I’ve put together my best tips for meal planning for when you need to keep the budget as low as possible.
Meal Planning Tips
Have your favorite recipes available
Gone are the days when all of our recipes were stacked neatly on a shelf of recipe books.
That’s okay! Just know where to find your favorites.
I use a combination of Pinterest, Facebook, emails, recipe books, and my own recipes.
Consider the ingredients you have on hand
So often we buy food before eating what we actually have in the pantry.
Consider what you have, get creative, and see what you can make using the ingredients you already have on hand.
Keep meals and snacks simple
Decide on your “meal template,” and let that help you plan out your meals. For dinner, I tend to stick to meat + veggie + starch with fruit for dessert.
When trying to keep the grocery bill down, try having sandwiches for lunch instead of eating out.
Try snacking on fruits and nuts instead of buying several different bags and boxes of “convenience foods.”
Your meals do not have to be complicated, nor do they have to be brand new recipes full of tons of ingredients.
Keep it simple.
Plan your meals
Figure out what you want to cook and on which day.
Create a list of the exact ingredients you’ll need. Try to use ingredients that you already have on hand.
Take your calendar into consideration. Plan your easiest, quickest meals for your busiest days, and more involved meals on the days you know you’ll have the time.
I tend to cook bigger meals or try new recipes on Saturdays or Sundays when my husband is home to help with the kiddos.
Designate days to make meal planning easier
Create a list of designated days to spark ideas for you while meal planning.
Here’s a list of ideas:
Picnic Night (Easy finger foods)
Sheet Pan Dinner
Meat & Veggies
Freezer Meal (For if you have a stock of freezer meals saved up.)
Stir Fry Night
Soup or Stew
New Recipe Night
Treat Yo’ Self (Family favorite meal)
Popcorn and Ice Cream (This is a favorite for Friday nights during the summer!)
Create your grocery list throughout the week
In addition to the necessary ingredients that you’ll need for recipes, keep a running list of odds and ends items that you need. This can include toiletries, home maintenance items, beauty items, or kitchen staples such as olive oil or flour.
Be deliberate about what you add to the list. Buy only those items that you’ll need for the next week or two.
Buy in bulk
Consider buying items that you use often in bulk, such as paper plates, paper towels, frozen chicken breast, rice, etc.
You’ll tend to save a bit of money when you buy in bulk and you won’t have to purchase it every week or so.
Use a grocery pick up or delivery service
This keeps impulse shopping to a minimum, as well as saving you some time and effort! Win-win! It’s definitely a must if you have kids!