Whether you’re looking for tips to help you create healthy weekly menus your whole family will enjoy, want to know how to create and stick to your grocery list so you don’t overspend and throw away spoiled produce each week, or need kid-friendly recipes you can throw into the crockpot on busy weeknights, we’re sharing 5 simple tips to help you learn the art of family meal planning on a budget!
Family Meal Planning on a Budget Hack #1:
Stop throwing money away
Have you ever seen that meme about the bagged salads? The joke is that the person almost left the grocery store without buying another bagged salad so that in two weeks they can throw it away, completely unopened. It’s funny because it’s something so many of us do, but it makes you think about how much money we waste each week, doesn’t it?!
With meal planning, you don’t just toss grocery items into your cart, bring them home, and never use them. You only buy what is on your plan, and because it’s on your plan, you’ll be sure to use it.
Take a moment to think about the food you’ve thrown away in the past two weeks.
Do a quick estimate of how much money that wasted food represents.
What could you have done with that money instead?
Family Meal Planning on a Budget Hack #2:
Stop wasting food
While we all have great intentions when it comes to packing up leftovers into storage containers at the end of each meal, they eventually end up at the back of the fridge and we forget about them.
Intentional meal planning avoids this by forcing us to incorporate leftovers right into our weekly menu, and a little creativity can go a long way in helping to create completely different meals out of leftovers.
Leftover roast beef can become French dip sandwiches.
Leftover veggies can be used in an omelette.
Leftover rice or pasta can be used in soups.
The possibilities are endless!
Family Meal Planning on a Budget Hack #3:
Shop from a grocery list
Meal planning – and then shopping from a grocery list – can save you a significant amount of money.
When you plan ahead, you have time to consider what produce is in-season. You’ll be able to look at the sale flyers while coming up with your meal ideas. You can even take note of the fact that you’ll have leftover burger buns from Tuesday night’s chicken burger dinner and plan to turn those into garlic toast for Thursday night’s spaghetti dinner.
Want to learn how to create a grocery list that not only saves you money but time spent shopping? You can find out all about it in The Meal Planning Method.
Family Meal Planning on a Budget Hack #4:
Use what you have on hand
I helped a friend clean out their pantry the other day and we found food that had expired in 2014! I found 6 half-full bags of rice and 3 half-full bags of pasta. She had forgotten that food was there and simply bought more. We’ve all done this, but with a little planning and preparation, we can utilize what we have on hand so we’re not throwing away food unnecessarily.
When you take the time to plan out your weekly menu, it’s so much easier to keep track of what you have on hand to ensure you’re only buying the items you need, and are taking advantage of leftovers and items in your freezer.
Family Meal Planning on a Budget Hack #5:
Eat out less
I’m not trying to take date night or family pizza night away – I just want you to consider how many times you order takeout or head to a fast food joint simply because you didn’t have a plan for dinner. Eating out should be a treat – not a fallback option.
Preparing 90% of your own meals can have a significant impact on your monthly budget, allowing you to allocate funds to more exciting things you can enjoy as a family.
And don’t forget to download your free weekly meal planner. :)
I hope this collection of tips and hacks to teach you the art of family meal planning on a budget proves useful to you!
Randa Derkson is a busy mom of two, obsessed with trips to Disney, Culinary Nutrition Expert, and sick of the overwhelm when it comes to health. She’s the head nutrition expert at RandaDerkson.com where she’s committed to making healthy living easier.
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