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13 Tips to Meal Plan on a Budget

August 24, 2021
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13 Tips to Meal Plan on a Budget

Meal planning can be an easy way to make healthy meals without breaking the bank. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can make sure you don’t go over your budget or buy foods you won’t eat. 

Here are some simple tips to meal plan on a budget:  

  1. Make a list of meals you want to eat during the week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. For ideas, visit: myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen 
  2. Pick meals that you can make in batches and save in the fridge for several days—leftovers can save you time and money  
  3. Before you go to the grocery store, check your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Take note of what ingredients you already have at home to save time and money, and make a note about which meals use many of those ingredients so you can buy less
  4. For healthier, budget-friendly grains, choose whole grain rice and pasta 
  5. For meat and poultry, buying a family or value size can help you save money—you can freeze what you don’t use and save it for a different meal
  6. Buy canned foods—they last longer than fresh foods (but be sure to read labels for added fat, sugar, and salt)  
  7. Check what’s “in season” when buying fresh produce; it will be less expensive and have more flavor. Be sure to buy only what you can use before it spoils  
  8. Check the sell by date and make sure you are getting the freshest products
  9. Avoid soda and other sugary drinks; water is more budget-friendly—and healthier!  
  10. Check flyers for coupons or deals on the ingredients you need  
  11. Make a grocery list of everything you need before you leave your house and stick to it
  12. Eat before you shop. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices 
  13. Ask your friends and family where they get bargains! Dollar stores and wholesale clubs may offer good deals

Make sure you keep it simple! Healthy meals don’t have to be complicated, and fewer items means you’ll spend less money. Ready to get started? Get recipe ideas from myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen

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