How to Meal Plan to Reduce Waste and Save Money

With minimalism, you’ll find that you want to purchase less in every area of your life. Groceries should be no exception. Meal planning not only allows you streamline your dinner time routine, but you can also save tons of money.

Having lived in a minimalist lifestyle for almost two years now, I often find that the grocery store is my downfall. Although we adopted veganism long before we found minimalism I still struggle with purchasing food that we don’t need. The worst part is that now most grocery stores sell everything you could need – toilet paper, cleaning supplies, vitamins, makeup – you name it and they probably sell it.

My husband and I have contemplated the best way to avoid the grocery store as much as possible yet still get those great deals. We love cooking from scratch and have a list of meals that we love to make that are very inexpensive. But are they really that cheap if I go to the store and buy five other things that we don’t necessarily need?

There are several ways to reduce expenses and waste when it comes to eating like a minimalist.

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Meal Planning from Scratch

If you’re more of the control freak hands-on type person like I am, you will enjoy the process of meal planning from scratch. Meal planning at home uses a variety of tools in your cooking arsenal so that you are as efficient as you can be.

Pantry Inventory.

Before you do anything else or bring more food into your home, you’ll want to do a thorough inventory of all the food in the house. Deep freezer, fridge, cupboards, pantry – all of it. Divide your list into different categories like frozen veg/fruit, meat, dairy, condiments, spices, staples (pasta, rice, etc) and write it down.

For more on pantry inventory and a FREE printable, visit my post HERE.

Recipe bank.

After you’ve done all of your inventorying, ask your family what their favorite meals are that you cook. Write them down and list out the main ingredients that you normally have to shop for. If they love chicken enchiladas, write out tortillas, chicken, cheese. This would be the case if you have the spices and tomato paste on hand to make the enchilada sauce.

Now that you have your family favorites, add in recipes that you like but don’t make as often. They shouldn’t be complicated or thought of “special occasion” recipes. One that I love but don’t make often is falafel. I LOVE it, but for whatever reason we just don’t make it as frequently as I would like. You’ll write out the ingredients like you did before.

Making the plan.

You’ve done the inventory and the recipe bank, it’s time to plan! To meal plan with as little waste as possible, you need to visualize what ingredients the recipes have in common.

For example, we normally make quinoa black bean burgers, lentil sloppy joes, and lentil bolognese all in the same week. Why? Because the burgers and the sloppy joes are both served on buns and I don’t want to buy buns more than once. I’m also able to cook the lentils in bulk (2 cups dry) for both the sloppy joes and the bolognese. As a bonus, the carrots that go into the pasta I also serve as a side! Score!

Making the list.

With the meals all planned out, it is time to make the shopping list. This should be easy since you will pull all of the ingredients from your Recipe Bank onto your shopping list. Make sure not to duplicate anything!

By planning meals together with like ingredients, this should reduce what you buy each week. You still have to think about breakfast and lunch. Certainly, you can batch cook like we do, or serve sandwiches. The choice is yours!

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Boxed Meal Services.

Services like Hello Fresh are great for families on the go. Unlike Platejoy, Hello Fresh delivers pre-portioned ingredients right to your door on a weekly (or bi-weekly) basis. There is not a meal plan to think about, rather you just select the weeks you want meals delivered.

We love Hello Fresh! When we both worked jobs with crazy schedules, it was so nice to come home and already have the ingredients for dinner portioned out. The recipes are simple to follow and are often time things I would have never thought to cook.

Yes, it comes in a box with Styrofoam and an ice pack, but if your city recycles Styrofoam or if you re-purpose it, you can reduce the waste of the service.

By using our referral code, you’ll receive $40 off your first order! It’s like getting a week for FREE.

No matter what option you choose, you’ll find that your dinners have become easier. With less stress on your plate, you can enjoy more time together with your family.

If you’re a meal planning pro or have tips to reduce waste while preparing meals, let me know in the comments!

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  1. When I shop, I plan meals around what meats I’m going to buy. Since they come in larger packages than we need for one meal, I plan several meals around them so I use everything up at the end of two weeks. Plus, I cook enough for two meals, so I minimize cooking time during the week! Thanks for your insight!

    1. Yes, I love cooking enough for two meals. So much time is saved!

  2. Danica Anne Panganiban

    I am a minimalist too and just two weeks ago, I started eating Vegan. It is quite time consuming to think of which recipe to try. I Will be checking Platejoy out. It sounds a good fit for my lifestyle. =)

    1. Great! They have some really great plant based recipes. We’ve been vegan for four years this May. It’s been challenging but well worth it!

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