View the meal plans for one on a budget. I always have more to do than time, so I often make “one meal at a time” meals that are quick and easy to prepare. Making a meal plan is key to eating a balanced diet in one household. Instead of feeding your family junk food or ordering pizza, creating a budget friendly meal plan for one can help anyone eat and afford healthy meals on a budget.
Top 13 Meal Planning on a Budget Ideas in 2022
Spending money on food can be costly. Making food provisions for a family of five, a single person, or a bachelor is not at all simple. This is when having a budget-friendly meal planning strategy will come in handy.
Honestly, you can spend a lot less money if you plan each of your meals. In addition, you won’t have to worry about what to buy every day when you go to the grocery store.
The time commitment involved in meal planning is the main drawback, but you shouldn’t worry about it at all since with the appropriate strategies, you can be confident that you’ll have a nutritious meal plan and shopping list without stress.
I’m going to share with you in this article the top 13 time and money-saving suggestions for cooking healthy meals on a budget. So this article is for you if you’re seeking for a quick, simple, and affordable approach to organize your lunch.
You may get a quick summary of these concepts by looking at the table of contents down below.
What Is Budget Meal Planning?
For various people, meal planning on a budget can mean different things. It may be a weekly food plan that helps people save time and money.
You must set aside time to consider the kinds of inexpensive meals you want to consume during the week, and then record those meals on a calendar using a pen and paper, phone, or computer.
In conclusion, creating a menu for the food you’ll eat each day is a proactive strategy to save money.
13 Best Healthy Meal Planning on a Budget Ideas
Here are weekly meal planning on budget ideas that can help you cut down feeding expenses:
#1. Prepare a Food Menu
Start with creating a food menu if you want to create a meal plan that will help you save time and money. Decide what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner depending on your preferences or, if it’s a family meal plan, the preferences of the family.
Remember to plan your family’s meals on a budget each week or month while creating your menu. And trust me, you will save a lot of money if you can keep this under control.
#2. Consider Foods in season
Food is often thought to cost cheaper when it is in season. I’m not advocating that you consider eating allergens just because they’re in season. If you conduct a thorough search, you can locate meals that both you and your family will enjoy.
#3. Make a Weekly Plan
Whether you’re budgeting meals for two or five people, preparing weekly can help you keep things simple and straightforward. Additionally, it will enable you to gauge the effectiveness.
#4. Plan based on the foods in Sales
One of the best ideas for healthy meal planning on a budget that you can use to help reduce your feeding costs is to plan based on what foods are on sale. Now, how do you go about it?
Check online stores, newspaper inserts, and even coupon sites online to see foods at a discount rate.
#5. Consider getting a Fridge
Planning meals might be made much simpler for you if you store food in a refrigerator or cabinet. Additionally, you’ll avoid the stress of making frequent, time-consuming trips to the grocery store.
#6. Consider your Pantry
Before including your meal planning on a budget buying list, it is a nice idea to consider foods in your cupboard, freezer, or stores. By doing that first, you’ll be able to identify the meals you can create using the items and components in your cupboard.
#7. Consider your Leftover Foods
Whether you are meal planning on a budget for one or for five people, it is a nice idea to take your leftovers into account. For instance, if you made chicken stew on Sunday night, you might use the leftovers to make Jolof rice without the egg on Monday.
#8. Plan based on your favorite
Even if it is expected that you may try new foods, stay away from dishes that call for particular ingredients. If an ingredient can be used in two or more meals, you will save more time overall. Even if you want to prepare a dish that calls for a particular ingredient that is different from what you already have, let it be sometimes.
#9. Plan on getting Meals that require similar Ingredient
Even if it is expected that you may try new foods, stay away from dishes that call for particular ingredients. If an ingredient can be used in two or more meals, you will save more time overall. Let it be occasionally even if you wish to prepare a meal that calls for a particular ingredient that is different from what you already have.
#10. Prepare Meals in Batches
One of the most effective budget-friendly healthy meal planning strategies is to prepare in bulk. I frequently do it, and trust me, it’s worthwhile. The same ingredient can be used to make lunch, dinner, and breakfast. After consuming your breakfast, you can freeze the remaining batches in portion-sized servings for later.
