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10 Tips for Planning Meals within a Budget

Here are 10 tips that will help you get started

Make a list of the dishes you will be making. Determine which recipes you will be making for lunch or dinner. Make a list with the items you will need at the grocery store. A plan will help you to be less likely buy fast food or take-out. These are easy tips to plan your menu.

Plan your meals around items that are on sale. Online coupon sites, newspaper inserts, and store flyers are good places to start looking. You might be amazed at the great deals that are available. Be sure to plan ahead and buy foods you'll actually use to ensure they don’t go to waste.

Every week, plan at least one meal that is meatless. For a great price, legumes (beans/lentils, dried peas), eggs and peanut butter are all good options for protein. Here are some meatless options: Black Bean Couscous salad, Egg Bhurji, Sweet Chili Tofu Stir Fry.

Look in your freezer, fridge and pantry. Examine the expiry dates of any food or ingredients you have. How many of them do you still have? These ingredients can be found in recipes.

Increase your consumption of grains. Rice, pasta and couscous can be used in many dishes. These grains can be used in soups, stews, or salads like Chicken Bulgur Salad.

Avoid recipes that require special ingredients. Some recipes may require you to use a particular ingredient. How much does it cost? Is it small or large? Do you think it can be used in other recipes without it going bad? It is not worth it to purchase an ingredient if you only plan to use it once. Try the recipe without the ingredient or with something you already have. It's fun, and it can be quite rewarding to create something new.

Seasonal recipes are best. Fruit and vegetables are often cheaper when they are in season.

Use leftovers. Take a look at what you can do with leftovers. You can make chicken sandwiches on Monday if you cook roast chicken with rice, vegetables, and other side dishes for Sunday night's evening supper. Make a soup out of the bones and add any leftover rice and vegetables to it.

Do not waste any of your extras. Don't let large quantities of celery or carrots go to waste. Make sure to use all of it by making extra large batches of soup. Two batches of lasagna can be made if you buy ground beef at a discounted price. Make one batch and serve it as a main course. Then freeze the other in small portions so you can eat it again later.

Get to know your family's favorite foods. Encourage your family's participation in menu planning by sharing their favourite foods. So you can search for your favourite foods and ingredients when they go on special.