Are food expenses burning a hole in your pocket? If so, meal planning to your rescue!
Meal planning is so great because it helps you save hundreds of dollars per year. Additionally, it helps you save a lot of time and effort. In fact, with some practice, you’ll be able to prepare quickly and without stress.
Imagine creating the whole week’s worth of food by spending no more than two hours in the kitchen on Sunday! Sounds good, right?
Today, I’m going to give you a few simple tips and tools to help you plan meals on a budget.
For best results, you need to create a weekly as well as a monthly meal plan.
Wait for a second!
I know what you’re probably thinking. This sounds so complicated.
Trust me, it’s not! Start by creating a general meal plan for the entire month before you plan your weekly meal. This will make the whole process a lot easier.
What I like to do is take my printables and first jot down all the dishes I like to eat or would like to try the following month. Once done, I re-arrange all the meals into my weekly printables. I recommend skipping all those days when you know you’ll be eating out. For instance, circle those days in your printables when you have a birthday party to attend or when you’ll be hanging out with your friends.
This will not only give you a clear idea of how many meals to make on the weekend but also help you buy groceries accordingly.
Opt for recipes that are cheap but high on nutrition. For instance, eggs are extremely healthy and an excellent source of protein. Plus, they’re highly versatile. A carton of eggs will result in a number of dishes such as egg salad, egg sandwich, egg noodles, etc.
Once you have a solid meal plan in place, make a list of groceries you need for the week.
Take into account all the items you already have lying around in your refrigerator or pantry before finalizing your list.
At the store, opt for generic brands. They usually offer the same quality but are a lot cheaper than premium brands.
You can also check out the sales aisle first in order to get the best of the deals.
Another great way to save big on groceries is to redeem coupons, sign up for loyalty programs and purchase different items from different specialty stores.
Keep Your Meal Plan in Place
The key to success is to keep your weekly plan in plain sight.
The last thing you want to do on the weekend is to turn your apartment upside down to search for your meal plan.
I suggest sticking your meal plan to your refrigerator. Believe me, it will make cooking a breeze and help you stick to your meal plan.
When it’s finally the time to cook, whip out your apron and start cooking the meals you planned. Cha-ching! I can already hear the savings!
Meat is one of the most expensive food items on your grocery bill.
Cutting down your meat intake altogether or at least once a week will help you save a huge chunk of money.
Canned fish, peanut butter, tofu, eggs, legumes are great (and cheaper) alternatives to meat.
Consider being a flexitarian to see a huge difference in your monthly spendings.
No matter how much you plan, there will be days when you will end up with leftovers.
Rather than throwing them out, think of how you can reuse them.
For instance, roast chicken with vegetables and rice for Sunday dinner would make a great chicken sandwich for Monday morning. For lunch, you can use the bones to make a delicious soup and add in any leftover rice or vegetables.
Say Yes to Seasonal Recipes
Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re in season.
If you’re wondering what to cook in April, here are a few healthy spring recipes that use seasonal products such as citrus, carrots, broccoli and asparagus.
It’s the best way to include veggies and fruits into your diet to create filling meals for the entire month.
Omelette with veggies
Goat cheese and spinach quiche
Carrot cake pancakes
Greek chickpea salad
Greek yoghurt chicken salad
Broccoli chickpea salad
Dinner and sides:
Spicy and sweet chilli chicken noodles
Maple glazed carrots with pistachios and goat cheese
Garlic sesame roasted asparagus
Parmesan bacon brussels sprouts spaghetti
Treats and snacks:
No make peanut butter and chocolate oatmeal bars
Peanut butter rice Krispie treats
Zucchini lemon blueberry cake with lemon frosting
Left with a big bunch of carrots or celery? Use them all up by making a big pot of soup.
If chicken is on sale, make three batches of lasagna instead of two. Serve one batch for lunch and freeze the remaining two batches in meal-sized portions for another time.
There are a lot of recipes, especially soups that you can make with the remaining ingredients.
The nice part about making soups is that it requires less or no supervision but they’re healthy and filling. Here are some suggestions to use leftover ingredients to create soups:
beef stroganoff soup, corn chowder, chilli bean soup, chicken noodle soup
Making soup from leftovers isn’t only a smart thing to do, but it’s also a great way to make the most of what you have.
This tip comes in handy, especially during the winter and fall months. You can easily make soups from the bits you have in the freezer and refrigerator.
The Wrap Up
With that, we come to the end of this beginner's guide to meal planning on a budget.
We hope these seven tips will help you plan meals on a budget. Please let us know which was your favourite tip or if we missed any tips in the comments section below!
About the Author: Shristi Patni is a content writer and owner of F and B Recipes. She enjoys writing about Intuitive Counseling and Spiritual Mind Treatment. Formerly the Chief Content Officer at Raletta, she is currently working on her second cookbook.
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