First, I want you to write down 5-7 of your favorite plant-based proteins.
For me that is:
TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein
Now I match each protein to a day in the week. It’s okay to repeat your favorites or leave one or two days open to eat out or use up leftovers.
Once I have my plant-based proteins set, I go off of what I know I need to use up in the fridge.
I like to keep a running list on my fridge of items I know have to be used up soon. This has made a huge difference for me and my family.
We have saved a ton of food from the compost pile, and we have saved a ton of money from not repurchasing items I already have on hand or having to replace food that has gone bad before we were able to eat it.
Watch this video to see how I have organized my menu planning system on a white board attached to my fridge.
Looking at what needs to be used first starts the ball rolling for me to come up with a menu for the week.
3 Rules to Always save money at the grocery store:
Use what you have first
Shop the sales to complete your menu
Buy 2 (or more) of items you use on a regular basis that are on sale like coffee, condiments, etc.
Only shop once per week
Use online ordering and grocery pick-up to save you from impulse buys and to give you a chance to really review your order and be sure you actually need everything in your cart before checking out. It’s 100x easier to put back items online then it is at the till!
The next step is to check out the store flyers and see what’s on sale that week.
I have a rule to only go shopping once per week.
This prevents me from impulse buying too often, but it also allows me to use the weekly store sales to my advantage, stocking up on items that we use regularly when they go on sale.
Once I’ve included menu items from the weekly flyer, I’ll go ahead and fill in the rest.
Here’s a mini example for you:
I know that in my fridge I have to use up tofu, brown rice, corn on the cob, celery and cucumber.
I see that in my weekly flyer lettuce and bbq sauce is on sale.
I plan to make bbq tofu with a side of corn on the cob, brown rice and a salad.
This way I can use up the tofu, rice, corn and veggies from the fridge plus I get to save on the cost of the bbq sauce and lettuce.
I make it a rule to only plan 7 days in advance because life and plans change!
Plus I usually leave a few days blank to allow for meals out or to use up leftovers.
Most of our supper leftovers are used for lunch in our house, but if you work outside of the home or prefer a lighter meal for your lunch then planning at least 2 days per week to use leftovers for dinner is going to save you a ton of money and time in the kitchen!
Time-saving menu planning tips:
Write a grocery list as you use items throughout the week
Keep all of your menu planning lists in one place that is convenient to update, like on the fridge
Cook once, eat twice or more-use your leftovers!
Batch cook rice, beans and other staples and freeze half to use in a meal later on
Order groceries online and pick up at the store
Prep veggies when you get home all at once so you make it easy to eat them
One of the biggest time saving tips I have for you is to keep a running list of the items you use from the fridge, freezer and pantry to cook throughout the week. As you use items add them onto the list for your next grocery shop.
This is huge for me!
It’s so much easier to have my list ready to go on shop day then to have to rack my brain or go through the cupboards and freezer each week trying to figure out what I’ll need.
I keep this list right next to my menu on the fridge.
You can use this super cheap roll of whiteboard sticker to recreate my menu planning center on your fridge!
Just use permanent marker to create your lines, days of the week and titles for “use first” items and “running low” items, then use a dry erase marker to fill in the rest week to week.
If you’re new to plant-based eating and you want a little extra help, be sure to check out my Zero to Vegan DIY program. It’s super affordable and It takes you from zero experience cooking in a vegan kitchen to an expert in no time!
Let us know down below in the comments what your favorite grocery store hacks are so we can all learn!
Here’s a pin for your board so you can come back to this post when you’re ready to put your plan into action!
Megan Kerry is a Vegan Lifestyle Educator and Licensed Practical Nurse. Her content focuses on vegan recipes and ethical living. She is a mom of four children, a long time vegan, and an even longer time foodie. She loves veganizing any and all dishes and sharing her recipes and lifestyle tips with all of you!