How to Meal Plan on a Tight Budget

Want to save time and money by planning your meals for the week? Meal planning can definitely help you achieve these goals even if you are on a tight budget.

Meal planning is one of the best ways to save money and reduce the cost of your grocery bill when you are on a tight budget. Not only will it save you time, but it can also help you save a lot of money.

Meal planning is designed to make life easier for you. Although meal planning can seem a little difficult in the beginning, this effort will pay off, and your budget will thank you.

Here are some tips to help you meal plan on a budget!

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How to Start Meal Planning on a Tight Budget

1. Shop Your Pantry First

If you really want to save money with meal planning, begin by going through your pantry and planning your meals with things you already have.

If possible, make an inventory of the products you have and see what type of easy meals you can make for the week. Try to make this step a priority. You will be amazed at how much money you can save by cooking with the things you already have.

Recommended:11 Ways to Save Money on Groceries Without Coupons

2. Make a Menu and Stick With It

Why go through the hassle of creating a menu if you’re not going to stick with it? One way to meal prep when you are on a budget is to create a menu, meal prep, and then stick with it.

Challenge yourself to follow through with eating what you’ve made. Even if you don’t feel like it, this is one of the best ways to stick to a budget and save your money.

3. Buy Items on Sale

Try to check your grocery store ads or sale flyers before you head to the grocery store. Most stores advertise their best sales during the week, so try to take advantage of them. This is a great way to save money when meal planning.

If possible, try to stock up on sale items that you know for sure you will use in the future. For instance, every once in a while, I see avocados on sale, so I try to buy as much as I can and freeze them. Yes, you can freeze avocados and use them later!

Also, don’t forget to use the Ibotta app so you can maximize your savings even more. Ibotta also helps you earn cash back on your grocery purchases, so this app is a double winner!

Bonus: Get a FREE $10 Welcome Bonus  when you sign up for Ibotta here!

4. Try Different Stores

As much as you may hate to admit it, it’s hard to find everything you need at once store, especially if you are trying to save money when meal planning.

If you know you can buy your produce cheaply from one place and your meat from another, then buy from different stores. You’re bound to save money because you aren’t buying extras but sticking to your list.

5. Shop at Aldi for Produce

Aldi offers a great variety of products at a much lower price than regular grocery stores. If you don’t have an Aldi near you, I hope you get one soon.

Shopping for Aldi for produce is a budget saver. Its produce is marked down to just the right price. You walk in and can shop until you drop produce wise and still come out under budget. Give it a try sometime!

6. Buy Versatile Ingredients

Buy ingredients that you can create several meals out of. Here are some examples of versatile ingredients for meal planning:

  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Potatoes
  • Rolled oats

These products are cheap at most grocery stores, and you can make a million and one recipes out of them. Buying versatile ingredients is a way to save money when you are planning your meals for the week on a budget.

7. Cook with Less Meat

Meat is expensive, and it can take up a big part of your grocery budget. Try to plan a couple of meals where the main ingredient is not meat. You can use inexpensive proteins like eggs or beans.

A variety of tasty and budget-friendly recipes are meatless. If you do this often, you will be saving money when you are doing your meal planning for the week.

8. Cook Budget-Friendly Recipes

Cooking frugal or budget-friendly recipes is a great way to save money when meal planning. 

It could be overwhelming in the beginning but with time I’m sure you’ll find recipes that you and your family love and that fit into your budget. If you need help in coming up with ideas, check out my post of 25 Cheap and Easy Meal Ideas for a Frugal Budget.

Make sure to put your leftovers in glass or BPA free containers. I use these containers and I love them.

Besides being BPA free, they are microwavable, dishwasher and freezer safe. The best part is that they are the perfect size to save personal servings for each member of my family.

9. Prepare Ahead and Freeze the Meals

Cooking ahead and freezing meals will save you tons of money and time when you are meal planning on a tight budget. Freezer meals are what save you when you’re in a hurry and need to eat.

You can quickly pull something out of the freezer that you’ve previously cooked, heat it up, and have it ready to eat in minutes. You will find that cooking ahead works great with meal planning on a budget.

I love using my instant pot when I do my meal planning for the week. It is super easy to use, and the best part is that it saves me so much time and money by cooking food in less time than usual!

You can use it as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and many other appliances. If I have leftovers, I usually pack them, freeze them, and use them later! If you’re interested, this is the model I own.

10. Stick to the Basics

Meal prepping isn’t as hard as some people make it seem. I like to stick to the basics. I make meals with chicken and veggies. I like to hard boil eggs and eat those up. Sautéing veggies is also a budget-friendly way to stick to your budget.

Sticking to the basics means avoiding anything fancy. Don’t spend hours meal-prepping foods you aren’t even sure you will eat. I promise when you stick to the basics, you’re will be able to stay on budget for meal planning.

The next time you’re looking for ways to save money when meal planning on a budget, I hope you’ll come back to these tips.

It all comes down to prepping beforehand and following through with what you started. Just remember that you can do this!

Do you have any other tips for meal planning on a small budget? I’d love to read your comments!

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Want to start meal planning to save time and money? Check out these tips on how you can easily meal plan for you and your family even if you are on a tight budget. Meal plan ideas, freezer meals, save money on food, easy frugal cheap meals, crockpot meal ideas, healthy meals, vegetarian meals

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