Plan Healthy Budget-Friendly Meals

Most people like to save money when grocery shopping. A good way to save time and money is to plan meals for the week. Although time for some families may be limited, meal planning is an efficient way to have less shopping trips and food preps during the week. Planning meals can also be beneficial in limiting food waste that can ultimately save money.

Choosing healthy foods when shopping on a budget is possible. These foods can be filling while giving you necessary nutrient content. Foods with fiber like berries, beans, and sweet potatoes not only give you many health benefits but satiety as well. Healthy fat foods like nuts and avocados are also filling. Comparing the cost of healthy filling foods to the costs of salty or sugary snacks that can leave you hungry, can save dollars.1

Plan your meals

Start your weekly plan by thinking of meals that are familiar along with new recipes to try. It can be just a few meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each.2 Just 3 or 4 meals for dinner, for example, can be spread across the entire week having leftovers. Also consider using some of the same foods that can be turned into a different meal. Replacing meat proteins with plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, and soy products, for a couple of meals in the week can also lower the grocery bill.1

Included in your planning should be healthy snacks and drinks. When buying fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks, know how to store them so that they will last. Some can be frozen and eaten later.2 The same approach can be taken when buying spices to flavor your meals, like green onions, peppers, and other herbs.

After the meals have been planned, the food list can be made. See what is already available in your pantry or refrigerator.3 For the rest of the food on the list, checking the grocery store weekly sales flyer may match your food items and save you time while shopping. Using store and manufacturer coupons as well as joining the store loyalty program helps with savings.2 These meal planning strategies also help with upcoming holiday meals.

Shop smart and save

Here are a few things you can do while at the grocery store:

  1. Eat before you shop to limit the temptation of impulse buying that moves you away from the list.
  2. Buy store brands instead of brand name foods when possible.
  3. Most stores have a sale cart or place where they have discounted food. Scan this area for foods that may be on your list.
  4. In addition to grocery stores, farmer’s markets offer low-cost food shopping.2 Farmer’s markets usually have a variety of produce and foods to choose from. Some farmer’s markets also accept SNAP and EBT benefits.


  1. Strategies for eating well on a budget. The Nutrition Source. Accessed October 25, 2020.
  2. American Heart Association. Eating healthy on budget by planning ahead. Accessed October 26, 2020.
  3. S. Department of Agriculture. Plan your weekly meals. Accessed October 25, 2020.






Shari Bresin, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Pasco County Extension
Posted: November 6, 2020

Category: Health & Nutrition, Money Matters, Work & Life
Tags: Food Budget, Groceries, Meal Plan

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