How to Make an Inexpensive Healthy Meal Plan

Are you trying to ensure your family is eating healthy? A meal plan is the best way to plan your meals and keep everything as healthy as possible. Many people can attest to the fact that healthy meals can seem way more expensive to make than regular meals. Today, I’d love to show you how to make an inexpensive healthy meal plan.

How to Make an Inexpensive Healthy Meal Plan

How to make an inexpensive healthy meal plan for families on a budget

Buy or make a cheap calendar

First of all, the best plan of action is to write your meal plan down. It’s nearly impossible to stick with a plan unless it’s written down. I like to use a traditional calendar to write out what we will have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once you have a place to write down what you will make, you can move on to the next step.

Make a list of healthy foods your family likes

I have learned (by trial and error :)) that you will save money by buying what you know your family will eat. If your family loves bananas, apples and carrots, then spend your money buying those delicious fruits and vegetables. You can always try adding one new fruit or vegetable a week in small quantities.

Create a list of healthy meals that are inexpensive

The only way to create an inexpensive healthy meal plan is to make a list. Make a list of all the healthy meals you can think of that keep you on a budget. You may want to put google or Pinterest to use helping you find ideas. I also really like Budget Bytes for recipes! In my household, we try to stick to a main dish, veggie side, and rice/potato side. This helps keep things on budget and simple. For example, barbecued chicken with a side of mixed veggies and baked potato.

Make a shopping list

When you are meal planning healthy meals, you need a shopping list. You don’t want to forget what you need to buy and it helps keep you accountable to eat the healthy meals that you’re planning. A shopping list will help you save your sanity. Write a note in your phone or jot it down on a piece of paper. Depending on the store you shop at, you can even make a shopping list in the store app.

Stay on budget

When you’re planning an inexpensive healthy meal, try to stay on budget. You can do the math of what a meal will cost before you even head to the store. This will help you know how much you need to spend before you even spend it. For example, chicken is $3.99 a pound and you need 3 pounds to make this week’s meals. That’s rounded to $12, which can make about 2 meals for a family of 4.

There you have it, the steps to making an inexpensive healthy meal plan for your family. Take your time, create a budget, and plan each meal out. The most important part is sticking to the meal plan that you took the time to create.

If you really struggle with the idea of creating a meal plan, try out $5 Meal Plan. It happens to be my favorite meal planning service. It’s just $5 a month (the first two weeks are free!), and you get menu plans sent straight to your email along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This service allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know all your inexpensive meal plan secrets in the comments below!

6 Dinner Classics Perfect For Preparing in an Instant Pot

Not only is owning an Instant Pot going to save you money, you should know that some well-loved dinner classics are perfect for whipping up in a jiffy in the machine. Not all Instant Pot recipes need to be fancy, in fact some of the best Instant Pot recipes are comfort food classics that will soon become family favorites. Look at these 6 dinner classics perfect for preparing in an Instant Pot, and be prepared to wow your family and their taste buds!

6 Dinner Classics Perfect For Preparing in an Instant Pot

6 Dinner Classics Perfect For Preparing in an Instant Pot

1. Instant Pot Beef Stew.

What is more comforting than beef stew? Your Instant Pot is perfect for beef stew with all the fixings, including tender beef and fresh vegetables. You can even freeze your beef stew for later or keep it for several days worth of meals. No matter what time of year it is, Instant Pot beef stew can fit the bill when you need some savory and filling comfort food.

2. Instant Pot Spaghetti

Kids love spaghetti, and your Instant Pot can whip it up in no time. Consider using an assortment of fresh herbs, various pastas, and even fresh meat. With your Instant Pot you can experiment with ingredients to create your own unique spaghetti dish. Spaghetti will never be boring again, and you might just create a famous family recipe!

3. Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs make the perfect side dish or appetizer. Having a party? Consider making Swedish Meatballs in your Instant Pot! You can whip up this comfort food classic fast, and in no time have an appetizer or side dish everyone will love. Just grab the toothpicks!

4. Instant Pot Orange Chicken

Ready for some Asian flare? Then Instant Pot Orange Chicken it is! Forget paying big bucks to get this dish via carry out. Instead, make your own in  your Instant Pot. Orange Chicken can be whipped up quickly, and all you need to do is add a side of rice. Delish!

5. Instant Pot BBQ Ribs

Do you think you need to spend all afternoon at the grill to get yummy BBQ ribs? Not with an Instant Pot! You can make your own BBQ ribs in your Instant Pot in no time, using a savory, spicy, or sweet sauce of your choice to get the perfect rib flavor.

6. Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

What kid doesn’t like mac and cheese? There are hundreds of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipes out there perfect for your evening meal. You can experiment with various kinds of pasta, and even use an assortment of cheeses for a rich, cheesy flavor.

Are you ready to get dinner on the table fast? Then consider these 6 dinner classics perfect for preparing in an Instant Pot and get a tasty dinner classic on the table fast. You will find that the internet is full of tried and true recipes (especially Pinterest!), perfect for a newbie or even the most experienced Instant Pot user to explore. So go ahead and grab an Instant Pot and give these classics a try!

11 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

With a little creativity and some smart shopping, it’s possible to reduce food waste at home quite easily.  If you find yourself  throwing out rotten food on a regular basis, you’re also throwing away the money you used to purchase the food.  And that’s not good for the grocery budget!

Here are 11 smart ways to Reduce Food Waste and save money:

11 Smart ways to reduce food waste at home.

Create a Meal Plan

Creating a meal plan is a crucial step to help you spend less and waste less. When you know what you’re going to eat every day of the week, you ideally will only purchase the foods you need at the grocery store.  Without a meal plan and a grocery list based on your plan, you’ll most likely find yourself wandering the aisles grabbing whatever looks good to you.  That’s fun, but you’ll most likely end up with not enough or not the right groceries for a week’s worth of meals.

If you really struggle with menu planning, then try out $5 Meal Plan. It happens to be my favorite meal planning service. It’s just $5 a month (the first two weeks are free!), and you get menu plans sent straight to your email along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This service allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well! If you are interested in joining for free, click here.

Account for Leftovers

If you find you usually have quite a few leftovers, account for the leftovers in your meal plan.  Maybe set aside one or two nights that you devote to eating up those leftovers.  Or, turn those leftovers into another meal.  Perhaps all that leftover spaghetti sauce will create a wonderful chili, as an example.

Buy Less

If your pantry and freezer are quite well stocked, start your “shopping” there.  By using what you have on hand already, will ensure you don’t buy more than you need and will help prevent food waste on the products you’ve already purchased.

Also, something I’ve learned about our family is, while buying a big package of celery (for example) may be cheaper in the long run than buying individual stalks, most of it goes to waste!  We’re not big celery eaters so purchasing individual stalks is actually cheaper for us because I only buy what we will use.  This same principle can apply to many different items in the grocery store.

Buy What you Love

You may have had some moments where you think you should eat more quinoa/fish/whatever, as you’re strolling through the grocery store.  I’ve had plenty of those nutritional guilt trips, but this inevitably leads to unplanned purchases for items your family may not be too excited about yet.  Focus on the foods your family enjoys, and add new ones gradually, after you’ve found recipes worth trying.

Buy Local

In all honesty, I never understood how buying local produce could save you money since the price I was looking at paying was more expensive than something I could purchase from a regular grocery store.  But then I realized that local produce travels way less than anything purchased from most grocery stores.  Because local produce travels less, you’re paying for a fresher item that will have a much longer life span!  Makes sense, right?  An obvious reason to support our local farmers.

Take Smaller Portions

Before you dish out another big portion, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate. Since it’s not likely you’ll save that little piece of chicken you couldn’t finish, stick to smaller portions. You can always get seconds!

Freeze Leftovers

Rather than scraping your leftovers into the garbage or if you don’t feel like eating them before they go to waste, put them in the freezer!  This makes for a great way to reduce waste and creates an easy meal for a busy night.

Store Produce Properly

Not all produce should be stored the same way.  Here’s a great guide on Design Mom with 6 Secrets to Properly Washed & Stored Produce.

Learn to read the labels

Take some time to learn what “Sell-by” or “use-by” dates actually mean.  The sell-by date is the last recommended day you should buy a product from the store, but you can still eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality.  But, if stored properly, most foods will stay fresh a few days longer than the use-by date!  Of course, if you note any weird odors, textures, or colors, throw it out.

Overlook Imperfections

Whether it’s soft spots in apples, bruises on bananas or dark spots on potatoes, all produce will develop imperfections. With produce that is past its prime, simply cut around the “bad” parts before you eat or throw veggies into a stock pot for soup, or make a smoothie with the less pristine fruits.  Just because something isn’t in perfect condition doesn’t mean it’s inedible!

If you’re dealing with mold, though, it’s time for the garbage.  Unless it’s cheese.  You can cut around the mold to salvage the rest.

Save it for the compost

Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable pieces and peelings? In a few months you’ll end up with nutrient-rich compost for your garden!

