Meal-planning would hardly seem worth it if it didn't save us money. Even though it saves us time (no asking "what's for dinner," meandering through every aisle of the grocery store, or searching for the recipe), and it definitely helps us eat healthier, it takes a bit of effort. And we all know we only have so much effort in us. But the times I slack on meal-planning, well, we pay for it. Literally.
Anytime I don't meal plan (complete with an accurate shopping list), or meal plan loosely and don't stick to the list, we average over $100 on groceries for the week. However, whenever I plan recipes that use whole foods (i.e., dry rice and our own seasonings rather than a packet of seasoned rice), the list is more accurate, I do better sticking to it, and we spend an average of $75/wk (or less). Plus, we eat healthier too!
Just last week I spent $61.31. And this isn't just a one-time savings. Meal-planning (specifically when I do so using Veggie Meal-Maker) regularly keeps us at around $75/week and often less. Look at our week of Project: Food Budget >> here from April. We spent $69.11. And we don't keep a large stock of food in our house, so it's not like we're just eating out of our pantry.
The question arises:
Is paying for a meal planning service worth the cost?
The answer takes a bit of simple math.
When I meal plan on paper and make my own shopping list, we average:
$100/wk (often more) on groceries, which comes to about $435/mo or $5,200/yr
When I meal plan with Veggie Meal-Maker, using automated shopping lists on the mobile app, we average:
$75/wk (often less) on groceries, which comes to about $325/mo or $3,900/yr
That's a pretty big savings, right? That's a $110 monthly savings and a $1,300 yearly savings to be exact. A savings possible by a service that costs $8/mo or $72/yr.
That's savings that I am happy with! Well, maybe less happy, and more thankful that our small household budget lasts the month rather than leaving us eating random stuff from the cupboards for the last week of the month. (Literally happens every time I don't meal plan.)
There's something you should know: Signing up for a meal planning service doesn't magically save us money.
I know, bummer right? If I could spend $350/month for groceries and for someone to plan, shop, cook and clean, and not have to do anything, I'd sign up yesterday! But that's a dream that's far left of reality. What is real, is that a little effort, a little knowledge, and a little will power go a long way in meal-planning success.
Let's break those down...
Meal-planning takes effort.I hold to meal-planning saving me time. And absolutely improving our health. But it takes some effort to want to do it. To want to plan, and to want to take the guess work out of it all. Even though this part (the planning) comes somewhat naturally to me, it still takes effort to get started. To turn my brain on and sit and just do it. Scheduling in a 15-30 -minute session each Sunday where the kids are entertained and I get to sip vanilla cappuccino while I plan helps me feel rewarded. Remembering the easy shopping trips with my mobile list, and the saved money also help motivate me.
Meal-planning takes knowledge.My account with Veggie Meal-Maker wouldn't be worth as much if I didn't know 1. how to meal-plan, and 2. how to use the meal-planning app. Learning to do these two things is critical in saving time and money with meal-planning. If you're new to meal-planning, start with the free e-book >> here. If you know how to meal-plan, but are new to Veggie Meal-Maker, checkout my tutorials in this series >> here, and sign up for your free 30-day trial >> here, if you haven't already.
Meal-planning takes willpower.What good is a plan if you don't follow it? The plan needs to be followed from shopping trip to meal-time, and back again. If I have a complete, current, thorough shopping list, I add very few impulse purchases. That takes practice. Using the cash system helps with this, because I have visible limits to what I can buy, and feel the emotional pull when I hand cash to the cashier rather than blindly swiping a card. Similarly, if I have a meal planned and can pull that recipe up on my phone, I am more likely to follow through on cooking it. That also takes practice. Working this into our daily routine helps, because I do it the same time everyday, generally if I'm "in the mood" or not.
Do these things, and Veggie Meal-Maker could likely save you $25/week (or more!) as well.
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