Menu Planning

How to Plan Family Meals On A Budget

When you have a family to feed, buying groceries every week can get expensive. As moms, we want to feed our kids the best foods—even if they hate it.

But you don’t have to go broke in the process.

There are plenty of ways you can shop AND save to feed your family! In fact, if you’re anything like me and you can’t afford to keep eating all of your money, learning how to meal plan on a budget will be a game-changer for your finances.

But it won’t happen overnight. You need to give yourself time to make weekly meal planning a habit. Because you can’t just go grabbing random ingredients from the store and expect to stay on budget.

You have to be intentional about the meals you serve your family. And once you do, you just might cut your grocery bill in half (like we did!).

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So if you need help with getting your grocery bill under control, here are five easy ways to save money meal planning on a budget:

1. Plan to eat the same meals.

You probably don’t notice that when you eat the same budget-friendly meals in rotation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner it keeps your grocery bill under control.

Now, our grocery bill is pretty predictable at around $100 every week because we plan to eat a lot of the same things. Then for dinner, we try one new recipe at a time so we don’t get sick of our favorites.

2. Plan to eat from your pantry.

If you need meal ideas, start with the ingredients that you don’t need to buy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found items like noodles, sauces & condiments, or rice buried in my cabinets that I turned into easy meals!

So check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what meals you can make from what you already have! Sometimes those ingredients will help you put together meals you would’ve never thought of, which will save you time and money as you’re meal planning.

3. Plan to eat less meat.

The biggest budget buster for groceries is always buying meat. So to offset this cost, I recommend you have a meatless day on your menu once a week.

You can make homemade pizza or find kid-friendly vegetarian recipes on Pinterest to try with your family!

But if you prefer to make meat the star of every meal, chicken is definitely one of the cheapest cuts of meat you can buy. And there are SO MANY ways you can cook with chicken—from pulled chicken sandwiches to chicken tacos, homemade chicken nuggets, and southern fried chicken (yum!).

(I cook with chicken a LOT and my kids don’t complain!)

4. Plan to eat leftovers.

Once or twice a week I will plan to make a Stretch Meal—which is one meal intended to stretch over two days!

It gives me a break from cooking and it helps our grocery budget stretch further.

When I make these Stretch Meals, I always store the leftovers inside food storage containers (these are the ones we have!) to keep it fresh to eat the next day!

But you can also use the leftovers from your Stretch Meals to pack lunches instead of ordering food.

5. Plan around sales.

Some moms plan their ENTIRE menu around what’s on sale every week! (I have to admit, I’m not that creative.) The best way to do this is to grab the sales ad from your favorite store before you go shopping.

Then, you can plan what you’re going to make for dinner during the week using the ingredients that you find from the sales ad!

Plus, planning your menu around sales is a smart way to save money on meat and other groceries without using coupons. Because you can stock up and freeze it for later, or treat your family to a steak or roast beef dinner without going over budget!

So what’s next?

You certainly don’t have to use all of these methods to stay on budget. You can try a few at a time and or mix and match until you find the right formula that works for you!

These days, I primarily plan to eat the same meals, plan to eat leftovers, and plan to eat from my pantry because combining all three is helping me kill it! I’m sure if I also started planning around sales, I could save even more money on groceries, but I supplement this by shopping at grocery stores that already have very low prices (Walmart and Aldi are my fav!).

So now that you know how to successfully meal plan around your grocery budget, here are more tips to reduce your food spending even more:

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