5 Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget

If you feel like your grocery spending is getting out of control, and you still feel like you have “nothing” to eat, try meal planning.  It will save you both time and money, and it will ensure that you can answer your kid’s favorite question “What’s for dinner”. With some advance planning and organization, you will know what you’re going to cook and you will have all of the ingredients you need on hand. Your grocery bill will become much more manageable. You need to start meal planning, so here is a free printable to help you get organized.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Plan Your Meals Around What You Already Have
Organize your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and make a list of what you already have on hand. Group your foods together by category, including canned goods, pasta and rice, sauces, baking essentials, and snacks. Clean out your freezer and refrigerator and throw away any expired food.
Once you have everything organized, you can start planning around the food you already have. This will not only help you lower your grocery bill, it will also help eliminate duplicate items.
Plan for All Three Daily Meals + Snacks
When you don’t plan for a meal, you are more likely to hit the drive-thru and spend money. Plan for an easy and inexpensive breakfast on the go.  Or use your slow cooker at night to start breakfast while you sleep. Pack leftovers from last night’s dinner for lunch.  Have healthy snacks handy and within easy reach for your family.
Plan Around What Is On Sale
Before heading to the store, check their sale paper to see what they are featuring.  Then, plan your meals for the week around the specials you find.  If there is an extraordinarily good deal, stock up for future meals.
Have A “Clean Out the Fridge” Night
Instead of throwing out leftovers, plan a “Clean Out the Fridge” night, where you only eat what you find in the fridge. Check your pantry too for any canned goods that may be close to their expiration date.  Go ahead and add them to the menu.
Plan Around Foods In Season
The best deals on produce happen when it’s in season. Whatever the season, take advantage of the farm stands and local produce; you won’t find those great prices any other time of the year.
Grocery shopping can easily get out of control and take a chunk out of your budget, but if you plan your meals in advance, you can easily control this portion of your budget.  It only takes about 30 minutes a week to take a fridge and pantry inventory and create a meal plan that will save you money.

Do have a “go to” recipe website that you use to help you meal plan?

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