with about five major stores on it. (One of the many reasons this woman is my best friend). We write down the costs of items from each store so we know where to get the cheapest black beans, quinoa flour, and toast accoutrements. I was really surprised by what we found, there were stores I assumed carried the cheapest of everything and it wasn’t the case.

So, step one, get your nerd on and make yourself a spreadsheet on the computer or in a notepad. On one side write all your most commonly purchased items, and columns for each store. You can use it work out cost per item too. You might also be asked if you are a high schooler working on a math assignment (totally not jealous about that one Soph!)


2. Take inventory of what you have

This step has been a GAME CHANGER. You know when you are looking in the fridge at the mayo, a half onion and some salsa and think you need to run to the store for dinner. You don’t. You need to grab that can of beans, rice and tortilla shells in the freezer and make some burritos! We spend so much money filling our pantries and freezers to have food ‘on hand’ then we never use it. We are letting our money just sit there in cupboards instead of putting it to use.

Before you make a grocery plan or when you think you don’t have ‘anything to eat’ write down EVERYTHING you have in your pantries and freezers. Get your ‘black box challenge’ on! Google some ideas or ask a foodie friend to help you think of something to eat.


3. Look at what is on sale

Look at what is on sale (I LOVE the Flipp app, not sponsored, I just really love it). Pay attention to meal staples like meat, beans, fish, and taquitos. Then start to form a meal plan based on what you have, and what is on sale.

meal planning, simple on purpose

Don’t just write down what you want to eat that week. This feels very organized and logical but it is actually costing you more money to meal plan this way. Instead, start with planning around what you have. If you are using frozen veggies and eating bean burritos when you would rather have a fresh chicken salad and baguette remember that this is money you have already spent. No need to let it sit around getting freezer burnt or crushed into crumbs every time you rummage in the pantry.


4. Make your grocery list

 Then make your grocery list. If you can get to multiple stores then make sure to shop around for the best prices of items that aren’t on sale. Use your spreadsheet that you felt like a total dweeb filling out but now it’s affirming your obvious domestic genius.
Meal planning is something that will save us time, money and stress. But maybe it is something we haven’t really learned or something we never thought about doing. I believe that meal planning is a lost art….like window washing or darning socks. I hope these tips empower you to meal plan and grocery shop like a boss!

Love Shawna, Your Nerdy Girlfriend who believes being a little nerdy can save you money on food….so you never have to settle for generic cheese ever again….




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