Meal planning can be stressful for some. I have even talked to people that downright despise meal planning altogether. However, when done right it can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year on your grocery budget.
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With a little patience, persistence, and research you can be on your way to saving money every week while still providing your family with delicious meals each night. To help you on your journey to meal planning success I thought I would put together my top 7 meal planning tips.
MEAL PLANNING ON A BUDGET FOR BEGINNERS
- Keep a price list. You will want to keep a price list on hand so you know at the very least the rock bottom price of your most common purchases. This can easily be done in a spreadsheet or a notebook. You can get my price list in the printables library. This step is one that you will not want to miss if you want to become a pro at meal planning on a budget.
- Keep an inventory of your fridge, freezer, & pantry. Again this is very simple and can be done in a spreadsheet or notebook. By keeping this list updated you will be able to plan meals straight from your own stock. You will essentially grocery shop from your own pantry. I do this every week and it allows me to know what pantry staples I’m running low on or what products I have on hand that needs to be used before they expire. This will save you money in the long run and make that meal planning a lot simpler for you.
- Keep notes on your recipes. Have you ever made a recipe and didn’t like an ingredient or substituted something out only to make that recipe again and not remember what you did? Well, no fear! Keep notes on your recipes that way when you go back to make it again you will know what you did before. This will make your family and potentially your wallet very happy.
- Plan similar meals to stretch your meat. This is something most people don’t think about when I have talked to them about their meal plans. You don’t need to be overly complicated with it. Plan out 2 meals that have the same kind of meat. For example, you could make beef stew and beef & broccoli. They both use a stew type meat so I buy a roast and cut it up myself. I usually go for a 3-4 lb roast which will actually give me 3 meals! This is something that people who are really great at meal planning on a budget do every week!a
- Plan every meal for the week. That means planning out breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks for everyone. My husband prefers to have granola bars and yogurt for a snack and I prefer to have crackers or fruit. Our kids will eat all of the above so I make sure to buy those things and it just becomes a routine. I also plan in dessert 1-2 nights a week so we aren’t going out for ice cream at 8 PM. Trust me it will save you money!
- Shop the store circulars. I know, I know this is a given but a lot of people don’t do it. You don’t even need the newspapers anymore to find them! Most grocery stores publish their ads on their website. So you can just go peek at it online. I especially shop the sale ads for meat because that is the most expensive part of every meal.
- Keep it simple! No really, keep it simple. I have a rule in my kitchen that I refuse to cook any meal that requires more than 5 ingredients, not including pantry staples. I just refuse. It always takes longer, costs more and is easy to screw up. Chances are those meals require a lot more work when it comes to following each step. I prefer to keep my meal plan simple. I make a meat with steamed vegetables and a grain. That will keep costs down and the food more in your control as far as what is going into it. However, just because you keep it simple doesn’t mean it has to be bland. My 5 ingredient rule doesn’t include things like broth, seasonings or dairy products like sour cream.
My Bonus Meal Planning Tip
If you don’t want to take the time to make a meal plan then you can always purchase them. I have done this for years and found some really great recipes from it. Not only do they put together the meal plan for you but they make a grocery list! What?!
For years I have continually gone back to the $5 Meal Plan. You get so much for $5. I can tell you my time is worth more than $5! I usually spend an average of an hour per week planning our meals. This just saves so much time and energy!
Here is a bit of what you will get when you join $5 Meal Plan:
- Meal Plan
- Grocery list
- 5 dinner recipes with sides
- 1 breakfast & 1 lunch
- A random bonus (dessert, snack or drink)
The meals included in these meal plans will be a slow cooker meal, freezer meal, and a 20-minute meal among others. Not only do they include all of that for $5, but you will get lifetime access to their exclusive Facebook group where you will be able to connect with other like-minded individuals who are also using the program.
Are there specialty menus?
I’m glad you asked! Yes, there are 4 specialty menus available. They are 6-week menus that are sent all at once. You will get a special member price when you become a member of the $5 Meal Plan community. They include vegetarian, paleo, skinny & slow cooker meals. So the possibilities are endless! Honestly, did I mention how wonderful this service is?!
Is there a satisfaction guarantee?
Again, yes! They want you to be as happy as possible. They offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee and you can cancel your subscription at any time.
Overall, meal planning on a budget doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful. Many people avoid it like the plague because it seems too hard or time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be. It’s really only as hard as you make it. If you want to hand over your meal planning all together then you should definitely check out the $5 Meal Plan service. Those street tacos I made were worth the $5, plus I got to use that hour that I usually spend meal planning with my kids.
Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family while saving hundreds per year!
Plan & Organize Your Recipes
Grab my Trello board and organize your meal planning for good.