#11. Put your meal planning on a budget shopping list in Advance.
Include your meal plan on your weekly shopping list 3 days before the day you intend to go shopping. Doing this will help save you the stress of any inconveniences.
#12. Repeat Meals
Repeating a few of the same meals for some weeks is also another plan you can apply when making a meal planning budget.
#13. Consider a meatless Meal
You may cut your food costs by planning a meatless meal once a week. You can experiment with legumes like dry peas, lentils, or beans. A nice meal may be made with eggs, peanut butter, and canned salmon.
Whether you are making a family meal or planning on a budget for 5, 4, or 1, with the above ideas, you can save a lot.
How To Make a Healthy Meal Plan on a Budget
It cannot be denied. It takes work to arrange meals. Meal preparation may sometimes seem difficult if you have a limited budget yet want to prepare healthy meals for your family.
However, even with a tight budget, it is still possible to come up with a nutritious meal plan that your family will enjoy. During the meal planning process, the objective is to integrate ideas for healthy eating with cost-cutting techniques. You may quickly master mealtime by combining these three strategies with the aid of this tutorial.
How To Create a Healthy Meal Plan Successfully
The first step in creating a healthy meal plan for your family is committing to regular meal planning. Here are tips to help you stick to meal planning for long-term success.
Find a meal planning system
You should find a meal planning strategy that works for you if you want to start routinely serving your family healthful meals. Once you discover the most effective method for developing your healthy food plan, consistency will be lot simpler to maintain.
Here are the two key inquiries you must respond to in order to create your menu plan for nutritious meals.
How frequently do you arrange meals for your family?
Meal planning on a weekly basis is favored by many people. However, bimonthly or monthly meal planning could be preferable if finding time to do it each week is difficult.
Where are you going to record your meals?
A binder for meal planning is a great resource for maintaining organization. It’s not the only way to keep track of your family’s meals, either. A cheap planner, a colorful blackboard in your kitchen, or even a blank sheet of paper are all options. It’s crucial to determine what works for you.
Keep a list of simple and healthy meals
You should compile a list of wholesome yet straightforward supper ideas that you can use as a guide when making meal decisions if you want to stick to meal planning over the long run and uphold healthy eating habits for your family. Additionally, cooking quick meals on a hectic night will aid in avoiding the temptation to order unhealthy takeout or eat fast food.
Don’t forget to write down a quick, healthy dinner that your family enjoys when you locate one. When it’s time to plan meals, keep the list in a handy location so you can access it easily. As your family’s list of preferred meals expands, you can use it as a resource to accelerate the creation of your healthy meal plans.
Keep a routine
You should allocate time for meal preparation once you have chosen your meal-planning method. For instance, if you want to meal plan once each week, you should set out time each week to do so. Making a nutritious meal plan for your family will be easier to maintain if you do it at roughly the same time each week.
Consider your existing routine and how much time you have to dedicate to meal planning. Monthly meal planning may be the best option if you are busy during the week with work and your children’s activities because you only need to think about it once a month. Do you have more free time now? A weekly food plan can be the best option.
Decide when to grocery shop
When to go grocery shopping is a decision you must make in order to successfully plan your meals. If you plan your meals each week, you’ll need to go shopping for groceries the following week.
However, you’ll have more freedom with grocery shopping if you choose to schedule your meals every other week (biweekly) or once a month. You can decide whether to go grocery shopping every week or every other week if you make a biweekly meal plan. You can decide to go food shopping weekly, bimonthly, or monthly if you make a monthly meal plan.
The Core Concepts of a Healthy Meal Plan
Making a healthy food plan is no different from creating any other meal plan. The distinction lies in your meal preferences and food preparation methods, though. A healthy dinner must be composed of nutritious meals that have been carefully chosen and prepared. The following advice will help you create a healthy eating plan.
Buy lean meats
Meats with less fat are referred to as lean meats. Lean meats include skinless poultry like chicken and turkey, hog, lamb, veal, and fish. When you choose 90% lean or more, even ground beef is considered lean meat.
