I know, I know, meal planning is no fun. But it’s also no secret that meal planning is a HUGE budget saver! Especially during these times of inflation and rising grocery prices, it’s important that we do everything we can to keep our money in check. So lets come up with some budget friendly ways to meal plan around inflation and ever-increasing grocery prices.
1. Meal Plan What You Have
Before you meal plan go take an inventory. And yes, I’m talking about an actual inventory of what you have in your fridge, freezer, deep freezer, pantry, and spare fridge (doesn’t it seem like everyone has an extra fridge in the garage these days??). Write down what you have and create your list of meals off that before creating a list of meals you’d like to have for the week. There’s no better way to create a budget friendly meal plan than to work with what you already have on hand!
2. Make a Family Favorites List
If you’ve read my book, Getting Good with Money you know all about my blue binder sitting in my pantry that has all my family’s favorite recipes in it. You don’t have to necessarily create a binder but you need to have at least a list of your family’s favorite meals. Keep these meals in rotation. You already know that your family loves these meals which means they’ll actually get eaten! And less food waste is so important (especially right now with rising food prices). So make sure to keep these meals in the rotation when you’re making your budget friendly meal plans.
3. Only Buy What You’ll Eat
Right now isn’t the time to experiment with crazy new ingredients that you’re not sure everyone in your family will enjoy. That doesn’t mean you can’t try new recipes (I have 32 new recipes you can try in my meal planning workbook here) but make sure you’re choosing recipes that use super-specific brand new ingredients that you’ve never tried before. And if they do use those ingredients, Google substitutions for them until you find a substitute that your family will actually eat.
4. Remember the Filler!
If you read my blog post about keeping your grocery budget in check you know all about the fillers! Filler foods are foods that are added to a dish to stretch the dish. Typically filler foods are less expensive foods like cabbage and onions but will stretch the meal so you can use less of the expensive ingredients like meat. So when you’re meal planning look for filler items that you can add to a meal.
- Cabbage and shredded carrots go great with tacos!
- Potatoes added to the skillet meal will stretch it x 2!
- Spinach added to your pasta will give you more nutrients.
- Rice added to those quesadillas will stretch that quesadilla meat so you can make more for lunch the next day!
There’s a ton of variety out there when it comes to filler foods. Just ask yourself “what can I add to this meal that will stretch it further” and see where it takes you!
5. Actually Eat what You Make
Okay, I know this seems obvious but I’ve just got to say it. You can meal plan all you want to but if you don’t actually eat the food that you buy then what’s the point? You have to actually eat the food. That’s why you need to meal plan using foods you know your family will eat. There’s no point in trying to reign in the grocery budget and beat rising food costs if you’re not going to eat the food your hard-earned money bought. That’s why you need to also make sure you…
6. Meal Plan Around Your Week
Yep. If you want to make sure the meal plan you create works for your family you have to actually meal plan around your week. So before sitting down to create your meal plan, first look over your calendar and see what you have going on that week. If you’re going to be out of the house or rushing around a lot in the upcoming week plan a lot of crockpot meals or super quick throw-together kinds of meals. This is the wrong time to try to make a recipe with 25 different steps and a long cooking time because you don’t have the time to do it! Just be realistic with yourself on what your week looks like and plan around it.
7. Shortcut Shortcut!
Be willing to use shortcuts whenever possible. Seriously. Buy frozen veggies instead of fresh ones if you have trouble getting vegetables on the table. Buy those “steam in the bag” ones and you can microwave them and toss them with a little avocado oil and salt and pepper and boom! Veggies are done! No prep work. If you struggle to find time to make those whole chickens you keep buying, consider buying rotisserie chickens instead. No prep. No cooking. You can even while the chicken is still hot from the store, shred the meat and store it for a later date!
Alright! If you’ve got a tip to make meal planning easier despite rising costs please share it below! We all love budget friendly meal plan ideas! And if you want even more meal planning tips and tricks from me along with recipes and an already done for you meal plan, head here to grab my Meal Planning Made Easy workbook! I’ve done the hard work for you!
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