Tips for Budget Friendly Meal Planning

As we navigate this difficult time, meal planning can be a helpful tool in establishing sustainable eating patterns using available health-promoting foods. To maximize nutrition and minimize spending and food waste, consider taking advantage of the tips and resources below from our partners at the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center.

Tailor your Shopping List

Now more than ever, a well-planned grocery list is essential to navigating the grocery store efficiently, reducing food waste and managing food costs. Take a look at our Sargent Choice Nutrition Center Budget-Friendly Shopping Guide to get started on a list that takes into account your current eating habits, budget, food preferences and the energy you will be able to put into meal preparation.

Take a Kitchen Inventory

Consider making a list of what is already in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Planning your menu around what you already have can save money and reduce food waste. Keep this list in sight, and cross off items as you go!

Plan Ahead

With a few weeks of our ‘new normal’ routine in the books, it may be helpful to reflect on daily eating patterns – which habits work best for you, and which may be opportunities to modify? Setting aside 5-10 minutes each week to plan for meals and snacks that help you get through the day can go a long way for your energy level, concentration – and budget!

Consider Cost vs. Convenience

Using less processed ingredients (such as roasting a whole chicken vs. pre-cut chicken pieces, or slicing your own vegetables vs. buying pre-chopped veggies) can provide cost savings. However, if you plan to cook from scratch and some ingredients end up sitting in your refrigerator or pantry and spoiling, this can also feel like money wasted. Before you hit the grocery store, determine which ingredients you are more likely to cook from scratch, and which convenience products are worth the extra dollars in order to ease the process of cooking.

Repurpose Ingredients

Get creative to reduce food waste! Buy ingredients that can be used in multiple meals throughout the week. Soak wilted vegetables in ice water for 5-10 minutes to restore their crunch. If they can’t be revived, add them to a cooked dish or soup. Use stale bread to make toast or croutons. Blend overripe avocados into a delicious chocolate mousse. Check out for more ideas!

Practice Food Flexibility

Fluctuation in supply-chains during the COVID pandemic may result in changes to the availability of some of your favorite products. Use this opportunity to try new whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and sources of lean and/or plant protein, based on store availability.

More Resources from the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center: 

From the BU Employee Wellness newsletter 5/6/2020