Trim the excess fat from any meat you purchase that has visible fat on it before cooking it.
Lean meats that are affordable to buy include bone-in chicken, bone-in pork loin chops, lean ground beef, and flat-iron steak.
Limit foods high in saturated fats
Unhealthy fats present in food include saturated fats. Consume meals with a lot of saturated fats in moderation for a healthy diet.
Saturated fats can be found in some food items like:
- Fried Foods (Chicken, Battered Fish, French Fries)
- Prepackaged Baked Goods (Cookies, Pastries)
- Frozen Pizza
- Meat Sticks
- Frozen Dinners
- Coffee Creamers
Reading labels is the greatest way to find items that are high in saturated fat. To find out how many grams of saturated fat are in a product, look for the Nutrition Facts label.
The American Heart Association advises consuming saturated fats in moderation—no more than 6% of total calories. So if you consume 2,000 calories per day, for instance, you should limit your intake of saturated fat to fewer than 13 grams per day.
Eat your fruits and veggies
Vegetables and fruits are necessary for a healthy diet. But certain fruits and vegetables are better for you than others. You should therefore include as many healthier options as you can in your healthy food plan. Here are the fruits and vegetables that are the most nutrient-dense as well as the least nutrient-dense.
Healthiest fruits and vegetables:
- Citrus Fruits
- Sweet Potatoes
Least healthy fruits and vegetables:
- Dried Fruit
- Iceberg Lettuce
- Russet Potatoes
Know proper portion sizes
Just as crucial as what you eat is controlling how much of it you consume. Your level of activity should determine how many calories you need to ingest. When deciding on caloric intake, you should also take into account any weight objectives that you or your family members may have.
A person who consumes 2,000 calories per day should generally include:
- Two and a Half Servings of Vegetables
- Two Servings of Fruits
- Six Servings of Grains
- Three Servings of Dairy
- Six One-Once Servings of Lean Meat/Protein
Be mindful of how you prepare your food
Healthy meal planning requires that you prepare your meals without adding extra calories or fat. Unfortunately, it is simple to cook nutritious food in a way that results in an unhealthy lunch.
Steer clear of oil-based sautéing and deep frying. Cooking techniques that are healthy include roasting, grilling, baking, and steaming. To avoid needing to oil-coat food, use non-stick cookware. To preserve their beneficial nutrients, steam or microwave your vegetables rather than boiling them. Instead of using full-fat versions of ingredients, use low-fat equivalents (cheese, milk, sour cream, dressings, etc.).
Money-saving Tips for Creating a Healthy Meal Plan on a Budget
Saving money on your food is the third element of making a nutritious meal plan on a tight budget. There are several life hacks and money-saving techniques you may use to lower your grocery costs. Additionally, a lot of inexpensive foods are among the healthiest choices you may include in your meal plan.
Meal plan around sales
In order to meal plan around what you already have, you should ideally check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for food that is about to expire. You may reduce food waste and your grocery bill by using up what you have first.
Once you’ve planned meals based on what you have on hand, check your grocery store ads for sales. Then, base the rest of your meal plan on the items that are on sale that week.
Use your leftovers
Your money will go further if you use leftovers. It may be less expensive to purchase more food for one meal than it is to purchase the food required for numerous meals. Cooking huge quantities of food in order to either eat them all at once or freeze them for later use will help you include leftovers into your healthy meal plan.
Even if you don’t have enough leftovers to offer your family another meal, there are several methods to utilize them. The following are some ideas for using leftovers in different meals:
- Eat leftovers as a side dish for another meal
- Add leftovers to a casserole or soup
- Use leftover meat to make a sandwich or add it to a garden salad
- Make an omelet with your leftover veggies and meats
- Use your leftovers as homemade pizza toppings
- Add leftovers to quesadillas or fajitas
Use in-Season produce
Produce is costly, particularly if it is out of season. In your meal plan, try to incorporate seasonal produce. If you require out-of-season produce for a particular recipe, start by checking the freezer section. Fruits and vegetables that are frozen are often less expensive and just as nutritious as those that are fresh.
