Are you trying to feed your family healthy, filling meals without going into debt? This post is going to walk you through planning family meals on a budget. If you’re trying to feed your family healthy meals, you may think that you have to spend an enormous amount of money on food. But you don’t. By planning your family meals in advance, you will not only save a lot of time on cooking and grocery shopping throughout the week but you will also save a lot of money on groceries too. Discover 10 tips that will help you plan family meals on a budget.
10 Tips for Planning Family Meals on a Budget
Ask your family for help.
Get input from your family members about what they would like to see on the table. If they help come up with ideas (and prepare the meals!) they are more likely to eat and enjoy what is being provided.
Stock up on staple ingredients.
Think about your family’s favorite meals and identify what they have in common. Does your family enjoy meals with certain ingredients often such as certain lean proteins or whole grains. Create a list of these so you can stock your pantry with the items that your family uses in meals most often. Also, you’ll want to scout deals on these items as part of planning family meals on a budget; being proactive about stocking your pantry will help to stretch your family’s grocery budget even further.
Shop in your pantry first.
Before heading to the store, inventory your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see what you already have on hand. As you make your plan for upcoming meals, be sure to include these ingredients in those meals to cut down on the amount of groceries you need to purchase. This also ensures that the items that you already have on hand are used before they expire or spoil.
Cook in larger batches.
Why only cook for one day when you can cook for several days or an entire week? If your family gets bored of eating the same meal multiple nights in a row, make two batches – one to serve for dinner today and another to freeze for a few weeks down the road.
Skip the meat.
Planning family meals on a budget could mean looking for certain foods to add to meals, but it could also mean eliminating some items too. Go meatless once a week or several times a month to cut your family’s grocery spending. You can make many delicious dishes from legumes, lentils, tofu and other sources of protein to give your family balanced meals.
Check sales flyers.
Look in your store circulars before making your meal plan. And plan your meals around items that may be on sale that week. If you find a great sale on chicken, turkey, produce, or other items – think about ways to include those in your family’s meals for the next week.
Get more grains on your plate.
Grains are a great part of a healthy diet. Whole grains like brown rice, farro, barley, oats, and more are an affordable addition to filling and nutritious meals for an entire family. These items can be added to meals as a separate side or can be included in salads, stews, soups and more.
Plan around lunch and breakfast, too.
Don’t forget about lunch or breakfast. Meal planning is not only for dinner. Think about how you can also plan meals around lunch and breakfast. As you are planning family meals on a budget, the aim is to consider all meals throughout the day. A rotisserie chicken can go a long way and double as a weeknight dinner, chicken breast to put on salads, or shredded chicken for fajitas or wraps. You can also plan ahead for breakfasts for the week by keeping cost-effective, healthy breakfast items on hand such as eggs, old fashioned oatmeal, whole grain bread, frozen fruit, quinoa, and more.
Plan the menu.
Identify recipes for dinner, lunch, and even breakfast. Create a list of the ingredients for those meals and from there (after you have shopped your pantry first!) make your grocery list.
Buy in-season produce.
Shop for items that are in season. These items are usually more affordable as they are grown in your region. They’re usually fresher too!
Well there you have it. These 10 tips can help you to plan healthy family meals and cut costs at the grocery store. And there are many benefits to planning family meals on a budget. Not only does this allow you to save money, but you will also cut down on cooking time and the number of trips to the grocery store when you make a family meal plan in advance.
Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Advocate, Health Educator, and a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. She helps parents to build healthier habits and routines to better balance home and work life. Her website, WholeFamilyLiving.com, provides motivation and simple strategies for handling everyday challenges like managing stress, being active, eating healthier, losing weight, and more. Alicia is a beach lover and gardening geek in her spare time.