Our first month of marriage I filled the fridge with whatever I felt like buying. I did not meal plan, then I realized how much money I was spending. My goal was to stay in budget, to create food that I can have fun making, and above all tastes good. A lot of my steps have to do with saving money. If you are a newlywed you probably do a lot to save your money, hopefully, I can give you some practical tips on how to increase those savings.
When you are first married there is a lot of pressure on you to be a good cook, having your meals planned out will help relieve some of that pressure. These are the ten steps I take to get a good meal plan for every week.
Step 1: The Budget
Budgeting is an important first step. You need to know how much you can spend before picking out the meals. Get together with your spouse and figure out how much you can afford.
Step 2: Favorite Meals
Part of being a newlywed is getting to know your spouse. A good way to get to know someone is through food. Trying new food and finding favorites is an excellent way to understand your husband. You can also use it as a way to show appreciation towards him or to celebrate something. If you have something to celebrate make his favorite dinner, if he needs to see your appreciation make a dessert he loves. Its a practical way to show love and affection. Make the food an experience by trying something new, you are creating a moment that can be remembered.
Step 3: Fresh Food
You can save a lot of money by purchasing food in season. Fresh foods will be cheaper at the grocery store. If you are close to a farm or farmers market you can get a really good deal on fresh food. Eat fresh food your wallet will thank you and so will your waistline.
Step 4: Coupons and Ads
If you have time, use coupons. Better yet, make time! Today it so easy to use coupons, there really isn’t a reason not to. Our local supermarket has its own phone app that has coupons that I can clip online and then as i’m checking out it takes off the amount that I clipped. No crazy subdivided wallet needed.
Step 5: Buy in Bulk
If you have more than one meal that uses one item it’s a good idea to buy that item in bulk. We buy rice and beans in bigger amounts because they are both cheap and go with so many meals. Rice can go with anything and it fills you up, its very affordable too. Rice, beans, potatoes, cabbage etc. are all items that go a long way and are cheap. Before you go shopping be sure to consider what you already have in your pantry and use that to make a new list of meals for the week.
Step 6: Try Something New
I pick out one new recipe every two weeks that I have always wanted to make, and it’s so much fun. I like to pick out pinterest recipes because I can see what the final outcome should look like. You can also see if people like it by reading reviews online. If you are trying to save money you will have to limit this some because it can get costly.
Step 7: Go Vegetarian
We eat very little meat, not because we are vegetarian or vegan, but because it’s healthier and it’s cheaper. We were buying chicken every week and every week some would go bad. It was just wasteful. So I tried making our favorite meals without meat and they were so good, and we felt better after eating them. We will usually do a salad for lunch and then something like tacos or stir fry or pasta for dinner. These all can be done easily without meat and are super tasty.
Step 8: Let him Cook
My husband sometimes wants to cook. Dont forget that guys like to cook too! Grilling is a good way to have your husband make a meal. I usually ask him if he will want to cook a meal, and buy the items for him. Its good to have him cook once in awhile because he then is very appreciative that you take the time to cook most nights.
Step 9: Have Fun
A lot of people are intimidated by cooking. Anyone can cook, if you can taste you can cook. A lot of times I will just keep adding things until I can say to myself “ I WANT TO EAT THAT!”. I am not afraid to mess up a meal either, partly because my husband is very forgiving and doesn’t mind if I have a bad food day. If you are willing to mess up then you will be a better cook. Many people think it’s a science but it’s not, just go with it until it taste good. Baking is another story…you should follow the recipe when baking.
Step 10: Have a List.
It is so important to have a shopping list when meal planning, you need to know exactly how much of each item you need. Writing down only what you will buy will keep you from impulse buying. Look at the ads before you go into the store(most you can view online). Use the ad to build your list. Another good tip is to not enter the store while hungry. Sometimes this can not be avoided, but you tend to buy unnecessary food when hungry.
I hope these ten practical steps help you in your meal planning. Enjoy it, it’s a lot of fun when you get it down and it leads to a lot less stress.
How do you organize your meals? Please share in the comments!