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Meal-Plan Your Way to Savings on your Shopping

We’ve all heard this sage advice: “Don’t ever shop for groceries on an empty stomach.” It’s doubly true if you’re trying to cut costs in the face of inflation. Plan-free shopping can lead to mindless or even rushed, frantic purchases that drive up costs and don’t align with your health and fitness goals. I’m sure you’ve been there: Your fridge is empty and you’re pressed for time, so you rush to the closest store and just start tossing items in the cart. You don’t look for items on sale, you don’t check prices at other stores, and you don’t pay close attention to quantities. You definitely grab a few things you hadn’t planned to buy from prominent displays. The results: You spend more than you want to. You leave with high-calorie “convenient” items you don’t actually need. Your “anything goes” choices aren’t matched to your fitness goals. You buy too much food. This will drive up your costs if it spoils before you eat it or it will derail your fitness plan if you overeat to avoid waste. Perhaps better advice would be this: “Don’t shop without a plan.” With a solid plan, you can make choices that support your healthy habits and reflect your

budget. No mindless shopping, no food waste and no overspending. The absolute best way to maximize your savings is to plan your meals for the month. This might seem daunting at first, but it’s actually simple: You can just reuse one week four times or you can swap some recipes in and out of a weekly template if you prefer variety. Every planned meal is going to help you with your budget. With meals on the calendar, you can break down your grocery shopping into two manageable pieces: monthly buying and weekly buying. Monthly Purchases Frequently used ingredients should be purchased in bulk at discount stores. These are the items that show up in many meals and won’t not perish if they’re stored properly. A few examples: oatmeal, pancake mix, condiments, egg whites (keep an eye on these—they don’t last forever), canned food, frozen vegetables and fruit, and so on. You can also look at buying meat in bulk if you have freezer space. Then package smaller quantities in freezer-safe bags that reflect the meals you’ll make in the month. Just make sure you plan for the week in advance: Get the frozen meat into the fridge ahead of time so it can thaw for cooking! Some of these “monthly items” might even be purchased every other month if they’ll keep for a long time. And if you have a family member or friend who is on the same nutrition wavelength, you might find opportunities to make even larger purchases that reduce price further. You’ll then split the food—and cost. Plan, Budget and Save

Everything starts with your meal plan. After you create it, you can make your monthly and weekly lists, and the longer you stick to the plan, the more precise your lists will be. In short order, you’ll become a “routine machine,” and you’ll be able to dial in your budget. For example, if you know you have €1,000 for food in the month, you might determine that you’ll spend €400 in one monthly trip and then €150 a week. With that data, you can then make adjustments when sales or bulk opportunities pop up. Intimidated by a monthly meal plan? Start small: Plan out the next three days and then get only the food you need to execute the plan. You won’t get the maximum savings of a monthly plan, but you’ll have a reusable “three-day block” to drop into a work-in-progress monthly plan. Think of any period of planning as a LEGO block you can use to create a larger plan for healthy eating and cost cutting. The keys to it all: meal plans and grocery lists. You don’t want to sprint out of the store vegetable-free but carrying three overpriced, less-than-nutritious frozen dinners and a sugary pie for dessert. That could happen if you shop with an empty stomach and no plan. If you need help matching up healthy eating habits with your fitness goals, you know we’re just a click away. Contact us!

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