The rising costs of food can be a concern to any parent trying to provide for their family and trying to save money. Something I have mastered in the past 9 years is not only how to coupon but how to make monthly and weekly family-friendly meal plans so I spend less on groceries and more on what my family wants and needs.
Have you ever thought about taking up couponing but decided it would be too much work or you didn’t want to become one of those extreme couponers that have papers everywhere and are clipping coupons for several hours a day?
In this day and age that is actually pretty rare. And couponing can be pretty simple.
Most coupons are now done digitally. Each store typically has its own app and its own coupon policy tailored to its store. Some stores double coupons, some stores only double certain coupons, and some stores don’t accept coupons at all. Also, if there is something you eat often or if there are specific brands you like, you can always email the company or look on their website for coupons.
When starting to coupon, you want to always look at what your grocery budget is and what stores you typically shop at.
You do not need to go to every store to get the best deals- but some people do. It’s all about what works for you.
I advise people who are starting to coupon to make a one-week meal plan based on items on sale at their preferred store. Doing just this will save you 30-40% of your grocery bill for that week. Meal planning and coupons can really help you save.
Don’t forget that while making your meal plan, I want you to look in your freezer, fridge, and pantry and see what you already have to use. No one needs a frozen food museum. If you have some frozen chicken, use that as the base for one of your meals.
Once your weekly meal plan has been made, I suggest you figure out what ingredients you’ll need to buy to complete those meals. Then, go look in your store’s app for additional savings on those items or other items that you need that week.
Finally, make note of any additional things that you saw in the flyer that you thought were a great deal or that you might want in the future. Grab things while they’re on sale if you can. Flyers rotate every 13 weeks or so.
Buying when staple foods are on sale is how you can slowly build up your stockpiles so that you’re not needing ingredients every single week- or you’ll need fewer ingredients every week and won’t go over your budget. It’s also important to only buy foods you’ll use. That’s where the meal planning comes in.
The biggest savings tip that I have found is using frozen produce. It lasts longer this way and it’s already prepared to be frozen if I am assembling a frozen crockpot meal.
Having my kids involved with the meal plan has also been productive because they’re more likely to eat what’s on the menu if they get to choose the menu for a night.
I also recommend picking a couple of days or even a day when you meal prep for the week ahead of time. This helps when you’re tired and will save you from ordering out at restaurants. One way I do this is by cooking all the ground beef for different meals on the weekend and then sectioning it in the refrigerator so you can just add it into the meals that week. Another idea is preparing mashed potatoes ahead of time so that when you need them you can pull them out and heat them up to use them in a dish, or even peeling and cutting vegetables up ahead of time to be able to make them quickly or offer them as a snack.
The more that you continue to reinforce this habit, the less you will be spending overall at the grocery store!
Meal planning for a big family can be tough when you’re trying to plan meals everyone likes. I focus on finding meals that are easily adjustable so I never have to cook two different meals. These are meals where people can pick and choose what they want on their plate. Sometimes just part of the meal can be substituted. Other times you end up with leftovers that can be factored into another night’s meal.
Meal planning and coupons save our family’s budget. We look to see what we have on hand, see what’s on sale and try to work around that. We know that saving money is hard, but we make it work for our family.
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Guest Writer: Nikki Mayhue
Nikki is a native Vermonter and mom of 4. She loves to hike with her family and Siberian Husky. After suffering postpartum depression with her daughter, Nikki threw herself into couponing, meal planning, and learning the art of being frugal. When Nikki isn’t running her household, she is a video game chick. She has worked at her local hospital for the last 19 years, been the PTO President of 2 different schools, a Boy Scout Den Leader and Merit Badge Counselor, a Girl Scout volunteer, and a volunteer for the respite house. She graduated last year with a B.S. in Community and Public Health. On top of it all, she runs her own small business as a Star Director with Scentsy. Nikki loves teaching others how to save money and loves building community in any way that she can.
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