Budget meal planning doesn’t need to be hard. People often over-complicate meal planning by not simplifying the process. The 10 tips we showcase here streamline the meal planning process with the intention of saving you more money in the long run. Even just adopting a few of these tips can help you save money but most importantly free up more time throughout your day.
1.) Make it a habit to look for recipes
The biggest part of budget meal planning is getting recipes that can be budget friendly but also taste great. Getting in the habit of looking for new budget friendly recipes can go a long way to having a diverse selection of recipes to pick from. Frequenting recipe blogs, Pinterest, even asking friends and family for recipes can be a great way to uncover great recipes.
2.) Organize your recipes for everyday use
Meal planning would be almost impossible if you can’t find your recipe. So keep your recipes organized. You can use classic organization techniques like recipe books or recipe boxes. However, it would be wise to use modern options. Apps such as ChefTap or Paprika are great options for saving your recipes online. Best of all you can access them while at the grocery store or while on vacation.
Though you should be relaxing while on vacation!
3.) Know what the people want!
Are you cooking for friends and family? Are you just cooking for yourself? Knowing what recipes the people you cook for enjoy makes meal planning much easier. For example, if your family loves Chicken Noodle Soup you’ll know to stockpile chicken broth cubes and pasta noodles when a great deal pops up. Having them on hand ensures you’ll always have a throw-together meal that makes everyone happy.
4.) Keep a calendar or planner
It may sound like it takes a lot of your time, but it honestly doesn’t. At the start of the week just jot down of what you think you’ll want throughout the week and build around that. If you have chicken cutlets on Tuesday it might be wise to try something non-chicken on Monday or Wednesday. So maybe meatloaf on Monday and Italian Pasta on Wednesday? See, its not that hard to come up with a framework weekly plan.
This is where having that stockpile of recipes comes in handy!
5.) Make your shopping list and check It twice!
These days there are so many ways to create shopping lists and keep them with you. Most grocery stores offer, through their website or official app, the ability for you to build your grocery list ahead of your visit. Amazing, right? There are also apps like Out of Milk Shopping List and Google Assistant that stream line the shopping list process and can be stores on your phone.
Since most people remember to take their phone everywhere, it will be sorta hard to forget your shopping list then!
6.) Sales and coupons will reinforce your meal plans
One of the important parts of budget meal planning is the budget! You can save money on recipe ingredients with some basic couponing or sales research. Checking local grocery store fliers can give you a heads up on upcoming sales and when you can get the best bang for your buck. Also using our print grocery coupons section allows you to print coupons right now.
Keep your budget in check and start saving on your groceries now!
7.) Save leftovers and make one meal into two meals
It’s a classic tip but truly one of the most cost effective. Consider making larger proportions for your meals with the intent of eating leftovers the following day. Depending on the recipe, the cost of increasing the size of a meal might be cheaper than making a second meal the following day. Many times, I’ve made baked chicken for one meal and used the leftovers to make chicken salad for a second meal.
8.) Freezing food is saving money
You can even freeze some of your leftovers and save them for a day you don’t feel like cooking. There have been many days I’ve been too busy to cook a meal from scratch. On days like that having frozen leftovers became a major lifesaver. It is also budget friendly when you don’t need to plan a meal since there is already one waiting in the freezer.
9.) Food storage containers are a must
Food storage containers are a must in almost any kitchen. Its surprising how many people don’t take advantage how food containers can extend the life of your food by days. Imagine making food on Monday and having leftovers on Friday? maybe even Sunday? Food containers are also very affordable too. Dollar Tree actually has the containers for $1 a piece. Making your leftovers last longer will ultimately save money in the long run.
10.) Don’t over-complicate things
Honestly, don’t get in over your head. Many people I’ve known who try and setup a simple meal plan often get in over their head. Don’t try and radically change everything in your life. Start out small and make a few changes. If those changes stick, maybe add a few more. After time you’ll see a dynamic shift in the meals you prepare and how much you’ll end up saving each week.
Final Word: 10 Tips for Budget Meal Planning
The true point of budget meal planning is to save money and eat well. The tips highlighted above could be the first step to accomplishing that. What I’ve found helps is taking the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone when it comes to trying new meals. If you can expand your recipe catalog you’ll ultimately have greater recipe diversity and more flexibility.