Indiana Daily Student

Plan ahead to get the best meals

--image courtesy of coupons.com
--image courtesy of coupons.com

Like any normal, 22 year-old girl, I love shopping. And being a foodie, I love grocery shopping.

The problem with grocery shopping is that, like any form of shopping, it’s easy to buy too much and forget what’s hanging in your closet. I mean, pantry.

But to get the most of your food, it’s important to plan what you’re going to be eating.

Before you do your grocery shopping for the week, sit down and look at what you have in the fridge, freezer and pantry. Make a list of items that you need to have and then go shopping so you don’t end up buying more oatmeal when you have a full canister at home. I also like to look at the weekly ads to see where I can get the best deals.

I used to not meal plan as regularly as I should. But then I realized how much money I was wasting buying more food than I needed. I knew that this was a problem, but didn’t realize the severity of it until I was moving out of my apartment and had to take five boxes of brown sugar with me.

Yes that’s right, five boxes of brown sugar. I don’t remember a time in my life when I used brown sugar at such a high volume that I needed to stockpile boxes of it. This is just a symptom of what happens when you’re unaware of what food you have.

Another tip is if you’re shopping and see an item that you might or might not have, hold off on buying it. I’ve had many instances of buying doubles and then being too lazy to return the item. (Maybe this is where my excess brown sugar came from?)

Another helpful element of meal planning is that it forces you to use up what you buy instead of eating on a whim and forgetting about that pound of strawberries you picked up at the store. If you plan out to use what you purchased, then you won’t waste money buying something and only eating half of it. I hate throwing food away, especially when I know this could’ve been prevented by some careful planning.

Planning, for most people, is not a fun activity, but it’s necessary if you want to be as efficient and frugal with your grocery shopping. After a few weeks, you’ll realize how much better it is to plan your meals instead of hitting up the store every few days.

Just make a spreadsheet in Excel for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Write out five or so ideas for each meal, based on the food you already have, and then write out your list. If you have a weekly budget allotted for food, estimate the cost of everything to make sure that you won’t go over.

Oh, and make sure to not to buy too much brown sugar.

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