Do you struggle to think of fresh ideas for your weekly meal plan or monthly meal plan? Are you constantly having to run to the grocery store to re-stock on ingredients for dinner? Do you wish it was easier to stick to your diet or nutritional strategy? All of these reasons are why budget meal planning might be for you! In this article, we’re showing you how to meal plan on a budget!
Does Meal Planning Help You Save Money?
Weekly meal planning is an effective way to save time by planning all of your meals ahead. Not only does this make it easier to prepare meals and stick to a diet, but it can also save you a lot of money! You buy only the food you need on your shopping list, and limit the food you waste. It also gives you the opportunity to plan meals that are inexpensive, encourage healthy eating habits, and avoid take-out meals.
Here are our top tips for meal planning on a budget.
Top Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget
Set a Time to Plan & Stick to It
First up, you need to set a plan and stick to it. Effective meal planning is all about picking a time to menu plan, and turning it into a habit. You need to pick a day and time that you know is going to work for you, and you need to make sure that you stick to it. Trust us, it becomes a lot easier to meal plan if it is a habit that you can rely on.
Set a day and time, and settle on a method of planning meals. We recommend you break it down by date, and separate each date into the healthy meals you need to plan. This way, you have a meal schedule prepared, and can stock up on all the ingredients you will need to prep meals for the week. This allows you to only buy what you need on your grocery shop, which saves a ton of money on food waste and overall grocery spending.
Don’t Skip Meals!
No, we don’t mean “skip” meals in the traditional sense. We mean don’t skip out on your plan! Sometimes there is the temptation to skip prep and take the easier option of grabbing takeout. Try to resist this urge, as takeout can end up being the most expensive part of your food cost. For a budget meal option, make a plan and hold yourself accountable! You’d be shocked at the money you save by cutting takeout out of your food budget.
Know the Cost of Ingredients
The first step is to know your overall food cost (or at least have a rough idea!). What this does is it allows you to estimate the cost of your grocery list. You’d be surprised how some healthy food can really put a dent in your grocery bill! So if you stay aware of costs, and take some time to really survey price in the store, then you can save a whole lot of money over time. Of course, this is a skill that becomes easier and easier the more you shop.
Buy in Bulk
Another simple tip is to buy in bulk! Bulk buying is one of the easiest ways to save money with grocery shopping. However, only buy products in bulk that you are sure you will eat! If you buy in bulk and it goes bad or you don’t eat it, then you really aren’t saving much money. Take a look at your meal plans and look for common ingredients. If the ingredient is quite frequent, and isn’t too quick to spoil, then stock up!
This also saves you additional trips to the store.
Plan for Meals That You Like
Another way to save money is to plan meals that you actually enjoy! This means planning tasty meals, but also adding variety so you won’t get bored. You might be wondering how this is actually going to save you any money. Basically, if you are planning meals that you enjoy, then it makes it much more likely that you will actually stick to your meal plan! No skipping meals to get takeout, because you’ll be more than happy with the meal you have planned at home.
Buy Ingredients, Not Dishes
Next up, avoid buying prepped ingredients when you can. You save a lot of money by buying ingredients and preparing them into dishes. Buying food from the prepared section of the grocery store will cost you a lot more than making it yourself!
Know Your Diet
Next up, in order to plan effectively you need to know your nutritional and dietary goals. Meal planning should be done in accordance with your diet. Not only does this allow you to lead a healthier lifestyle, but it makes it so that your meal plans are sufficient to maintain that lifestyle.
If you under-plan, then you may not buy enough food, and you might have to rely on a takeout meal to fill you up! Make a detailed nutritional plan before you start meal planning that is specific to your lifestyle and activity levels.
Forget The Desserts& The Soda!
Another easy way to save money is to skip the desserts and the soda! Not only is this a healthier choice, it also saves you a lot of money on things you don’t need! Let’s face it, soda is never going to be part of any dietary outlines. This isn’t to say you can never treat yourself, of course! But try to moderate your intake of these things, and your wallet and your waistline will thank you.
Have Good Containers
Finally, invest in some good containers. This is especially important if you are meal prepping, and thinking ahead for the week. Containers make it so much easier to store your food, and freeze it if necessary. This makes it much easier to stick to your meal plan. Additionally, reusable containers will save you money from not having to constantly replace them.
Thanks for checking out our guideto meal planning on a budget!