One of the greatest tips we give people in financial coaching is “use cash envelopes” for categories like groceries until you develop a strong habit of sticking to the budget. But for many of us cash alone is not enough because controlling every variable in a category as large as food spending is a very complex task. That’s why my wife and I use a Meal Plan Sheet. It’s simple to use. It helps us control our spending at the store. It helps us control our eating habits (and that’s a healthy thing). It helps us control our desire to eat out. And it gives our kids an opportunity to participate in the planning process. We simply tell them we’re planning meals for the week and ask them, “What do you want on Tuesday night?”
When you get used to using this sheet you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it!