- You need a menu. Set some time aside during the week to decide which recipes you’re going to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then build your grocery list based on that menu. This will make you far less likely to spend money on convenience meals like fast food.
- Shop for sales. While you’re making a menu, take a moment to look at what foods are on sale that week. Look at store flyers, coupon sites, and newspaper inserts. Just make sure you buy foods you will actually eat so it doesn’t go to waste.
- Try to plan for one ‘meatless’ meal per week. Beans, eggs, peanut butter, and canned fish can make great tasting protein options on the cheap.
- Use what you have first. Look in your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Build a menu based on the ingredients you already have. Not sure what to use first? Look at expiration dates and use those up first.
- Buy frozen veggies. Frozen veggies are flash frozen at the peak of freshness, so a lot of times they’re in better shape than the food you’ll find in the produce aisle. And even better, they’re super affordable!
- Skip anything that needs a special ingredient. You may never make that recipe again and then the ingredient ends up not being worth the money if it gets wasted in the end.
- Shop seasonally. Fruits and veggies are cheaper when they’re in season.
- Leftovers are your friend. For example, if you roast a chicken Monday night, then use the leftovers Tuesday night in a stir fry. Leftovers are your best friend.
- Make extras. Double your recipe and freeze what’s left. Have too many carrots or celery? Make a big batch of soup. Ground turkey on sale? Buy extra, cook and freeze it in meal sized portions to be pulled out at another time you’re in a rush.
- Know your family favorites. Things that are always a hit in my house: Tacos and spaghetti. The individual ingredients can be cooked ahead of time then frozen to be used at some future date. I have yet to hear groans of vegetable laden misery when I declare it taco night.
Ps. Do you have any meal planning tips on a budget? Feel free to share them in the comments!