Meal planning can mean the difference between chaos at dinnertime, ordering too many pizzas, picking up too much fast food, and a calm, relaxing, no worries dinnertime with the family.
When you have a plan and you have it ready to execute on a moments notice, you are going to spend less, provide a healthier meal for your family, and be less stressed about the entire process. Today we’ll talk about how to set this in motion and even give you a free meal planning printable to get you started.
Meal Planning Tips & Tricks To Save Money While Eating Healthy PLUS FREE Meal Planning Printable
Meal planning on a budget is the way many people cut their grocery bills literally in half. A little meal planning and prep work can go a long way in cutting your grocery budget.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget, meal planning and cooking all your food at home can help you in saving some serious cash. Planning your meals in advance also has a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
We even have a free meal planning printable you can use to help get organized. Meal planning for beginners doesn’t have to be hard. With the following meal planning ides, meal planning tip, meal planning tricks, and the free meal planning template we made, you can be on your way to healthy meal planning on a budget! Let’s get started!
Need more convincing? Check this out: 5 Ways Monthly Meal Planning Saves you Money!
Creating seven days worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners using accessible and affordable ingredients is the key to staying healthy while not going over your budget. Imagine yourself creating go-to-budget-friendly-healthy meals that you can prepare fast and enjoy without stressing yourself.
Also, just think you’ll never have to wonder what to defrost or what you’ll do for dinner again, or even hear the kids ask – it’s all there for them and you to see!
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to meal planning is that it can fail. You may spend hours upon hours trying to build your weekly meal plan: Gathering all the information and trying to work out your budget may be enough to have you feeling overwhelmed.
But, don’t worry, we’ve all been there, you CAN do this! It’s quite simple and once you do it, you’ll never want to go back because it’s so easy and makes things run much smoother – let’s face it with homework, dinner, baths, and bedtime – why add anymore stress, this will help evening go much smoother.
Check out this post: 6 Ways Monthly Meal Planning Can Save Money & Your Sanity!
To avoid all the complications of meal planning, I created a list of the simple tips and hacks that you need to know when it comes to meal planning on a budget.
Before We Get Started…
Do you ever think of an awesome meal while watching TV or taking a shower and when you are about to write it down, you can’t quite remember what was it? This happens to all of us!
Some people use dry-erase boards for meal planning while others use scrap paper that they just throw away once the week is over, but, there’s an easier way.
Your meal planning sheets are a great resource! Before we start, print out this FREE meal planning worksheet. You can print out several copies, hole-punch them, and compile them. or put them in page protectors in a binder.
You’ll end up with a binder full of different meal plans you can use over and over again.
You don’t have to make a scrapbook of your meals, or document every step. But, you can keep a few notes on the worksheet that you can easily go back and reference later.
You might prefer this FREE Monthly Meal Planner, or you can use both!
Don’t Overthink It
One of the most important things to keep in mind with budget meal planning is to keep everything simple. Microwave frozen vegetables, grill protein, and make simple yet filling side dishes of pasta, bread, salad or rice.
Build A Routine
Eating the same thing regularly can help you with meal planning. We all need some spice in our lives but if you’re trying to save money and time, you might need to let go of some variety as well.
You can give each day of the week a specific meal: Mondays can be quick and easy, Wednesday can be an Italian night, Friday can be your kids’ favorite, and don’t forget Taco Tuesday!
Stick with easy and simple meals that you know your family will like. Your kids will like eating chicken wraps or grilled cheese once or even twice a week — it will not only make your life easier, you are sure that your kids will eat too!
Here’s a few to get you started: 5 Meals To Keep In Your Pantry & Freezer!
Plan Based on Sales
You can plan your meals based on the ingredients that your local grocery has on sale for the week. Flipp (available on Apple and Android) allows you to see the items on sale at your local supermarkets and stores check out the farmer’s markets and other places in your are to find local, in-season produce. Goods in-season are not only cheaper, they are at their best quality, too.
Try Incorporating Fruits
An apple a day keeps the doctor away — so, try and incorporate it into your meals! To encourage your kids in eating fruits, cut it up! They are healthier than potato chips and it’s a great step to start your kids in eating fruits and vegetables.
Create A List Of Side Dishes
Most of us use salads as side dishes for many meals — soup with a side salad, sandwich with a side salad, and even protein with a side salad. If you’ll do this frequently, you might end up bored with salad for life..
Instead of serving your family the same sides, create a list of the side dishes you can use every meal. You can eat pasta on Monday, green beans on a Tuesday, and carrots with hummus on a Wednesday. Veggies every night are a must, just make sure you have plenty of variety.
Make A Meal Out Of Your Leftovers
If you have a bunch of random ingredients or leftovers from the previous week, you can get creative and make a new meal out of them.
Or even snacks, I will tell you when my kids were growing up they would eat anything wrapped in a tortilla. So, I wrapped leftovers in tortillas, individually wrapped them in plastic wrap, and popped them in the freezer.
When the kids wanted a snack they’d head to the freezer and grab one. I have used leftover taco meat (duh), spaghetti sauce, chili, beef stew, crumbled hamburgers with cheese, anything! Give it a try, the kids LOVED having those handy.
You might notice, one of the biggest costs in your budget is not food, at all — but, rather mostly beverages. Even non-alcoholic drinks can add up to your grocery bill. If you’re eating at home and embracing the concept of meal planning, one of the best ways to reduce the cost and save money is by drinking as simple as possible.
If your family members cannot stand plain water, try adding powdered drink mix. They’re cheap and can make your drinks fancier. You can also try and infuse fruits to your water to get your kids to drink more water. We drank iced tea and water for dinner when my kids were growing up. Tea is relatively cheap.
Buying different drinks, such as soda, can add up. To keep your family on track with budgeting, forget about those fancy drinks and start drinking more water.
You will be amazed at how meal planning can impact not only your food costs, but, your entire budget, as well.
What are your favorite meal planning tips?