How To Save on Groceries With Reverse Meal Planning

In the ongoing effort to save you both time and money, I wanted to post this great article from the site, Six on a Budget.  We are all always looking to hack our way to grocery savings, bringing down our monthly tab.  How many of you have tried reverse meal planning as a means to save money?  Read on for more!

The Reverse Meal Plan by Melanie Anderson:

CALL your local grocery store.

ASK what time they daily clearance meat, bakery and produce items.

SHOP from clearance.

THEN meal plan from those purchases. Happy shopping! is one of many helpful sites that allows you to enter the ingredients you have and it will generate recipes from those ingredients.

Putting The Reverse Meal Plan Into Action

How We Use This Plan To Save $$$

One time a week we generally have a wonky meal night – that might be French toast for dinner or garlic butter noodles or something meat free, but generally, it’s meat every night.

What’s the secret?

Call your grocer, and ask each department what time they clearance food. Shop as near to that time of day (I recommend one to two times per week to make this plan work best). THEN plan what your meals will be that week.

How It Works for Me

Be sure to not waste food. Re-use leftovers. Amazing how many leftovers can be stretched or repurposed with added vegetables, rice, tortillas, pasta, grains, etc.

Clearance, clearance, clearance is huge.
A couple times a week, I swing by my grocery store (Ralph’s – a Kroger national chain store) and grab a loaf of clearanced bread or specialty bakery items for 59 to 99 cents (or you can grab many loaves and freeze them).
I grab dozens and dozens of eggs from Walmart (which, other than Aldi, has proved to consistently have the least expensive eggs. All of a sudden, that cheat night, when you’re too tired to cook, doesn’t have to be an expensive dinner night, it can be French toast til everyone’s stuffed for under $2 to feed the whole family. Add a bag of clearanced salad for 79 cents, and it’s cheap, easy and fast for those nights when you have no energy or time.

(Every grocery store I’ve been to has a clearance section for bags of salad, vegetables and other produce. It doesn’t look shiny and gorgeous perhaps, but it tastes fine. If you ever buy it and it’s off, grocery stores as a general rule easily accept returns of bad produce. This is also how I buy organic pears and apples and bell peppers for 99 cents per bag – it’s clearanced.)

What’s the Question You’re Asking Yourself?

Don’t ask what we want that night, but what we have. Maybe I’m not in the *mood* for chicken tonight but that’s what I took out to defrost for tonight’s meal. Make it into something delicious! The Food Network has some great recipe ideas for making delicious meals.

There are meals my husband cooks up for under $3 to feed all 6 of us. He makes such scrumptious food! We reverse meal plan, so instead of planning what we want to make and then buying the food for it, we buy the cuts of meat and vegetables that have been clearanced and THEN meal plan around that.

It’s dirt cheap!
6 of us for $233/month has been such a dream. Commonly, I can get one pound of bacon for 99 cents. Loaves of bread commonly clearanced for 59 cents per loaf.

Finally, don’t waste leftovers. Don’t throw away food. Re-purpose, reuse.
You can do this or you can do some version of this – whatever suits your family! Even if it’s a tiny version of this, it can save you a lot on your grocery budget each month regardless of most dietary restrictions – I’ve seen organic meats and produce, etc. just as frequently as I’ve seen non-organic items being clearanced.
You can do this! What’s been the most exhilarating take away for our family is that by saving money on something as forgettable as groceries, we can save money to spend on much more unforgettable things like family travels. What’s the reason you find WORTH it to say NO to what you want NOW in order to say YES to what you want MOST?

What’s your take readers?  Is this something you already do?  What strategies do you have for saving time and money on groceries? Feel free to share in the comments below!