If you’re trying to create a meal plan but you’re on a budget, it can be quite difficult to find something affordable while staying healthy. However, with the right meal plan, you can still save money while still maintaining a healthy and varied diet.
Here are some tips on how to create the right meal plan for you on a budget.
Check what you have before shopping
Before you make a meal plan for the week, it’s a good idea to have a look and see what ingredients you already have. This can not only save you some money on your weekly shop, but might just give you some recipe inspiration.
Doing this can also help you reduce the amount of food you’re wasting. You never know when you might find a great ingredient that could go out of date if left for too long.
Plan meals around cheaper staples
Whenever you do your shopping, it’s a good idea to buy a few cheaper staples that have a long shelf life. That way you will have some of the more common elements of your meals to hand most of the time. Rice and pasta are staples that are well worth keeping stocked up in your cupboard.
There are plenty of tinned foods that you should consider keeping well stocked as well. For example, chopped tomatoes are versatile while still being good for you. Tinned or frozen vegetables are also good to have to hand.
If you have time over a weekend or whenever you have some free time, batch cooking can be a great way of saving money. By cooking a big batch of food and then freezing some portions, you could have enough for one or two meals a week for three or four weeks.
If you’re unsure about how long certain foods will last in the fridge or freezer, the NHS have a helpful guide to give you an idea of what meals you can keep for longer.
Leftovers can be very important when trying to stay on a budget. Whenever you have food leftover after a meal, always think about how it could be used as leftovers instead of throwing it away.
For example, if you have had a roast chicken for Sunday lunch, any leftover chicken can be put in the fridge and had cold over the next couple days—you could try it in sandwiches, a salad, or as an accompaniment with a jacket potato.
Don’t sacrifice variety
Even though you’re sticking to a tight budget, that doesn’t mean that you need to eat the same meals all the time. What you eat doesn’t have to be bland either. If you put the time aside to properly plan your meals, you can make sure that you don’t lose out on variety.
Have a look online and see if you can find some recipes that you think would suit your budget and diet. The BBC have a collection of budget recipes that’s a useful recourse.
Whenever you try a recipe you like, keep a record of it and refer make to it in a few weeks’ time. By doing this, you can help keep your diet varied and interesting. And you will be able to create a meal plan for the week in next to no time if you have some recipes you can choose from.
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