/ Lifestyle

Plan meals and save money

Planning meals ahead of time can help you stay on budget and make healthy food choices — so you can keep your wallet (and your family) full all week.

We've all been there before — you've run out of food for the week so you pick up some items one day, grab a few more the next day. Before you know it, the grocery store becomes a regular stop on your drive home. It's easy to get into this routine when you've got a busy schedule. But when was the last time you took a moment to add up how much those quick grocery trips are costing you, budget-wise?

From scoping out the best deals to prepping meals ahead of time, here are five easy steps to planning meals and saving money.

1. Embrace weekly flyers

Combing through flyers might take a bit of time, but it can save a lot of money in the long run, especially when it comes to big-ticket items like meat or frozen food. Start by scanning the latest stack of local flyers and write down sale items on a shopping list. You may have to travel around to pick up the best deals. Or, bring your flyers with you and shop at a store that will price match competitors' advertised prices.

Woman grocery shopping with mobile2. Save with a weekly shopping app

If you're looking for a mobile app that can help you save money on groceries, Flipp is a great platform that collects digital flyers and coupons in your area. You can print off coupons, build a shopping list, search for specific deals or products, and even filter by store or brands. If you use price matching, Flipp can make this process a breeze. Search for the lowest advertised prices, clip the items to a list and show your phone to the cashier to get the best bang for your buck.

3. Use the flyers to create a menu (before you shop)

Now that you've found the best sales and coupons, you're ready to start planning your weekly menu. Use the items you found on special to create a foundation for weeknight dinners. Did you find ground turkey on sale? Consider making a healthy chili. Or was there a whole chicken on mark down? Cook it on the weekend and have leftovers during the week. Browse through your pantry and fridge before you hit the grocery store – if you already have some of the items, check them off your list.

Mother and daughter blending fruit4. Set aside time to prep meals

When you've got a lot on the go, grabbing take-out can free up time to focus on other things at home. Use the menu you created in step 3 and set aside a few hours on the weekend to prepare your meals. If you're going to have a busy week, use your slow cooker to make soups and stews that you can take for lunch or have for dinner the next day. Stocking your fridge with ready-to-go meals will keep you on budget and give you the freedom to enjoy the food you make without stress.

5. Get creative with your leftovers

Leftovers are a perfect way to stretch your grocery budget. Instead of cooking just enough for you and your family, try doubling the ingredients and pack away the extras for later. Not sure what to do with random leftovers in your fridge? Instead of throwing them out, get creative and combine your leftovers to cook up a tasty new dish. Learning to use or re-purpose your leftovers can help you save money while cutting down on your food waste.

Tip: Check out food sites like Yummly that offer a great selection of recipes.

Start planning for affordable weeknight dinners today!

When you plan ahead, look for great deals, prepare meals in advance and use all the food in your fridge, you can cut down on your grocery bills and save money for things like your next vacation. Follow these five steps and set yourself up for a week of delicious and affordable dinners.

This article is for informational purposes only. For personalized financial advice, you should contact a qualified financial advisor

You might also be interested in

/ Lifestyle

9 Budget-friendly ways to enjoy the summer

From cancelled flights to a lack of summer camps, many Canadians are facing a different summer than anticipated. Here are 9 ways to enjoy the summer in our “new normal”, while keeping to a tight budget.

/ Lifestyle

Reduce Damage to Your Credit During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

A global pandemic will have financial repercussions that we can’t know the extent of. From lost wages to corporate closures, we are going to feel the results of COVID-19 on our wallets for the foreseeable future.