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Shop with a plan and dinner's in hand!
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Shop With a Plan and Dinner’s In Hand!

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Our friend Sara is the thoughtful talent behind the Go Gingham blog. During Earth Month, she’s sharing with us some of the ways that her family has found to enjoy “the sweet spot where green and frugal living come together.” First we asked how she conquered their dinnertime dilemmas — you know, the dreaded nightly “What’s for dinner?” conversation. Sara does it with a plan. A meal plan, that is. Here’s how she plans to make her grocery cart count. Sounds efficient, effective…and kinda delicious! Here, we’ll let her tell it…

Tired of wondering what’s for dinner? Feeling bad about wasting food? Frustrated by daily runs to the store? Sometimes the daily dinnertime dilemmas can be overwhelming.

My family’s solution? Meal planning. It takes 10 minutes — and it’s the biggest saver in our food budget. Planning meals for the week ahead helps us keep our shopping trips strategic: we buy only what we need, so we don’t waste money or throw food away. Cooking at home is easy because we have the right ingredients for healthy meals.

Here’s how we put our plan into action every week:

  1. Plan out: We meal plan every Sunday night. Looking at the week ahead, we see when we’re busy (and need leftovers), and when there’s time to cook.
  2. Check in: Once our plan is made, we check fridge, freezer and pantry for what’s on hand.
  3. Write it down: Then we make our list. There’s a list on the refrigerator, too; if we run out of an item (and who doesn’t?), anyone can add it to the list.
  4. Hug the perimeter: Reusable bags in hand, we head straight for the produce section. Our plan keeps us close to the fruits, vegetables and bulk bins, where we buy exactly what we need.
  5. Limit boxes & cans: By avoiding packaged goods, we’re eating real, whole foods — and skipping artificial ingredients, preservatives and wasteful packaging.

When we have a plan, we eat healthier at home — and we spend the time (and money) we save on activities we enjoy as a family. What matters more than that?

Sara Tetreault is the creator of Go Gingham - Stylishly Frugal Living, a great source of inspiring tips, tricks and techniques to save money, resources and time. Find her on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

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