Reverse Meal Planning

I love to cook.  I love looking up new recipes to try, experimenting with different ingredients, and trying to think like a chef as I throw things together.  But sometimes that causes us to spend more money than we wanted–at the grocery to get the needed ingredients, or eating out because my experiments didn’t go well.  Oops.

This month my husband and I are challenging ourselves to spend less money on food, both eating out and at the grocery.  So, I decided to try something new this week based on a tip I saw on a Facebook moms group I’m in.  Instead of making a meal plan and then going to the grocery, I went to the grocery first.

No list. No meal plan.  It felt SO backwards to me–how will I know how much food I need?  What if I don’t buy enough?  What if I buy a bunch of random things and then won’t know how to put it all together?  It was so foreign to me to go shopping without a list, but it ended up being really fun.

First of all, I needed to have a little more faith in myself–in my knowledge of the staples we use up every week and of my ability to throw foods together to make something yummy.  I’ve been cooking and following food blogs for years now, and I’ve got a good arsenal of information in my brain to help me.

So, I got the pantry staples and produce staples that we use up every week, and then I shopped for produce and meats that were on sale.  I had already looked through my grocery’s app to look at the weekly ad and their digital coupon options and downloaded the ones I thought I might use–which means I skipped the ones for highly processed, unhealthy foods.  I’m trying to save money, but also still eat healthy.  We’re not suddenly eating unhealthy foods because there are more coupons for those kinds of foods.

I ended up with the list you see below.  I was AMAZED at how much less I spent.  We got good, healthy foods (although you can see some of the unhealthy treats my husband picked up) and spent about $30 less than normal.  I saved almost $25 between sales and coupons!  I was shocked at how much I saved this way.

 

So with these ingredients, these are the meals we made this week:

Gluten-free spaghetti with ground turkey (with sauce from my freezer)

Clean-eating sloppy joes

Smoked whole chicken with green beans and roasted red potatoes (this made a ton of food that we ate off of for several meals!)

Clean eating taco bowl with ground beef

 

It was actually a lot easier to come up with these meals than I thought it would be, and we had enough food to last us almost every meal all week.  We did eat out a couple of times, but that was in our budget, too.

I’m excited about trying this reverse meal planning more to see how much I can get and how much I can save!  Do you always shop with a list, or have you tried this way of shopping before?

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