Contributed by Stephanie W.

One of the best ways to save money is making your own meals at home instead of eating out or ordering in.  Or at least that is what you think.  Unless you prepare properly, you could wind up spending just as much making your own food as eating out. Here is what you can do to save money.

Plan your meals ahead.  If you sit down once a week and think of what you want to eat, you can create a shopping list.  I flip through my cookbooks and choose my dinners for the week (there are usually leftovers for lunch the next day). But don’t just stop at dinner, think of snacks, breakfasts and lunches.  Allow yourself a certain amount of ‘outside’ meals as well.

Cook all you meals in one day.  You can make a tray of lasagna or roast a chicken and then eat portions all week for lunch.  Or you can…

Freeze some portions for later.  If you make a bunch of mini meat loafs instead of one big one you can freeze a few to keep aside for later when you are too tired to cook.  All you have to do is take one out in the morning and it will be defrosted by dinner.

Plan around store sales.  You can either grab some fliers or look them up on line.  Use the sale items as inspiration for your meal plans, so there is less pressure to come up with ideas.  You can also pick up staple items in bulk when they are on sale.

Compare prices and skip the coupons.  Check out the cost per ounce or pound and purchase what costs less.  I find that if I compare the price of a store brand item to a name brand item, the store brand item is cheaper, even when coupons are involved.

How do you save money on groceries? We invite you to share your ideas in the comment box below.