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The Value of Meal Planning

In my recent podcast, The Value of Meal Planning, (you can LISTEN HERE) I discuss the benefits of meal planning. The main benefits being a reduction in evening stress and saving money! Depending on how often your family eats out, gets take-out, etc will dictate how much the potential savings can be. Since numbers are often easier to visualize than to just hear, I am breaking down the numbers I mentioned in the podcast.



My first example was a family of 4 getting take out. The family all gets chicken Alfredo from Olive Garden at $18.99 per entree for a total of $75.96. On the flip side, if the same family made the chicken Alfredo at home (including salad and breadsticks), it would cost them a total of $25-$30 depending on jar or homemade sauce. Keep in mind that amount is with none of the groceries being purchased on special or in bulk, that is regular retail pricing at my local grocery store. Averaging out the at home cost results in a savings of about $49 for JUST ONE MEAL!!


Now, say you get take out like this once a week and you eliminated that by eating at home. If you did that once a week for the entire year you would have a savings of $2,548! Now say you kept up with eating at home over a 10 year period and invested that savings (we will assume an average rate of return of a realistic 7%). After 10 years you would have almost $37,000!!! What if you get take out a lot and you eliminated two nights a week? That's $5,096 savings a year and almost $74,000 over the 10 year period! And what if you get take out all the time and eliminated it 4 nights a week? That's a yearly savings of $10,192 and a whopping $147,000 over the 10 year period!!


If you are wondering how to pay for college, pay off your own student loans, pay off your credit card debt, etc, then changing your take out habit could be your answer!


What if you tend to just go through a drive through and get a less expensive meal? Let's compare the same family of 4! Family of 4 goes to Chick Fil A and gets 4 chicken sandwich with fries meals. They are $7.89 each for a total of $31.56. If you were to make chicken sandwiches and fries at home the total would be about $10. That is with Ore-Ida fries, Tyson chicken patties, and brioche buns. (All prices are regular retail and are not specials or bulk items) So, that is a nearly $22 difference. Let's see what savings that creates if you opt to make it at home. Once a week is $1,144 in yearly savings. If you did that for 10 years and invested it (same 7%) you would have over $16,000. Twice a week would be annual savings of $2,288 and a 10 year investment of over $33,000. Four times a would be annual savings of $91,52 and a 10 year investment of over $132,000.


If you are eating out multiple times a week, this simple lifestyle change could greatly better your financial future! Whether you use the savings to pay off debt, save for college, or save for retirement; it's an easy change that is LIFE CHANGING!


Note all prices are from grocery stores, Olive Garden, and Chick Fil A located in zip code 28557. These prices could differ slightly in other areas. Last note to add: All information is considered educational and is not considered financial advice.

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