The first step to living healthy is eating the right foods. This is a lot easier if you start meal planning. Instead of scrambling to find something to eat at the last minute, you will have healthy meals planned for the entire week.
Meal planning on a tight budget can be a pain. Fortunately, there are ways to keep more money in your pocket while creating awesome dishes that your entire family will love. Here are 10 tips to plan your meals without going over budget:
Check Your House
The first thing you need to do before planning your meals for the week is check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Try to base some of your recipes around the foods you already have in the house. This will save a lot of money in the long run. Prioritize food items that are about to expire over everything else.
Shop the Sales
Grocery stores put a large number of items on sale every week. Some of these items are even sold below cost to get more customers in the store. Planning your meals around the heavily discounted items will save you a lot of money. This also ensures you have a varied menu every week.
Create a Shopping List
You need to have a meal plan ready before going to the store. Create a grocery list of every item you need for your recipes. Do not stray from this list at any time. You are far more likely to overspend when shopping without a grocery list.
When creating a shopping list, don’t forget to check out if there are any discounts that you can use to reduce your expenses. Sites like yofreesamples.com, for example, offer freebies and coupons for essential food and grocery items.
Prioritize Your Spending
There will likely come a time when your food budget comes up a little short. In these circumstances, it is important to prioritize your spending. The main components of your dishes are far more important than small garnishes. Excluding an expensive spice or a rarely-used vegetable will not ruin your dish.
Stock Up Nonperishables
Meal planning is a lot easier to accomplish every week when you have a full pantry. Since nonperishable foods have a long shelf life, you should stockpile these items when they go on sale. This tip only makes sense when stocking up on food items that you eat on a regular basis.
Use Expert Menus
Planning healthy meals can be a little tricky. Luckily, there are many sources online that offer meal planning recipes for free. Sticking to a low carb diet plan is a lot easier when you are getting some help from experts in the field.
Buy Seasonal Items
Fruits and vegetables are a vital part of every healthy diet, but you should only buy them when they are in season. Since it is harder to acquire, produce costs a lot more when it is out of season. This will also help give your meals extra flavor.
Use the Leftovers
Leftovers are a great way to save time and money. Eat the previous night’s dinner for lunch the next day. This essentially eliminates one meal out of your budget every day. You may have to buy a little extra to ensure there are leftovers, but this will still be cheaper than preparing a completely different dish for lunch every day.
There are many dishes that can be made from leftovers as well. For instance, you can make a yummy macaroni and cheese casserole for dinner or a delicious breakfast scramble from leftover viands. You can come up with ideas by considering what your family likes then rummage the fridge for the remnants of yesterday’s lunch. If your children like pizza, you might consider making no-bake pizza, which is surprisingly easy using leftover pasta sauce, hotdogs, ham, and some bread.
Eat One Meatless Meal
Meat is often the most expensive part of every meal. This makes meatless meals a great way to cut your food costs. If your meal includes other healthy proteins, then you will not even miss the meat.
If you can’t imagine meals without any meat, then choose ones that are cheaper yet just as filling. For example, instead of beef, why not opt for lean chicken meat which is healthier too? You can also go for smaller meat portions so that you can keep your meal planning budget in check.
Make Your Favorites
It is a lot easier to stick to a new meal plan when you are cooking your favorite foods on a regular basis. The goal is to look forward to your next meal. Nobody wants to eat food they don’t like every day.
Healthy eating does not have to break the bank. Just take the time to carefully plan your meals every week. You will probably actually end up saving money in the long run. Meal planning on a budget does not have to be hard work. With just a little forethought and planning, you can put together delicious and easy to prepare meals that don’t cost a fortune.