Do you feel lost when you think about meal planning? Even worse, when you think about doing it on a budget? Well, today I’m sharing with you step-by-step instructions so you can start meal planning on a budget like a pro! Plus, there are FREE Printables you can snag to make your planning even easier!
My husband and I used to spend a lot of money on food! Like, a lot. Seriously. Not only because we used to eat out a lot but also because we didn’t have a plan.
We had just absolutely no idea of how to manage our money, we didn’t have a monthly budget, we didn’t really make shopping lists, and we didn’t really care about implementing strategies that would save us money when we went to the grocery store.
I’m glad we came a long way. We took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course and it completely changed our lives. We started seeing money in a whole new way. And that impacted the way we plan everything we do (that involves money).
Including the way we plan our meals and shop for our food. We now take meal planning on a budget seriously!
You see, when my husband and I didn’t plan things, we ended up having to go to the store several times, because one or two ingredients were always missing.
But every time we went to the store to get those few ingredients, we came home with many more. And because we didn’t have a budget, we just kept spending as we pleased.
At the end of every month, we always wondered why we had spent more than the income we made. Oh well, that’s because when you don’t have a plan, you set yourself up for failure.
So today, I want to share with you how we do things today. Because the changes we’ve made over the years, have allowed us to save hundreds of dollars every month and to (almost) always have delicious, homemade food at the table!
So let’s look at how you can start meal planning on a budget too!
Come up with a food budget
The first thing you have to do is decide on a budget for your food category! How much can you spend monthly on food to feed your whole family? Make sure it’s an amount you (and your spouse, if you have one) are comfortable with, but never compromise your family’s health to save a buck or two.
[If you need a couple tips on how to save on groceries without compromising your family’s health, read this.]
Once you’re comfortable with that amount, divide it by four. This way, you know how much you can spend on groceries each week.
Plan your weekly meals
I always found meal planning very hard. Mainly because I planned on cooking a meal every day of the week.
I didn’t realize that most of the time, there are leftovers! Each family is different but in our house, each meal that I cook usually feeds us two different meals. Sometimes even three.
Once I realized that and took my friend’s advice, I started planning to cook 3 or 4 meals per week instead of 7. And this worked out perfectly for our family of four. Find out how many meals work for yours and plan accordingly.
[You can download our FREE Meal Planning Kit and use the Weekly Meal Plan page for that!]
Find some good recipes
Once you have a plan laid out of what meals you want to cook, find some good recipes. You can use my Delicious Dinner Recipes board on Pinterest as a starting point!
Or… If you’re a whiz in the kitchen and know exactly how much and what ingredients you’re going to need, just skip this step!
[Use the Recipe page in your FREE Meal Planning Kit to write down and save each recipe in a binder in your home.]
Make a shopping list
Don’t skip this step! It’s one of the most important things you can do to truly be able to start meal planning on a budget.
When you look at the recipes and create a shopping list, you’re making sure you buy exactly what you need for that week and avoid wasting money and food. I usually make my shopping list on a mobile app called Any list. Simply because I’m remarkably forgetful. If it’s not on my phone, I ain’t bringing it to the store with me.
After forgetting my list at home way too many times, I started doing it on this app. But if you still prefer paper. No problem! There’s a page for your shopping list in our Meal Planning Kit as well.
Go grocery shopping (on a budget)
It’s time to take that list (or phone) to the store and actually buy the ingredients. You’ll notice that because you have a plan, your purchase will most likely cost less.
That happens because now that you’re following the list, there are no unexpected items in your cart. Be firm and resist the urge to get what’s not on the list. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re well fed before going to the store.
Start meal planning on a budget
With those tips in mind, I’m quite confident that you’ll do exceptionally well in your meal and budget planning!
Just remember to come up with a food budget, plan your weekly meals, find some amazing, mouth-watering recipes, make a shopping list, and go grocery shopping (with your budget in mind).
If you do that, you’ll be all set to achieving your #mealplanninggoals! If you haven’t grabbed your FREE Meal Planning Kit, make sure to do so right now:
This way, you’ll get your recipes, meal plan, and shopping list organized!