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12 Meal Planning Tips That’ll Save You Lot’s Of Money

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12 Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget - Everything Abode

It’s a growing myth…

That eating nutritious food is just for people who can afford it. That isn’t the truth!

You can enjoy nutritious food on a budget with a good strategy. Planning meals in advance are one of the best ways to save on food costs.

Meal planning saves both time, money, and eliminates food waste as well.

There are easy ways to create a meal plan that is both delicious and inexpensive.

By following a few easy beginner tips, you can create low-cost meals that taste great week after week.

Here are 12 tips for meal planning while sticking to your weekly budget!

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12 Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget

12 Budget Meal Planning Tips That'll Save You Money - Everything Abode

1. Start With Your Existing Ingredients.

Check your cupboards to see what ingredients you already have and start there. In many cases, people buy more than what they need or purchase items that are already in their cabinets.

Check for staples like rice, flour, eggs, and beans and start planning from your existing ingredients.

Do a complete inventory of everything that you have on hand. Count every item that you have and start the planning from there.

In many cases, you will already have enough items in your home to plan complete meals without buying anything extra, so doing a complete inventory periodically will help you to save money when planning your meals.

2. Use Cheap Filler Foods.

Beans pack a protein punch and are relatively inexpensive. They are filling and healthy and will go a long way in rounding out your meals. Rice is also inexpensive and can be used multiple times in your meal planning.

Beans and rice is a complete meal, providing both protein and carbohydrates for a low price. Eggs are also inexpensive, so consider adding fresh eggs to your grocery list to save money.

3. Plan Your Meals Around Sales.

Check for which foods are on sale before you begin your planning. There are often good deals that will allow you to purchase food at a discount and use it in your meal planning. Find deals on two for one items and use them multiple times throughout the week.

4. Plan a few meals you already know how to make.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel whenever you are meal planning. Add at least 1 meal that you know like the back of your hand, so you are more inspired for cooking (and don’t succumb to the expensive take out food).

Good meal planners know that sticking to what they already know (especially in the beginning) is the ultimate way they are going to win their week with cooking. 

So, choose recipes that the whole family will like (that you know how to make) to make the rest of your meal planning a breeze. 

5. Plan Meatless Meals.

Meat can often be a costly ingredient when it comes to meal planning, so plan at least one meal that does not include meat. Substitute meat with a protein like beans, eggs, or nuts. Tofu, peanut butter, and canned fish are also good substitutes.

6. Double up to save extra money.

We all know that going out for lunch every day can be a bad idea for our health and for our wallets but some of us still do!

The average American household spends $3,000 each year on dining alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And this is a lot of money!

The easiest way around this (when it comes to meal planning) is to double that recipe you are making for dinner, so you can get some leftovers to freeze and pack away. 

If you’re going to eat dinner anyway, you might as well stock up with a backup meal to replace those extra lunch dates.

7. Use In-Season Fruits and Vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they are in season, so plan your meals around these seasonal items. Avoid high-priced out of season ingredients in your planning to save money.

8. Use the Same Foods Multiple Times.

A roast chicken can go a long way in providing food for multiple meals. You can make a chicken salad on Monday, chicken sandwiches on Tuesday, and chicken pot pie on Wednesday.

Take the remnants of chicken from the bone and make chicken soup by adding in some pasta and a few vegetables.

9. Create a Map.

Writing down your plan in advance will help you to avoid food waste. Plan out how many servings you will need for each food. You can use a blank monthly calendar to write out which meals you will eat on which day.

Think about how you can cook larger batches and spread out your meals across multiple days. By creating a written meal plan, you will be less likely to buy duplicate ingredients or waste food.

10.  Plan for all Three Meals and Snacks.

When most people think of meal planning, they think of dinner. While dinner is typically the most expensive meal, breakfast, lunches, and snacks can add up. Plan cheap breakfasts like oatmeal, dry cereal, pastries, and fruit. You can save money by filling up on breakfast and lunch and having light dinners.

11. Shop With a List And Cash.

One of the main ways that people end up blowing their food budget is to shop without a list and to use plastic to pay for food.

By shopping with a list, you will not only make sure you get all of the foods you came for but avoid forgetting to buy an ingredient and having to return to the store.

Shopping with cash means you can’t blow your budget, so this cuts back on buying impulse items or foods that are not on the list. For some people, shopping online is ideal because it allows them to see a running total as they add items to the cart.

12. Get Everyone Involved. 

Lastly, if you are planning meals for the family, get their input into what items to include in the meal plan. It doesn’t pay to plan out a weeks’ worth of food if your family won’t eat it. By involving everyone in the meal planning, you will ensure that you maximize your food budget while minimizing food waste.


Creating a meal plan on a budget is no easy feat. Between the planning and the shopping, the prep and the cooking, it can take several hours to plan and prep meals for the entire family.

By planning in advance, working with inexpensive foods, and getting everyone involved, you will make meal planning on a budget a breeze.

See Also:

11 Clever Ways to Save Extra Money on Groceries - Everything Abode

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