How to Meal Plan on a Budget

How to Meal Plan on a Budget

  1. Get out a calendar, a notepad, and a pen. I like to use a large weekly calendar so I have big blocks to write in.
  2. Fill in any plans you know about. (ie. Soccer on Tuesday at 6 pm). Block off any days you know you won’t be home to eat. Take special note of any days you plan to entertain.
  3. Have a quick peek in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to see if there are any foods that need used up this week. Take a mental note or jot them down in your notepad.
  4. Gather your favorite recipes– your binder of tried-and-true recipes, your prized cookbook, your Pinterest boards, or whatever form you keep your favourites in.
  5. Check out the weekly food specials from stores in you area. Circle any stand-out specials, especially on meats or vegetables.
  6. Refer back to your recipes and see what recipes use ingredients that are also on sale this week. (For example, if you enjoy lime beef stew and you notice that beef, canned tomatoes and limes are on sale- this is definitely the week to have it!) Also check which recipes would use up ingredients you already have that “must-go” this week.
  7. Once you pick a recipe to make, write it on the calendar.
  8. Make a shopping list. Write down the name of each store you plan to shop at. Underneath, write down any sale or regular-priced items you plan to buy there.
  9. Repeat until you’ve filled in all your meals, accounting for using up leftovers.
  10. At the end, you will have a completed shopping list, organized by store. You will be ready to take advantage of all the best sales AND you will have your whole week’s menu planned. Now that deserves a pat on the back!


I tend to breeze through most of the grocery flyers for my area, but I never shop at more than 2 to 3 stores each week. There is a point of diminishing returns on shopping the weekly specials. There is just no point in running around (wasting gas, time and energy!) to save 20 cents on broccoli.


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