Planning meals when you live a busy and active lifestyle can be pretty time-consuming and downright frustrating at times.
But when you consider how much money you’ll be saving by meal planning instead of splurging on your favorite fast food chain, the practice could prove invaluable. Especially if you are trying to meet specific budgeting goals.
If you’re not sure how to plan meals on a budget, don’t sweat it! With just 5 tips we will transform your approach to, and the way you think about, meal planning to keep you within your budget.
1. Create A Set Menu
Creating a set weekly menu is a brilliant way to plan meals on a budget! You can begin by deciding on the recipes you are going to use for lunch and dinner, and then move on to create an itemized list of each ingredient.
This will act as your guide when you’re browsing the grocery store to get the necessary ingredients.
You can also create a set menu around which home delivery meals you want to have delivered to ensure that you stay within the confines of your budget.
Knowing exactly what you are going to eat throughout the day or week will also stop you from splurging on convenience meals or fast food.
2. Use What You Already Have
Another great way to save money is to regularly check your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for potential meal-planning ingredients. You may have some hidden gems at the back of your cupboard just waiting to be used!
This simply involves using up everything in your home before you consider going out to the store to do another grocery shop.
Once you run out of a specific ingredient or food that you use in a lot of your meals, you can then go out and replace it.
Adopting this philosophy will help to prevent items from needing to be thrown away (essentially stops you from wasting food) while also reducing the risk of overspending on individual ingredients.
3. Try Not To Cook Meals With One Special Ingredient
By this, we simply mean to try to avoid using recipes that require one special ingredient. There’s a huge chance that you might not have this ingredient in your pantry and it could wind up costing you a considerable amount of money to purchase!
If you are only planning to make that particular meal once, it’s not going to be worth the extra money.
Instead, you can try substituting that one particular ingredient with something you do have, or you can try to leave it out of the dish altogether. You might find that the fun of experimenting with cooking results in a tastier dish than it otherwise would have been!
4. Involve The Whole Family
You must consider your whole family’s opinions when you start to plan meals.
If everyone in your household agrees about what foods they want to eat throughout the week, it will make the whole process of meal planning (and staying within your budget) that much easier!
Children are notoriously picky eaters. By involving them in the process of planning meals, you are limiting the risk of them refusing to eat what you have made. This means you’ll be far less likely to have to make them something else, resulting in you saving some money.
Encourage all family members to contribute their favorite foods so you can factor these in when making your final meal planning and grocery shopping lists.
5. Do Your Shop Online
Doing your weekly grocery shopping online is an excellent way to plan meals while also remaining within your budget! This is because you won’t be tempted to make impulsive purchases or add unnecessary foods to your basket.
Many grocery stores have a knack for putting food offers at the end of aisles to lure in unsuspecting shoppers. A lot of the time this works magnificently.
By ordering your groceries online, you are limiting these sorts of distractions while also ensuring that you only get the essentials you need.
Online shopping will also make it less likely that you will need to use a debit or credit card to fund your purchases.
Overall, planning meals on a budget doesn’t need to be a difficult feat! As long as you’re realistic about the kinds of things you can afford, and ensure that your entire family is happy to eat the meals that you have collectively planned out, you could potentially save a lot of money on food!