This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
Menu Planning on a Budget doesn’t have to be scary. In fact the simple act of actually planning your menu will help you stick to your budget. But, I also have a few more tricks up my sleeve for staying on budget while menu planning.
Menu Planning on a Budget
Picture this if you will: you go to the grocery store and stock your fridge full of yummy food. You splurge on a few things that look really tasty. You plan for a homemade dinner complete with all the fixings. Then your child’s practice runs late, everyone is starving, and you are left staring blankly at your fridge wondering what to make for dinner. Have you thrown away something you intended to cook and just didn’t get around to it before it spoiled? This has happened to me on more than one occasion, and I know I’m not alone. One of the easiest ways to prevent food waste and trim your budget is to plan your meals ahead of time. I have great resources, tips, and meal ideas to help get you started!
Organization will be key to planning out a menu. My Monthly and Weekly Menu Planners are great resources to guide you. Plan your family meals based on your week, what you have already, and what you need to add to your grocery list. Here are some great tips to help you on your way:
A good chunk of the grocery budget is typically spent on meat. Cut the fat from your budget by replacing meat with vegetarian options a few nights a week. Chances are you won’t miss it.
Take advantage of your well-stocked pantry when cooking. Items like grains, beans, pasta, and canned goods can be delicious, filling, and inexpensive per serving.
Swap Expensive Items
You don’t have to give up your favorite recipes just because you are watching your wallet. Replace expensive items for their less costly counterparts. Instead of splurging on aged balsamic vinegar, you can let it reduce in a saucepan till the flavors are concentrated. Use thin sliced deli ham in place of that pricey prosciutto. A little creativity and you might come up with a new family favorite.
Many people cringe when they think of leftovers, but you don’t have to. By using them in a different way, your family won’t even notice. Leftover veggies can be made into veggie soup or thrown in a casserole. Fruit can be transformed into smoothies. Rice from earlier can be turned into a stir fry. Save the rind from your hard cheese to use in a cheese sauce or save a few chunks for a fondue.
Other ways to save money on groceries & shopping:
Use your grocery store’s app to download coupons with just a click. The coupons are applied at checkout automatically.
Order groceries for pick up or delivery (I love this place…join and get some free pizzas with your first order). Less impulse buys.
Sign up for this app (use code: pxwyeri when you join) and add your loyalty cards…then after you make your shopping list go on and click the cash back on any items you will be buying. It will do the rest for you. Or if you shop at a store without a loyalty card…you can go in after you shop and add your items purchased and take a pic of the receipt. Super Duper Easy!
I also just recently found this app (use my referral code to get 3,000 points when you join). Instead of cash, you earn points that you trade in for gift cards. It’s so easy and no preplanning or selecting offers…just snap a pic of your receipt and it does the work for you.
Lastly, for online shopping I use this website to earn a % back on my online purchases from Amazon to hotels to clothes stores. Pretty much every store I shop at is there and I earn a % back just for clicking through their link. Plus, get a bonus $10 back after your first purchase.
It’s little things like these that start to add up. They take very little effort, but if you are diligent you can stick to your budget!
Weekly Menu on a Budget
Here I have used my weekly printable to plan out my week. Notice I am making roasted chicken on Sunday and will use up leftovers in Wednesday’s supper. Same for Tuesday’s Gingered Pork; I will make a larger pot of rice to use in my Veggie Fried Rice on Friday. I have a couple nights of vegetarian dishes, and a few dishes where I use less expensive swaps like black olives instead of kalamata for my Greek Pasta. Our busier nights are typically faster 15 Minute Suppers. I might normally plan for breakfasts and lunches, but this should give you a few ideas. Click for the recipes below.
Learning how to menu plan on a budget gets easier the more you do it. Prmise!
Don’t forget to check out the other On a Budget posts.
Holiday Decorating on a Budget
How to Plan a Trip to Disney on a Budget
Party Favors on a Budget
Family Vacations on a Budget
31 Recipes on a Budget
Feeding a Family on a Budget
Having Fun on a Budget
Snack Ideas on a Budget
Groceries on a Budget
Military Living on a Budget
Cooking Healthy on a Budget
Dinner Party on a Budget