Buy in bulk
Long-term savings can be achieved by purchasing food in bulk while it is available for dirt cheap costs. Keep a list of the foods you usually buy and their lowest price if you intend to buy in bulk so you can get the best prices.
To prevent food waste, only purchase food you are certain you will use or freeze before it expires. Check the unit pricing before making a purchase at a membership warehouse club and compare it to your lowest price list to be sure you are getting a good bargain.
Eat one meatless meal per week
Usually, the most expensive component of any meal is the meat. Eliminating meat from at least one meal a week will assist if you’re attempting to keep grocery expenses down and prepare affordable meals for your family.
But make sure to substitute similarly nourishing foods for the meat to keep your meals healthy. You eliminate necessary protein from a meal when you leave out the meat. With these protein-rich meals, you can replenish your diet’s protein intake:
- Nuts and Nut Butters
- Cottage Cheese
Final Thoughts on Making a Budget-friendly Healthy Meal Plan
You can provide your family with inexpensive, wholesome meals. Making a nutritious meal plan does need work. But when you have a reliable strategy for meal planning, all you need to know about healthy eating is how to choose the correct foods. Then, employ some of the above-discussed money-saving techniques to lower your food expenses, and you’ll have a healthy meal plan that won’t break the bank that your family will like.
Eat Healthy on a Budget by Planning Ahead
Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains should not be more expensive. You’ll be astonished at how much wonderful stuff you can buy without breaking the bank if you shop wisely and prepare ahead of time.
The truth is that a lot of those prepackaged, ready-to-eat items actually cost MORE than homemade ones. Additionally, they frequently contain additional calories, saturated fat, salt, and added sweets.
Therefore, stop making excuses since obtaining the nutrient-dense, fiber-rich meals your body need is simpler and more affordable than you might think.
Planning ahead is key to success.
Preparing menus and grocery lists ahead of time can keep you from making impulse food choices, which often aren’t healthy. With a little planning, you can make the healthy choice the easy choice.
- Plan out one or two weeks of healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Take a few minutes over the weekend to go through your favorite healthy recipes and map out your meal plan. Update your go-to list as you come across new recipes, and don’t be afraid to try new things!
- Use a grocery list or meal-planning app with a grocery list feature. This will help you quickly grab the ingredients you need for your healthy meal plan.
- If your work week is crazy, cook over the weekend and store pre-portioned meals in the fridge or freezer. Now this is a real time and money saver! Just thaw and reheat for hassle-free lunches and dinners.
- Cut up fruits and vegetables and keep them handy in the fridge, or pre-pack individual servings for when you’re on the go. You’ll have ready-made healthy snacks and meal ingredients at your fingertips.
Shop smart to save big.
- Knowing how to navigate the grocery store can save time and money.
- Keep an eye out for specials. Stock up on frozen and canned produce when it’s on sale.
- Use coupons and join store rewards programs. You’ll be more aware of what’s on sale and able to work it into your meal planning.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season. For example, blueberries cost less in spring and summer, when they’re in season. You’ll pay more in the fall and winter when they’re shipped from warmer climates.
- Skip the ready-made foods and individually-packaged snacks. The convenience may be tempting but it’s usually healthier and cheaper to prepare these same foods at home. So aim your cart in another direction.
- Buy local – at a farmer’s market or store. The produce may be fresher because it wasn’t picked before ripening to travel on a truck long-distance to get to you. You’ll know where your food is coming from and help your local economy. You can save money by buying in bulk and splitting the cost with friends or family.
Practices makes perfect.
- Don’t give up! Putting a new healthy routine in place doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t give up!
- Make healthy changes one step at a time. You and your family won’t feel blindsided or deprived of all of your favorites if the changes are gradual.
- Involve the whole family. Kids can help with meal planning, grocery shopping and even cooking. Let each family member be chef for a day and take charge of a particular meal. Encourage older kids to make a game of reading food labels at the grocery store. Let younger kids pick out new types of fruits and vegetables to try. Get more budget-friendly tips online. The AHA has got your back in the grocery store and the kitchen.