Save Money and Time with Meal Planning

Money Matters

Groceries can eat up a big chunk of your budget — and it’s tough to cut costs on food. Planning your meals may help you save money and time. And it may help you have a healthier diet.

When you plan meals ahead of time, you may find that you:

  • Buy only what you need — and use it before it spoils. Less waste means more money in your pocket.
  • Dine out (or buy prepared foods) less often. Restaurant food can be costly. And prepared foods may contain ingredients that aren’t healthy.
  • Have more free time. Instead of starting from scratch, prepping your food in advance can help meals come together quickly on busy evenings.

3 steps to weekly meal-planning success

  1. Choose your menu. Set aside some time to decide on the meals you want to prepare throughout the week. Some things to consider:
    • Find out what foods your family members enjoy. Does your family have a favorite lunch recipe? Pencil it in more often.
    • Take a look through your fridge, freezer and cabinets. Find out what foods you already have, and plan some meals using them.
    • Keep leftovers in mind. Serving meat on Monday? Plan to make a stew, soup or pasta with the leftovers on Tuesday. Use herbs and other kitchen staples, like tomato sauce, to give your leftovers a fresh flavor.
  2. Make a list. As you plan your meals, note which foods you’ll need to buy. Knowing what you’ll need makes shopping more efficient.
  3. Set aside a prep day. Have a busy week ahead? Take time on the weekend to prepare meals in advance. For instance, you might chop and bag veggies for snacks and make and freeze soups or casseroles for quick cooking throughout the week.

Looking for meal-planning ideas? Find new favorite recipes online. Check out these delicious and nutritious ideas.

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; U.S. Department of Agriculture