meal and money, planning mealsCreating a meal plan eliminates last-minute dashes for unhealthy choices and saves you money.

If it is almost 4 o’clock and you still don’t know what’s for dinner, odds are that you will call for takeout or pull something microwaveable out of the freezer. Fast-food and pre-packaged foods are ok for solving the occasional dinner crisis, but dining out and eating processed foods can have a lasting impact on both your health and your wallet

Creating a meal plan eliminates last-minute dashes for unhealthy choices and saves you money. Instead of making impulse buys, you carefully plan what you will eat each day based on your dietary needs, taste and budget. You will waste less food, spend less money and enjoy your meals even more. 
Tips for a Successful Meal Plan 
Keep these tips in mind as you create a meal plan:
  • Use Coupons and Sales: Look in the newspaper and online to find cost-cutting coupons and sales. Plan your list around the best deals, whether it is a sale on fresh veggies or a coupon for chicken. 
  • Stick to the List: Organize your plan into a detailed shopping list so you are not tempted to stray into junk food territory. Have a snack before you go to quell any cravings or hunger pangs you have. 
  • Waste Not: Think carefully about how you will use perishable items in your meal plan. Get creative in the kitchen and minimize costs by making soups, stews, casseroles or salads out of leftover vegetables, meat or poultry products. 
  • Replace Expensive Items: Pre-cut veggies and pre-packaged snacks may save you time in the kitchen, but they usually cost more than their unprepared counterparts. Avoid these convenience foods when making your meal plan to cut your grocery costs
Are you a meal planning expert? Share your best tips for saving money and planning healthy meals with our readers in the comments section below!