How many times have you gone to the grocery store, left $100 with the cashier, come home, put everything away and felt like you have no food in the house?
One of the problems we have when it comes to visiting the grocery store is that we go with no plan, purchase random items and then try to make something of them when we get home.
There is a simple reason why the most efficient kitchens are restaurant kitchens. Chefs don't just buy groceries and then figure out what to make from there. They create a menu and then purchase the ingredients needed to make those dishes.
So, run your own kitchen like a restaurant kitchen and make a plan. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down with your grocery store's weekly sales ad. Start by reviewing the meat or fish items that are on sale (unless you are a vegetarian). Write down a few meals you can cook based on those meat items. Then, go through the rest of the ad and decide what side dishes you can create out of the other items on sale.
Once you have created your menu, find the recipes for those meals and see if there is anything else you need to purchase to make them. This is a crucial step.
If this thought process is brand new to you, start off slowly. Decide to make just one or two meals this week. As you gain confidence, see if you can do this for all of the meals you make at home including breakfast and lunch. In our house, we make sandwiches based off of the deli meats that are on sale that week. Also, if eggs are priced particularly well, then egg salad will be the sandwich of choice for that week. You get the idea.
More important than planning your menu around what is on sale, also remember what you already have in your house. If you have vegetables that are on the verge of going bad, make sure the first meal you make includes those vegetables. The more you can use of what you already have in the house, the more you save. Remember, the most expensive food is the food you throw away.
In addition to planning your meals, plan leftovers. On Sunday night when I have plenty of time to enjoy cooking, I always cook enough to ensure there are leftovers. On Monday, when we get home after 7:00 pm, I am happy to know that we can look forward to a healthy, home cooked meal of leftovers.
Saving money by cooking at home is one of the best (and easiest) ways to positively impact your financial life.