What’s for dinner this week? There are some easy recipes in Easy Dinner Menu Ideas Week 18 that include game day food that does double duty for dinner, a Chinese dinner takeout alternative, and a hearty breakfast casserole.
It’s no secret that planning meals saves time and money. It’s also less stressful to know what’s exactly on the menu without worrying what will be for dinner. Especially on busy nights when you may get home late.
Through the years, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks about being thrifty and saving money. Here are some of the best ones.
10 Tips for Budget Menu Planning
These tips are in an order that will help you be more effecient. By starting with the freezer you can use up what you have, saving money and mitigating waste.
- Check your freezer, fridge and pantry: Start with what you have. Make a list, don’t rely on your memory because you’ll be running back and forth because you don’t remember.
- Make a Menu: In addition to Easy Dinner Menu Ideas Week 18, my other weekly ideas can greatly help with this task. Stick to your menu because you’ll have bought the groceries! Decide what works best for you by planning by the week, month or even year.
- Plan your menu around grocery sales: Use your store’s weekly ad. Most markets have their ads on line or you can subscribe to get the weekly ad into your email in box. A time saver tip would be to work on your menu as the ads come into your email. The one’s I subscribe to come on different days.
- Look to use seasonal ingredients: They are usually cheaper. Make zucchini recipes in zucchini season, which is summer and butternut squash in fall.
- Avoid recipes that need a special ingredient: Why? Because they are often expensive and not as common, leading to waste. If there’s a new spice you need, ask a friend if they have some you can borrow. That way you try it and if you like it, then spend the money on it.
- Keep a notebook or calendar: This is important for a number of reasons. You can keep track of what you make when so you don’t repeat favorites too often. You can make notes about what your family’s likes and dislikes are. If you go the calendar route, you can use diffferent color highlighters to indicate favorites.
- Get the family involved: Ask your significant other and kids what they like. Their ideas will help make your menu. Plus if they enjoy it, they will actually eat it. Less waste and money saved.
- Things to consider when planning: When placing meals on your menu, think about what you have going on that day. Will you be working late? Do the kids have sports practice? Leave those nights for easier meals. Check the weather too, if you’re planning on grilling.
- Shop with a calculator: If your budget is really tight, you don’t want to go over. Using a calculator or app will help you stay on track. Search the app store on your phone to find one you like.
- Use coupons: Some stores have loyalty cards you can load coupons onto or get in-store discounts while others have digital coupons you keep in an account you make and enter at checkout. The digital age has made coupons less popular but they are still out there and can still save money.
- BONUS IDEA: Use an app like Ibotta which gives you cash back on purchases. You can find it in the app store. Other apps where you accumulate rewards for gift cards include Shopkick and Fetch. If you sign up for Fetch with my referral code M6DEK you’ll get 2,000 points when you snap your first receipt and I’ll get points too! There are lots of gift cards to choose from and I use them for places like Target, Walmart, etc. for shopping. But you can save them and pick ones for Starbucks, Amazon, Domino’s and more which essentially saves you money since you’re using points to get the card and either treating yourself to pizza or buying a gift for someone on Amazon.
These ideas are perfect for couples or families. Everyone can learn to budget and save money. If you have any tips or ideas that work for you leave me a comment below.