The idea behind meal planning is to have plan for the day, week or month of what you will be eating. If you begin to meal plan, you can save money even without using coupons.
The first step to save money with meal planning is not to necessarily plan all the meals you want to eat, but use items that are on sale for the week. That doesn't mean you have to eat meals that you don't like, but what it means is that you may need to be a little bit flexible using what is on sale and what you already have on hand.
Our grocery ads in Colorado run from Wednesday through the following Tuesday. I like to sit down on Thursday evening with the sale ads from all grocery stores close to me and come up with my plan. If I see chicken breasts on sale at a good price that week, I will purchase some and use for a few meal that week. If it is a rock bottom price on chicken breasts, I will stockpile some in my freezer for later use. Click here for more details on stockpiling.
Meal planning doesn't have to be set in stone. When I meal plan I don't like to plan it out for specific days, just have a general plan for the week and pick from the list I've put together what sounds good.
A lot of saving money comes down to planning your meals and shopping and then sticking to it!