Living independently is all fun and games until you actually have to take care of yourself. Suddenly, you have to make a grocery list, go to the store, or order food online just to get your meals. You also have to clean after yourself because your parents are no longer there to do it for you.
Luckily, this isn’t too hard to solve if you know where to begin living on your own. But if you’re not that comfortable with the idea yet, here are nine tips that can help you plan your meals while saving money in the process.
Tip #1 Always make a grocery list
The first thing you should do is make a list of all the ingredients you will need to buy at the store and take it with you. This way, you won’t overspend on items that you don’t necessarily have to buy yet, and you won’t forget the things that you do need.
When you’re making a grocery list, the best place to begin is the pantry. Check what you already have that needs to be used up or repurchased later on, and plan your meals around those ingredients. For example, if you have spaghetti sauce in the pantry that needs to be used by next week, have a pasta dish for tonight and lasagna for the weekend.
Tip #2 Make a list of your favorite meals and go from there
Beginning your meal planning journey by recreating your favorite meals is never a bad place to start. It can be enjoyable to try cooking the same dishes you’ve always ordered at your favorite restaurant, only now they will be yours!
Tip #3 Cook your meals in bulk
One way to save money on groceries is by cooking in bulk—this means making food for two or more people at once, which saves time and money. Try to make a large batch of food and freeze it in individual size servings when you can. This way, you can simply reheat your meals for dinner.
Tip #4 Get creative with leftovers
Leftovers can be unappetizing, but if you just try a few simple tricks to make them tastier, they can become your new favorite dish. For example, you can turn leftover rice or pasta into fried rice or pasta salad. You can also make casseroles out of your old meat dishes by piling them on top of each other and mixing them.
Tip #5 Try new recipes
It can be a fun challenge to try new recipes when you’re cooking for yourself. You can find delicious meals online, but make sure they are meals you want to eat. Also, you should be careful when following recipes that contain ingredients you’ve never tried before because these could trigger an allergic reaction.
If you’re not sure whether you’re allergic to a certain ingredient, consider approaching a specialist when you experience abnormal reactions. This way, you can receive the right treatment for your allergy without worsening your current situation.
Tip #6 Label and date your food when you buy it
By doing so, you’ll know when your food will go bad and consume them before that time comes. This means that you won’t have to throw anything away, which will save both time and money in the process. Of course, this will only work if your dates are accurate, so be careful with the dates you write down.
Tip #7 Plan your menu around the grocery store sales
One of the biggest benefits of meal planning is that you can save time and money on your food. That’s why it’s crucial to plan your menu around the sales in the grocery store circulars or weekly flyers so that you can get a head start on all of your ingredients.
Tip #8 Choose to shop locally when you can
If you know of a food store or farmers’ market with better prices than the local grocery store, shop there instead. Get creative with your shopping and support local businesses in your area. If you do this, you will be able to save money so that you can spend it on other things while supporting your community.
Tip #9 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re struggling with meal planning, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can speak with your parents about what you should be doing, and they can help you come up with a plan. You could also create a meal planning Facebook group with your friends and talk over the meal planning process together.
In conclusion, meal planning is a great way to save money on groceries and gain more freedom, but it can also be time-consuming if you don’t have an organized approach. By following the tips above, you can become a meal planning pro in no time!