How to make a meal plan on a budget
- Planning to Stay Ahead: This PDF helps organize your income and expenses so you learn how best to budget your money and stay on track, especially at the grocery store.
- Ideas for Planning Thrifty Meals: This university publication focuses on planning for using leftovers, proper portions and homemade mixes to save money on every meal.
- Cooking for 1 or 2 People: Here’s a printable PDF that helps plan smaller recipes for less waste, stagnate the ripening of fruits, and provides other useful tips for cooking for 2 or fewer.
- Five Best Meal Planning Apps: Use these mobile device apps to find and store recipes. Cooking more at home will save you money.
Save While Eating Healthy
- Shopping for In-Season Produce: Buying foods that are in season is a very easy way to save a lot of money on food. This list organizes in-season foods by the month.
- How to Shop in Bulk: Learn what is smart to buy in bulk, like basic pantry essentials such as rice, spices, and pastas, as well as how to properly store your bulk purchases.
- How to Read Food Labels: Understanding the information on food labels helps you pick the healthiest foods within your grocery budget.
- 10 Cheap Foods Nutritionists Love: These foods, like sweet potatoes and even popcorn, were chosen by WebMD nutritionists as some of the healthiest snacks you can buy on a budget.
- 44 Healthy Foods under $1: Per serving, these foods give you the most bang for your buck. This list even categorizes by food group to make meal planning easier.
- Fresh, Canned or Frozen?: Canned and frozen foods are cheaper than fresh, but frozen often wins out with better nutrition than canned.
How to coupon
- Couponing Effectively: Find out where to find coupons and how to organize them, as well as how to pick the best stores to shop based on coupon policies.
- Advanced Couponing: Once you have the basics down, these tips and tricks help you find, combine, and use coupons for maximum savings.
- Coupon Apps for Mobile Devices: Search for useful coupons on your brief periods of down time with these top rated apps for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.
Healthy dining out on a budget
- Tips for Choosing Healthier Options: Geared toward fast food restaurants, these tips for finding healthier options like salads and smaller portions can be nutritious, cheap and fast.
- 30 Surprisingly Healthy Fast Foods: These menu options from the most popular drive-thrus give you healthy and cheap food even if you’re on-the-go.
- Healthy Dining Finder: This dietician-run website gives information on healthy eating at restaurants based on your zip code and budget.
Cheap, healthy recipes
- 87 Cheap and Healthy Lunches and Dinners: Keep some variety with this wide array of nutritious recipes, which includes vegetarian options.
- Feed Four for Under $10: Here are over 100 recipes designed to feed a family of 4. These recipes even include the sides that round out your plate.
- Cheap and Healthy Snacks and Sides: With over 400 ideas and recipes, this article helps you find satiating, healthy foods for budget-friendly snacks and sides.
Nutritional supplements on a budget
Ready to Start Eating Healthy on a Budget?
Here’s a simple breakdown of the steps you can take to start saving on your food budget.
Plan ahead, prep ahead, and cook ahead when possible. Also try to Keep It Simple so you can stick with this budget and healthy eating plan.
Plan Your Meals: By taking as little as 15 minutes a week, you can avoid having to eat out. Make sure to plan for snacks with treats like nuts, seeds and popcorn. It can be helpful to plan the week’s meals around the store’s sales on fresh food.
Cook in Bulk: Set aside a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to prepare several meals at once. You can then freeze or refrigerate meals and sides that can be popped into the microwave after work ¬– no more stopping for fast food because you’re too tired to cook! You can also prep food for your lunches using mason jars for layered salads and sectioned containers for sandwiches, fruits, etc. Remember that every meal you make at home is saving money that you would’ve had to spend eating out.
Stick with what you know – for the most part: Try to avoid making too many new recipes in one week. If the meals don’t turn out, you may be setting yourself up for several meals out plus the cost of that wasted grocery food. Master a few simple recipes, even if it’s just boiled pasta with canned sauce, and slowly branch out from there.
Coupon for what you already need: Try not to use coupons for impulse purchases. That’s just spending more than you would have under the guise of “saving.” Instead, make a master list of pantry items you always want or need, like cereal, rice, canned tuna, etc., and keep an eye out for relevant coupons. Also check your food’s packaging for coupons you can use at check-out or save for next time.
Do check for sales: With apps like Favado or your Sunday paper, compare local grocery store sales. It’s not usually worth driving from store to store (whatever you save is spent in time and gas), but by checking out the sales you can choose the best grocery store for that week. These sales are great for fresh food and produce.
Make a grocery list: Having a weekly grocery list can help you stay on track. You don’t want to forget anything and waste time running back to the store, but you also don’t want to end up impulse buying food you don’t need, especially unhealthy ones.
Allow a few “cheats”: Eating healthy can be a tricky transition, especially if you’re cutting out your favorite foods completely. Try recipes to make your favorites healthier, like swapping turkey for beef in your burgers. And don’t be above buying a box of breakfast pastries if it means there’s a snack you enjoy that can help you avoid eating out.