Welcome to my 15 Minutes to Fabulous series! Over the next few days I’ll be featuring some fantastic guest writers sharing ways to be fabulous in just 15 minutes. Let’s face it, give a busy woman 15 minutes of uninterrupted time and she can conquer the world…or at least 15 minutes of it! Today’s guest blogger is my friend (and Blissdom 2011 roommate) Kelly from Faithful Provisions.
If you’ve got 15 minutes, you can get started revolutionizing the way you shop. In other words, you can save money!
I believe that meal planning is critical to saving money at the grocery store. Think about it: If you don’t know what you’re having for dinner tonight, you are much more likely to (1) order pizza or some other take-out meal, (2) go out for dinner, or (3) make an impulsive trip to the grocery store and buy things you may or may not need. Whichever option is most likely to happen to you, you’re spending a lot more money (and you’re costing yourself time and STRESS) than you would if you had a plan and a meal ready at home.
To be honest, learning how to meal plan doesn’t happen overnight. But it can easily happen 15 minutes at a time if you take a few days and follow these steps.
Day One: Organize your freezer. Take 15 minutes to see what’s in your freezer. This is a great time to see what goodies you have in there that need to be eaten, along with what needs to be thrown away. You will find all kinds of things that you have forgotten about. Use my freezer inventory sheet to get things organized.
Day Two: Organize your pantry. Today you’ll spend 15 minutes learning just what you have in your pantry. Now that you know what’s in your freezer, you’ll automatically begin putting together meals. For example, you know there is ground beef in your freezer, and now you find taco shells and salsa in your pantry. Use my pantry inventory sheet to list the items you find that you know you and your family will eat. (Items that are still good but that you are willing to admit no one in your family likes need to be donated to your local food pantry.)
Day Three: Plan as many meals as you can. Set the timer for 15 minutes and take a look at your freezer inventory list and your pantry inventory list. Put together the meals that you already have everything for using my free downloadable Meal Planning Template. Next, see what meals you almost have. For example, you may have ground beef in the freezer and pasta in the pantry, but no spaghetti sauce or Parmesan cheese. Put the items you need to make a complete meal from what you already have on hand on a separate list.
Day Four: See what’s on sale. Today you will need your grocery sales ad. You can usually find these online, or you may want to go by the store and pick one up. Learning how to read a sales ad is all part of this process. What meat is on special this week? What fruits and vegetables are in season and on sale? You will finish planning this week’s meals by purchasing the items that are on sale. Remember those meals that you almost have completed, the ones that just need a few ingredients? See if those ingredients are on sale. If not, you can wait until they are.
Honestly, if you have a morning or afternoon free, you can knock these steps out all at once. What a feeling of accomplishment! If you don’t have that kind of time, then approach each set of 15 minutes one day at a time. In less than a week, you’ll be on your way to meal planning and saving lots of money.
Kelly Hancock is the author of Saving Savvy: Smart and Easy Ways to Cut Your Spending in Half and Raise Your Standard of Living…and Giving. An exile from corporate America since becoming a stay-at-home mom, Kelly learned quickly to live on less than half the family’s former income. As she mastered the principles of what she calls, “Grocery Savings,” she began sharing her knowledge with others on her daily cost-cutting blog, Faithful Provisions.