Want to cut your grocery bill while still eating the delicious foods you enjoy? You can! I’ve rounded up my top budget meal planning tips that allow me to get out of the grocery store for under $75!

Now, I will say that the $75 is for two adults. My husband and I don’t have kids so there are no additional mouths to feed. However, we do allow yourselves to purchase what we want, there is no “skimping”!

Money coming out of a cart due to budget meal planning

How Budget Meal Planning Saves You Cash

I don’t follow a diet or any food rules. I eat intuitively and simply eat what I want, when I want. Yet, I DO still meal plan. Why? Because it makes my life way easier and saves me cash.

I have an entire blog post on how to meal plan for intuitive eating, so be sure to check that full run-down out. But, basically, you have to be practical. While I allow myself to eat whatever I want, whenever. Sometimes that’s not feasible! Not every meal is going to be mind blowing or exactly the food that you’re craving in the moment.

The key to budget meal planning is to identify a few key pieces of meals that satisfy you the most like flavors, texture, etc. I’ll dive into how you can go about doing this in a second!

budget meal planning budget form

How Does Meal Planning Save Money?

Absolutely! One study found that meal planning helped people save $25 per day! Budget meal planning helps you to purchase only the foods you’re going to actually consume, yet leaves wiggle room for those fun foods you just want to have around the house. (Looking at you, Girl Scout Cookies!)

Americans are spending more money on food due to price increases and increased spending on eating out. So, if it feels like your budget is out of control- this might be part of the reason!

Another way budget meal planning cuts down your spending is by reducing food waste. It was found that 30-40% of the food supply goes uneaten. WOW! This is because we are horrible at meal planning! As someone who is frugal and not a fan of wasting money, this drives me BONKERS! Well, used to, before I started budget meal planning!

budget meal planning shopping with a list

What Should I Eat On A Very Tight Budget?

When you’re on a tight budget you don’t need to eat ramen noodles all day, every day. Not only is that not going to be satisfying (i.e. BORING!) but it’s also not nutritionally sound. I talk more about this in my post on food jags and eating the same thing every day.

When meal planning on a very tight budget you’re still going to want to purchase a wide variety of foods and pair them together in creative ways. I like to pair together a protein, carb, fruit/veggie, and some fat to create a meal that will fill me. Here are some of the most affordable items in each category:

Protein

  • Canned tuna
  • Dried beans
  • Eggs

Carb

  • Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Oats

Fruit/Veggies

  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Frozen varieties
  • Canned varieties

Fats

  • Olive oil
  • Peanut butter

I’d suggest taking one from each category and pairing them together to create unique meals. For instance, on Monday maybe you have some scrambled eggs with seasoned potatoes and a bag of frozen broccoli. On Tuesday maybe you have a can of tuna over rice with come sauteed spinach! Having a variety of combos will make your meals more interesting and therefor satisfying!

Another pro-tip I have for you is to buy some really great sauces to change up the flavor of the food. I usually have a few on hand, like teriyaki and bbq sauce, so even if I’m eating the same food it can taste different! These usually run less than $2 at Aldi!

veggies coming out of a cart budget meal planning

Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Tight Budget

Here are a few more tips to help you with your budget meal planning!

  • Check the ads before you go to see what is on sale, then plan those items in to your budget meal plan for the week
  • Be realistic. Before making your list for the grocery store, think back to what you ACTUALLY ate the previous week. Don’t plan in broccoli if you historically hate eating broccoli!
  • Don’t go hungry. Seriously thought! Don’t shop when you’re hungry or your impulse purchasing might be extra high!
  • Remember that not every meal has to be amazingly mind blowing, sometimes we just need to buy something to give your bodies nourishment, like setting for canned tuna VS sushi
  • Buy seasonal produce, as this will likely be cheaper since it’s in abundance. You can find a great seasonal produce guide here!
  • Skip special ingredients if a recipe calls for it. Don’t buy ingredients you’ll use once. The meal will likely still taste fabulous with the spices you do have, so stop hunting for that special unicorn curry powder with pixie dust.
  • Take inventory of your pantry and fridge before going grocery shopping. See if you can’t plan a few meals with what you already have.
  • Buy in bulk when you can. If you notice you eat a lot of a certain thing, like say rice or oatmeal. Find out if there are any stores near you who sell in bulk, or check online!

budget meal planning and buying donuts

How To Practice Budget Meal Planning As You Eat Intuitively And Break Food Rules

I mentioned that I eat intuitively and teaching others to do the same- ditch diets- is the work that I do as a Registered Dietitian inside of my membership, The SociEATy. The goal here is allowing yourself to eat ALL foods without guilt, stress or anxiety. A key piece is actually EATING those foods. So, how can you work to eat new foods while sticking to a budget? Great question.

I don’t recommend going out and buying ALL of the foods (cookies, cakes, ice cream, french fries, potato chips, etc.) for a few reasons.

Firstly, doing this will likely overwhelm you. You’ll take 80 steps forward and then the next day panic and take 82 backwards. Now, I’m not saying that this is wrong, but I just simply don’t recommend it for everyone. If this doesn’t overwhelm you, great! But I know for me it did. I encourage everyone to work at their own pace. Start with one “fear food” then see how you feel. I’d rather you take one solid step forward to start and then let that snow ball from there.

Secondly, doing that would wreak havoc on your wallet! It’s just not financially feasible for a lot of us. Again, pick one food to try this week, then maybe pick another the next. Finding food freedom is a marathon, not a sprint!

If you’re struggling with finding food freedom be sure to checkout my free e-book, The Ultimate 5 Step Guide To Food Freedom. In this book I’m taking you through the exact 5 steps that I’ve taken to overcome food rules and ditch dieting for good. Well, myself and now the thousands of other women I teach!

budget meal planning

I hope this post was helpful in showing you how you can save some cash with budget meal planning! Leave a comment if you have any other ideas for ways to save money! I’m ALL ears!

XOXO

-Colleen

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