One of the biggest categories in any budget is groceries. This makes sense. We all have to eat, right?
Few would argue the importance of having a nicely stocked kitchen to prepare wholesome meals for yourself and others in your household. But, despite the fact that we need food to sustain us, we can still be responsible and intentional about how we spend our money on it.
One way is to cook at home more often than eating out. This means creating a grocery budget and a plan for your home-cooked meals. But, before you make that list and head off to your favorite store, the first thing you should be doing is taking inventory of what you already have on hand. Here are some benefits of inventory meal planning.
You’ll Save Money
When you go to the store with no idea of what you already have in your kitchen, you are likely to over-buy, leading to wasted food and money. Making a grocery list based on what sounds good versus what you have to start with is a sure-fire way to blow your budget.
Think about it.
How many times have you stood in the middle of the produce aisle trying to remember if you have any bagged salad left in the fridge? Maybe that’s just me. There have been numerous times when I’ve picked up items that I didn’t think I had, only to get back home and find that I did. This often led to wasted food, especially for perishable items that I couldn’t finish.
Also, the money I spent on extras I didn’t need could have been spent on other items on my list, or saved for the next week’s grocery trip. Inventory meal planning definitely fits in with my personal quest towards financial independence, as saving on groceries pushes me closer to my personal finance goals.
You’ll Save Time
Having a solid plan for your upcoming weeks’ meals will definitely save you time in the grocery store. Although I actually enjoy grocery shopping (don’t judge me!), I don’t want to spend hours wandering aimlessly in the store. Remember what I said earlier about standing in the middle of the aisle, unsure of what I have at home? This is where the wasted time comes in.
That list you made should only contain items that you need, not items you already have, unless you’re low on those items. So, a proper inventory plus a list is a recipe for a quick, efficient trip to the store.
You’ll Have Less Stress
I don’t know about you, but I tend to have less stress and more peace when I have a plan for the day ahead. In addition to having a sound morning routine, I also believe that having your meals planned in advance will keep stress at bay.
How many times have you started your day with no idea what you were going to have for breakfast or lunch? Or, you worked all day, only to come home and have no idea what you were going to eat for dinner? This often leads to ordering take out or fast food, causing you to spend money you didn’t plan to spend. Inventory meal planning will help you create a solid meal plan that allows you to save money, time, and avoid stress.
I decided that it might be more helpful for you to see my inventory meal planning process in action. Here’s a recent vlog from my YouTube channel where I also share a quick tutorial of how I use my inventory meal planning spreadsheet. The tutorial starts at 8:40, but feel free to watch the whole video!
How do you meal plan to save money on groceries? Do you make a list based on grocery store ads? Have you ever considered inventory meal planning? Share your meal planning tips below!