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One of the best ways to save money on your grocery bill is to plan your meals. Meal planning can seem overwhelming for those who are just starting out, especially if you’re trying to stick to a small budget. Today I’m going to share with you my top tips for How to Meal Plan on a Tight Budget.
Use What You Have
One of the easiest ways to save money when meal planning is to plan as many meals as you can around what you already have in your pantry. I can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. If you’re going to make a tight grocery budget work, then you have to be making the most of what you already have in the house. Make a game out of it and see how many meals per week you can plan using ingredients from your pantry. I aim for 2-3 meals from the pantry per week.
Buy What’s on Sale
The next best way to save money when meal planning is to check your local grocery store’s sales flyer and plan meals around what is on sale that week. For example, if Aldi has Chicken Thighs on sale for .89/lb as they often do, I will plan 1-2 meals around them that week such as my Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Thighs. Also, if potatoes and eggs are on sale then I will plan on making my Country Breakfast Bowls. Don’t be afraid to stock up as much as you can on sale items so that you have them when you need them in the future. Also, be sure to download the IBOTTA app to start earning cash back on your grocery purchases to save even more. Plus, you get an extra $1 when you submit your first rebate!
Use Less Meat/Dairy
Two of the biggest budget busters in the grocery store are meat and dairy. If you can plan a few meals each week that are meat- and dairy-free then you are sure to save money. Try planning meals around cheap proteins like beans or eggs such as my Slow Cooker Pinto Beans with Homemade Cornbread or my Bean & Cheese Freezer Burritos (obviously this one has dairy).
Cook with Frugal Foods
Another great way to save money when meal planning is to plan your meals around inexpensive foods. Try oatmeal for breakfast, Southwest Pasta Salad for lunch and Super Simple Beans & Rice for dinner. Check out my post 35 Frugal Foods to Buy When You’re Broke for a list of super frugal foods.
Keep Things Simple
Don’t be afraid to plan simple meals because it will make your life easier and save you money. I plan Homemade Waffles and Scrambled Eggs for dinner every Friday night because it’s easy and filling. Check out my list of 30 Frugal Meal Ideas (for when you’re broke) and 35 Frugal Recipes to Make When your Broke for tons of frugal ideas and inspiration.
Be sure to download your FREE Weekly Meal Planning Printable!
Do you meal plan? What’s your go-to frugal meal? I’d love to know!