Have you ever thought about using meal planning to save money?
If not, perhaps you should.
Consider this: feeding a family of four dinner at a popular fast-food chain can cost close to $30, according to the New York Times. Not everyone eats out every week, but Rasmussen Reports notes that 58 percent of Americans eat out at least once per week. If you have seen the lines at the local coffee shop in the morning or have been a part of the lunch crowd yourself, then you know latte and lunch-spending can be a real budget buster. Spending 10 dollars a day for lunch five days a week costs $2,500 per year for someone who works a standard 50 weeks and takes a two-week vacation every year. That’s a lot of money—and that number does not include any morning lattes.
It does not have to be this way. According to USDA guidelines, a family of four can eat a week of nutritious meals prepared at home for as little as $150, which is about $20 per day. Couples can eat for a whole lot less; it can cost about $90 per week to feed them.
Planning healthy meals is not only more affordable, it is also more beneficial to your health. The National Alliance for Nutrition & Activity notes that diet-related or lifestyle diseases are on the rise and pose a real threat to personal financial security, especially when you consider health care costs and the possibility of disability or death.
Meal planning may be the answer you need. Here are some of the benefits:
How to Create a Meal Plan
Creating a meal plan is as easy as preparing a budget. Most of the information you need is already in your kitchen. Here’s how to get started:
Check out free meal planning tools such as Pepperplate or the website of your local grocery store. Many grocery stores have planners that help you set meal plans, add recipes, and create a shopping list.
Remember fresh is great, but frozen vegetables are good too. They’re convenient and often less expensive. Buy in bulk for items that you regularly purchase, and plan shopping trips so that you can take advantage of sales.
Meal planning is an effective way to save both time and money. Give it a try, and see how much you save.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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