How do you reduce food waste in your home?

How to Buy in Bulk to Save Money

We all know buying in bulk is a great way to save money for our families. When you buy larger quantities you pay less for each ounce, serving, or piece. Sadly sometimes our best intentions to save money by purchasing in bulk, costs us more money than we intended. The good news is, all of those great intentions can pay off and you can buy in bulk to save money with a little planning and know-how.

Use the tips below to help you learn how to buy in bulk to save money.

How to Buy in Bulk to Actually Save Money

Decide if bulk is worth it for your family.

Smaller families do not need to buy everything in bulk because when food goes bad you are not truly saving anything. Some things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies are great to buy in bulk for everyone. They will never go bad and you can get your money’s worth from a purchase like that. However, in most cases, a small family may find it challenging to go through large quantities of perishable items before they go bad.

Compare bulk price to the regular price.

Sometimes buying in bulk is not as good of a deal as may sound. Take the time to divide the price by ounces, servings, or pieces so that you can see how much you are really paying. When sales hit it can often be better to buy the smaller packages than to purchase the bulk one, not on sale.

Check expiration dates and rotate your stock.

It is really easy for things to be forgotten in the back of the pantry or freezer for a long period of time. Only to be discovered when it is too late. Grab a sharpie and put dates in large print on everything. Move new items to the back when putting your groceries away to avoid using the newest items before the old.

Store items well to make them last longer.

Airtight containers can keep your bulk supplies fresh longer. A vacuum sealer can keep that fresh meat you found a great deal on from being freezer burnt before you can use it, and storing produce like carrots in water will keep them fresh longer giving you time to use them.

Plan your menu to use up fresh items before they go bad.

Nothing can ruin a great deal like not using what you bought before it begins to rot. When purchasing produce in bulk you really want to be sure you have a plan to use it. When we find a really good deal we plan to use it in every meal and snack we can to be sure it gets used.

Compare prices and selections at your local wholesale clubs BEFORE buying a membership.

Often places like Costco will let you in to check out the selection before you buy a membership. Compare the prices of the top ten things your family will be buying in bulk and go with the club membership if that will give you the best deal on these items.

Look for bulk in unexpected places.

Often supermarkets will have bulk basics like flour in 25-pound sacks available. Your local farmer’s market is a great place to find a deal on bulk produce from local farmers looking to clear out stock by the end of the day. You do not have to purchase a wholesale club membership to buy in bulk if you take the time to shop around helping you save a bit more money when buying in bulk.

Do you find buying in bulk is worth it for your family? What things do you most often buy in bulk? From where?

Canadian Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

Have you heard of the Canadian Scanning Code of Practice? It could be very valuable to you!

Most Canadian retailers take part in this practice. In Quebec it’s the law and in other provinces, it’s voluntary. Basically, if you purchase an item believing it to be a certain price but the item actually scans at a higher price then advertised, you receive the item free up to a $10 value! If the item is priced more than $10, then the retailer will give you a discount of $10 off the corrected price.

The code applies to all UPC, bar coded, and/or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise sold in stores, with the exception of goods not easily accessible to the public (example: prescription drugs and behind the counter cosmetics), and individually price-ticketed items.

To be eligible for the Item Free Scanner Policy, the item must match the product description on the corresponding shelf tag.

Does that make sense?

Quite often the cashier won’t give you the product free without you mentioning the Scanning Code of Practice. So if you notice a wrong price, speak up!

At participating retailers you should see a sign on the entrance doors and at the till that reads:

Scanning Code of Practice: If the scanned price of a non-price item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the first item free, up to a $10 maximum. If a Code of Practice problem cannot be resolved at the store level, please call 1-866-499-4599 to register your complaint.

If you would like more information, visit this site: Retail Council of Canada

Here is a list of participating retailers:

  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • The Groupe Jean Coutu (NB and Ont only)
  • Lawton Drug Stores
  • London Drugs
  • Lovell Drugs
  • Pharma-save (BC and Sask)
  • Canada Safeway Limited
  • The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company of Canada Limited
  • Loblaw Companies Limited
  • Sobeys Inc.
  • Metro Inc.
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • Co-op Atlantic
  • Federated Co-operatives Limited
  • Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd.
  • The Home Depot Canada
  • Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd.
  • Toys r Us
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Wal*Mart Canada Corp.
  • Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
  • The North West Company
  • Best Buy/Future Shop
  • Home Hardware franchisees
  • Thrifty Foods
  • Overwaitea Food Group
  • The Harry Watson Group
  • Longos Brothers Fruit Markets