Meal planning is an excellent way to keep your health and diet in check, saving you money and time along the way as well! But when you’re on a strict budget, it can be quite challenging prepping healthy meals within your price range. So if you don’t have a tonne of grocery money to work with and you don’t know where to begin, I’ll show you some tips on budget meal planning to help you out!
1. Plan and Research Food Prices
Before you start food shopping, the first thing you should do is plan what meals you want to prepare for and eat during the week. I recommend that you cook in bulk using ingredients that you can stretch your budget with; for example rice, potatoes, pasta and frozen vegetables. Many websites (such as BBC Good Food) and cookbooks share both cheap and delicious recipes that you can use for inspiration. Once you’ve rounded up your favorites and what you want for the week, organize them to the day you want to have it.
Build your shopping list based on your recipes then look out for discounts and foods that cost less when bought in bulk. Pound stores, huge supermarket chains like Tesco or Asda, or even purchasing online can help you to slash the pounds!
2. Shop Wisely
When shopping wisely, it’s best to focus on ingredients and recipes that are inexpensive and can help stretch the budget. I suggest that you get some of these cheap items:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Peanut butter
When planning out your meals, overlap ingredients to avoid food waste. It’s best to plan using the inverted pyramid pattern. Starting off with your biggest meal and work your way down; adding recipes based on ingredients which are leftovers from your main meals.
Another thing you can do is shop for staple ingredients, which can be used for a variety of recipes; I call these “standbys.” I usually get potatoes, spinach, chicken thighs, and mushroom, as well as butter or olive oil. While it may seem dull, you’ll be able to do a tonne of things with the right spices and seasonings! I recommend that you also stock up on healthy fats like olive oil or nuts, which are extremely satiating (and yes, fat doesn’t make you fat!).
3. Create a Schedule
You shouldn’t just focus on your meal plan but your schedule too! Try scheduling your grocery trips around times that they have discounted foods; which is usually at the end of a day! Spend a day shopping and prepping your meals for the week, which will help you save a lot of time during your busy days.
Additionally, you should also create an effective workout and sleeping schedule, which can improve your fitness as well. Learn about the ways to sleep better and aim for around seven to nine hours every night. As for exercise, go for a balance of both cardio and weight training around three to five times a week.
Through scheduling your week for your meals, exercise, work, and sleep, you’ll be able to live a healthier and more organized life.
4. Avoid Food Waste
Did you know that even with an effective meal plan, there may be times your ingredients or meals end up becoming leftovers? Because of this, you need to save it and prevent any wastage, which also takes a toll on your budget! If you have some random ingredients left over, you can “Iron Chef” them, getting creative and making a whole new meal out of what you have.
Furthermore, you can avoid food wastage by reorganising your fridge before shopping. Look at the food you still have and when you’re back from grocery shopping, create a whole new system to store food and prevent it from being forgotten; pop the items that need to be used first at the front of the fridge or cupboard. You can also freeze your food to make it last longer. And if possible, you can regrow your vegetables, starting a small garden to save money on buying veggies!
Budget meal planning doesn’t mean you’ll be purchasing cheap ready meals in your local fast food chain every day. There are ways on how to keep your diet in check and without having to spend a ton.
Hopefully, this article on budget meal planning encouraged you how to begin your journey. So don’t wait any longer and utilize any of these tips today!
For those who had any questions or would like to share your tips and experiences on meal planning, do post your comments below. I would love to hear what you have to think.
Author’s Bio: My name is Layla and I’m a writer at Howtonight.com – lifestyle blog which mostly focuses on health and nutrition but we also publish articles related to pets, travel, and entertainment.