How To Plan Frugal Meals

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Since Luke and I downsized our home and I am finally coming out of my pregnancy haze, I have sat down with pencil and paper and began eeking out our budget. We have some major goals for next year and we want to get serious about accomplishing those goals. After all, the whole reason we downsized was to better place ourselves in a position to gain financial freedom. Now, I am no stranger to frugal meal planning, but here lately the grocery bills + eating out have been totally draining our budget. My number one priority right now is to get this area of our spending under control and plan frugal meals.

how to plan frugal meals

My budget is $225 a week. That covers groceries and toiletries. Remember, we are a family of 9. If you have less people in your family, your budget may be lower.

With inflation causing the price of gas and groceries to go up higher than I’ve ever seen, I’ve had to get creative with my grocery budget.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about what meals I want to plan this summer. We do very basic things for breakfast: cereal, eggs/bacon, yogurt, etc. Lunch is usually leftovers or a grilled cheese or salad.

So, what about dinner? There are so many simple and delicious meals you can make with less expensive ingredients.

Here are just a few of my favorite frugal recipes; salmon patties, chili mac, and pinto beans and rice.

How To Plan Frugal Meals

Once you have an idea of the frugal meals you want to make, it’s probably a good idea to check the sales at your local grocery store. We shop at the commissary on base, so I use their website to look up sales and load my rewards card.

Many other grocery stores also have websites that include their sales, so I encourage you to check out your store’s website, sign up for any rewards cards they may offer and plan ahead.

Taking a little time to plan your trip will make all the difference.

My Frugal Meal Action Plan

Grocery receipt and groceries

Decide how often you want to shop.

We used to shop once a month, but that is not working for us right now. We shop weekly and occasionally every other week. I have an ebook available all about once a month grocery shopping if you’re interested. 

Round up your family’s favorite meal ideas and make a master list of meals.

This will be your master list of meals that you can pull from if you’re stumped for ideas. I’ve started keeping all of my shopping lists and my favorite meals list in my Clean and Organized Home Binder.

Peruse sales flyers of your favorite stores and mark any items you can use.

Adjust your meal plan.

Is there a great sale on turkeys? Add that to your plan. Sale items can really help lower your grocery budget.

Perfect your meal plan. 

Run through your meal plan one more time and make sure that you have enough meals planned. 

Creating a frugal meal plan.

Make your shopping list. 

Go through your pantry and figure out what items you will need to purchase on your shopping trip. 

Look for any coupons you can use, but DO NOT use coupons to buy items you would not normally purchase.

Go to the store with a full belly, and if you can swing it, without your entourage of little ones.

That’s not always, but it helps me concentrate if I’m alone. 

Take cash and a calculator.

Stick to your list and your budget! My iPhone makes it really easy for me to keep my grocery list and calculator handy.

Frugal grocery shopping

Don’t forget leftovers! 

You can use leftovers creatively. You can have the same meals twice in one week, or you can use leftover side dish as an accompaniment to your main dish the next night. You can also use leftovers for lunch. Don’t waste your food! For example, we had leftover rice and broccoli from last night’s meal. I simply baked some chicken breasts with McCormick’s chicken seasoning and used our leftover sides again. Easy, peasy, and tasty!

Now you’re all set to save on your grocery budget. 

Want access to all of our homemaking printables including my master grocery list and a printable version of the frugal meal action plan? Join our homemaking community to get access to the Homemaker’s Resource Library below!

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    More Tips for Planning Frugal Meals

    • Plan for some meatless meals. Meat can be a big budget buster, so try some meatless dishes.
    • Buy in bulk. Be careful with this one, but you can save money by buying in bulk. Make sure you check the price per unit to ensure you are indeed saving money.
    • Learn to cook from scratch. There’s no way around this. Making your own snacks, pancakes, muffins, etc will save you money over buying pre-made, pre-packaged items.

    More Resources to Help Plan Frugal Meals

    You may also like:

    Our 2016 One Icome Budget

    Our 2016 One Income Budget (The Real Numbers)


    raising a family

    How To Raise a Family on One Income

    5 Budget Busters

    5 Big Budget Busters


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    1. Thank you for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Frugal meals are important around here too!

      ~ JES @ Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth

    2. Hey Joanie! I enjoyed your post. Frugal meal planning is super important to us in my household too. We have to cut costs where ever we can. I am actually a new blogger and just got my site up and going a few weeks ago. I wrote a post on the way that I budget for groceries – it’s a different sort of method but it works pretty well for keeping us on budget. If you’re interested you can check it out here –
      I really like your site and will definitely be subscribing!
      Thanks and have a great day 🙂
      -Rachel @ Tidy&Teal

    3. We save so much by meal planning. We do things in a different order. I buy meat that is on sale and freeze a lot of it and then I meal plan for the whole month based on what is in the freezer. That way I don’t have to worry about buying things that fit the meal plan because I already have it. This leaves me free to continue to stock up on meat when I find it at the rock bottom prices. I bought 12 chickens last month, roasted them all in the overn (6 at a time since that was what fit) and then removed the cooked meat and froze it. It makes dinner prep so fast too when the meats already cooked. I just have to reheat and make some sides and we are good to go.

    4. I am still trying to adjust to being empty nesters. Which means learning to make smaller meals. When this doesn’t work I label and freeze. Then I have ready frozen meals when I’m not in the mood to cook or things are hectic

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