Meal Planning Basics

  1. Inventory your fridge and pantry. You don’t want to let food you already have go to waste, or buy more that you don’t need!

  2. Make a list of meals and snacks you want to make for the week(s) using current food inventory and family involvement. Plan out the week(s) so you know what you will eat and when.

    TIP: Remember to visualize meals that include all food groups - with lots of produce! Think MyPlate.

    TIP: Find recipes for any meals you don’t already know how to make. The internet is a great resource.

  3. Make a list of ingredients (and amounts) you will need to purchase. Try this grocery list template!

  4. Search for coupons or sales for items on your shopping list.

  5. Shop! Remember to stick to your list to prevent food and money waste.

    TIP: Never go grocery shopping while hungry! Research shows that we will not only buy MORE food than we need, but we will also buy unhealthy foods, as well as unnecessary non-food items!

    TIP: Bring your own reusable shopping bags to reduce plastic bags. Also bring a cooler to keep food cool if you will spend time traveling to multiple stores for better price deals.

  6. As soon as you get home, do some meal preparation: wash and chop vegetables, freeze proteins you won’t use within a few days, etc.

    TIP: Get the whole family involved! Children are more likely to try new foods if they are involved.

  7. Stick to your plan so that food waste is minimized. Re-purpose leftovers or unused perishables as needed in other dishes.


Grocery Budget Calculator:

See an estimated amount it would cost per day and month to meet the USDA Dietary Guidelines based on current food prices and your habits.



Helpful Budgeting & Coupon Apps:

  • Every Dollar

  • Mint

  • You Need a Budget

  • Ibotta

  • Grocery iQ

  • SnipSnap

Helpful Food & Health Apps:

  • Food Keeper

  • MyFitnessPal

  • Fooducate

  • Health2Sync

  • MyNetDiary Calorie Counter

10 Nutritious Food Items for a Limited Budget:

  1. Nut butter

  2. Whole wheat bread

  3. Tuna

  4. Dried beans

  5. Rice

  6. Pasta

  7. Milk/Yogurt

  8. Eggs

  9. Spaghetti sauce

  10. Fruits/Vegetables

Additional “shopping on a budget tips.”


Shopping Seasonal, Local, and in Your Own Backyard

Shopping for in-season produce is generally less costly because there is a greater supply of the item, driving the cost down at the grocery store.

Shopping LOCAL is even better because it keeps dollars in your local economy and supports your neighbors!

Shopping in your own backyard is, well, free! Starting a garden is a great way to keep a supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs available. Freeze extra produce from summer harvests for the colder seasons later on. If you don’t have a lot of space to work with, container gardens are an easy way to start a few plants (example: tomatoes, herbs, strawberries)