From cooking to baking, the possibilities in the kitchen are most definitely ENDLESS! While it is extremely exciting to start cooking in the kitchen, it definitely comes at a cost. In order to help me stay on a budget, I create weekly menus that include ALL of the recipes that I have for a given week. That way, when I head on over to the grocery store, I know exactly what I am going to purchase for that week and it helps me steer away from items that I do not need. Consequentially, I have successfully been able to keep my grocery runs to once a week, which also helps me save money in the long run. In this blog post, I will be sharing how YOU can create your own weekly menu while maintaining your budget.
Use Pinterest, Blogs, & Cookbooks!
Have a preference for vegetarian, keto, gluten-free, or vegan recipes?! Whatever your recipe preferences may be, get on Pinterest and/or research some blogs and cookbooks that have recipes to your liking! In doing so, you can see what recipes are up to par with your cooking ability as well as your budget. In finding budget-friendly recipes, my biggest piece of advice would be to make sure that the majority of ingredients in the recipe you can either find in your pantry already or get pretty cheaply at the grocery store. For instance, you may not want to try a recipe that has you buy all of these ingredients that you do not already have in your pantry such as Worcester sauce and Nutmeg if you are not going to use them for something else. That being said, there are plenty of other recipes out there – even for the same dish – and it is much more worthwhile to spend your money on items that you will use to the fullest rather than dump. Finding inspiration for recipes is always an effective way to garner inspiration for what will be cooking in your kitchen!
Have A Place To Store Your Recipes Of Interest
Once you find a recipe that you would like to try, then save it to your Pinterest board, add a sticky note in a cookbook, or create a document where you can link recipes found directly from blogs. I have also created a Google Document where my friends and followers can all share recipes with one another and gather inspiration. If you would like to join, then fill out the form here! Having a place to store all of your recipes that you want to try will make it easier for you to find them, as you’re crafting your weekly menus. When you have found a plethora of recipes that you would like to try, then the opportunities to spice up your kitchen will be endless in a convenient way!
Plan Your Menu Based On What’s Going On Each Day
I cannot say this ENOUGH: plan your weekly menu based on what’s going on each day of the week. If your Monday evening is busy with meetings, then definitely plan for something simple that night or cook something the weekend before. The same idea goes for any other day of the week. Additionally, it is important to make note of days that you plan to go out to eat at restaurants and/or order takeout. In my family, we usually order takeout on Friday’s, so mark those days as having takeout for dinner. Similarly, if you plan to get breakfast, lunch, or dinner with some friends, then mark those on your menu calendar too. That way, when you plan your menu based on each day, you will be better set to create a menu that meets your day’s needs as well as your budget’s.
Shop Based On What’s On Sale!
What time is it?! It’s time to sign up for your favorite grocery stores’ rewards programs! Lucky for you, each of your favorite grocery stores will have coupons on items that are on sale for that week. Also, most grocery stores conveniently have apps that you can use to scan in these rewards when you go shopping and see what’s on sale before you go. Stores that have these reward program apps include Target, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and Wegman’s. Excitedly enough, Instacart also has exclusive coupons to the app, which allows many of us who feel nervous about going grocery shopping in person to steal get our deals from our couch. That being said, my biggest suggestion would be to look at the items that your favorite grocery store is having a good deal on that week. If you see something that you enjoy that is on sale, then get it that week to save yourself some cash in the long run! You may even want to stock up if it will save you a lot of money in the long run to do so! Like clothing stores, grocery stores have sales too, however, they can be a lot more challenging to find – you just have to do your research.
I have ALWAYS cooked more for dinner, so that I could just heat up something simple for lunch. I am also one that gets really hungry in between classes, so having something quick to heat up is great for me. Meal prep is also a great thing to do for dinners and/or lunches throughout the week. Not only does cooking ahead save you some time in the long run, but it also saves you money!
Get Groceries One Day a Week
Typically, I plan out my weekly menus the day of or two days before I head to the grocery store. Usually, I designate Sunday as my groceries day. That way, I know to have my Weekly Menu and Grocery List ready to go to get what I need for the week. In addition, I will normally know what meals I will be cooking for that week based on what is going on during the week – whether it be dinners out with friends, a gathering at someone’s apartment, or I have a hectic schedule that calls for some meal prepping. Whatever the case may be, having my grocery list set in stone and ready to go every Sunday helps me to get what I need to conquer my week and budget.
As someone who LOVES to cook while maintaining a budget, I hope that these tips will serve you well in the kitchen. Most importantly, cook meals that YOU and your roommates will each enjoy. Having fun and enjoying delicious meals together, no matter the cost, is the most important thing. Here’s to some delicious and budget-friendly meals to come!
XOXO – Katie <3