Times are tough right now. Time is limited. Money is tight. We need to make our dollars stretch but you don’t have to compromise nutrition when doing family meal planning on a budget.
When I worked in public health (for over a decade) this was actually one of my favorite things to do. Healthy family meal planning (heart and soul of savings) is making sure to PLAN ahead. Plan your meals, plan your snacks, and shop when you aren’t hungry. Start with the days of the week that you want to make meals. Most people do a Sunday-Friday plan, leaving one day for a meal out or a “flex day.”
Next, write out your list in six main sections based on quadrants and guided around location in the store:
Need some ideas about where to get started? Let me share some tried and true free meal planning tips:
Buy meat when on sale and buy the “family packs.” Freeze these in individual portions appropriate for your family size. Don’t forget to date and label everything!
Eat more beans & lentils: Use these in soups, stews, chili, curries, tacos, or even to stretch meat like in spaghetti sauce. These are the cheapest source of protein going! Plan for 1-2 vegetarian meals per week.
Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious! They are picked in their prime of ripeness and are a cheap (and salt-free) alternative to buying fresh. When using canned beans, lentils, or veggies, make sure to drain and rinse them well to reduce the amount of salt
Batch cook grains: Decide which grains you are having that week (usually pick 1-2 options) and freeze the leftovers.
An affordable meal plan should plan to use up all the foods in the fridge to prevent waste which is devastating to the budget, plan a soup or stew to add those leftover veggies! See my “Freezer Favs” below to maximize the savings.
There are a ton of weird and wonderful foods that actually freeze really well! These will save you $$ and prevent waste.
Here are some of my “Freezer Favorites”
Pasta & rice (undercook slightly)
Bread, muffins, brownies
Avocado (cut into chunks)
Eggs (scrambled and put into ice cube trays)
Nuts and seeds
Batter for pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc.
If you need some fresh, budget-friendly ideas for your family check out my sample free family meal plan and download it today!