Meal planning on a budget

How to save money and time, while still eating healthy, plus a three-day meal plan.
Published August 29, 2022

It’s no secret that food prices have increased over the past few months across the country, and if you’re wondering how to continue eating healthy while not breaking the bank, you’re not alone.

With our list of meal planning tips, you can make easy, healthy meals on a budget and rest easy.

Meal tips

  • Incorporate inexpensive staples: Think things like dry beans and lentils, eggs, whole grains, pasta, seasonal produce, frozen veggies, oats, bananas, tinned fish, and peanut butter.
  • Eat less meat: “Instead of a meal with the meat front and centre, make a curry with vegetables, make a soup or stew with shredded chicken, make bone broth, and stretch that meat for a few meals where it usually would last only one,” says Heather Kasvinsky, owner of the food and travel blog This Noshtalgic Life. “I am able to make one four-pound chicken last for three meals for my family of four.”
  • Use lentils/rice and beans/rice: This creates a complete protein to make satisfying and healthy meals, Kasvinsky says.
  • Eat seasonally: Buy produce at your local farmer’s markets, Kasvinsky suggests, because they will typically be less expensive than grocery stores and may have bulk deals.
  • Batch cook: “Found a deal on discounted meat or produce and can’t eat it all before it spoils? Plan to make a large batch of a meal that can be frozen, label it and save it for a busy weeknight in a month or two,” Kasvinsky says.

Shopping tips

  • Buy in bulk: This is a great tip particularly for non-perishables.
  • Shop sales: If there’s a sale on things like pasta or beans or frozen veggies, go for it!
  • Clip coupons: “Remember your parents were coupon clippers? Start up that habit again. It can actually be fun,” Kasvinsky says.
  • Look for discounts: “Shop bruised and discounted produce such as bananas or tomatoes. Most grocery stores have a small section in the produce area where you can find items that are close to spoiling but usable for quick breads, soups or smoothies,” Kasvinsky says.

Kasvinsky also recommends meal planning every single week.

“Pick a day and stick to it. Put up a menu for your family, take requests and keep a journal of favourite meals.”

With that in mind, take a look at this three-day meal plan we’ve put together, incorporating healthy, low cost ingredients so you and the whole family can eat well on a budget.

Day 1

You can eat healthy and save money with these three budget-friendly recipes. Each one incorporates healthy protein that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – eggs, pork, and beans – and they are all fully rounded meals so you won’t miss out on flavour or satiety at any point.

Breakfast: Sheet-Pan Cheesy Hash Browns & Egg

Lunch: Pork & Veggie Grain Bowls with Lemony Yogurt

Dinner: Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Day 2

Start your day with the protein-rich grain quinoa, enjoy a summery pasta salad at lunchtime, and top the day off with a comforting bowl of flavourful Thai-inspired soup. Each recipe incorporates protein and fibre so you stay full and feel satisfied, and did we mention flavour?

Breakfast: Creamy Quinoa and Apple Breakfast Cereal

Lunch: Salmon, White Bean, and Pasta Salad

Dinner: Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

Day 3

This menu takes out any complicated prep work with a simple breakfast like overnight oats, which you can set and forget. Egg salad is another easy, cheap meal option that makes for a great lunch, and then for dinner, there’s an oldie but goodie – tuna noodle casserole, a tried-and-true classic that doesn’t break the bank.

Breakfast: Banana Bread Overnight Oats

Lunch: Herbed egg salad toast

Dinner: Tuna Noodle Casserole