4 Tips for Healthy Meal Planning on a Budget

No matter what your goal is, whether you plan on cooking more at home, eating more salads or making healthier choices at restaurants, I’m here to help. I’ve compiled a short list of tips to help you continue to make good choices for yourself and your family without breaking the bank.

By Dawn Harris

WorkitMom.com is a blogging community and resource center for working moms by working moms. Check out Work it Mom for parenting tipscareer advice, craft ideasquick kid-friendly recipes, and more. 

One of the most common goals among moms is making better food choices and eating healthier. As a busy mom, however, I understand that sometimes convenience outweighs smart choices, and that’s how we can get sucked back into those bad habits. Believe me, I know firsthand.

  • Write a shopping list. If you know what you are going shopping for, you are less likely to make impulsive purchases. Plan ahead, clip coupons and check the sales ads for your favorite stores. Write down the prices of your favorite items and comparison shop. I typically shop at least three stores a week to get the best deals. Tip: only do your grocery shopping when you’ve already eaten!
  • Stay on the outer aisles. Have you noticed that most grocery stores have all their fresh fruit, produce, bulk items and generally healthier stuff on the outer regions of the store? If you go down the aisles, that’s where most of the processed foods (boxed or canned) are found. Try to stick to the outer circle for the majority of your trip, only going down the aisles for the necessary items on your list. Some folks shop by going up and down each aisle, but that is also how impulse buys happen.
  • Find local farmers’ markets. In a few months, the local farmers markets will be opening up, so take advantage of some fresh local produce while also getting to know your local farmers. You’re likely to score some excellent deals while making it a learning experience for your kids.
  • Stick to your budget. When I shop, I usually allocate a certain dollar amount for groceries, and I’ll only bring that amount in cash. I use the calculator on my phone and add each item while shopping and sticking to my list. If I come up under budget, then I’ll grab a few extra items I may decide on purchasing. This is always a guarantee to not overspend, and you really get to know your prices on all products.

There’s a myth out there that in order to eat well you have to spend a lot. This is just not the case. You just have to shop smart and know your local stores and prices.  Tip: don’t forget to budget for dining out during the week.  Many restaurants offer “Kids Eat Free” and other specials that can help you save on healthier choices for the whole family at restaurants.

Search for Healthy Dining menu choices near you at restaurants nationwide using the HealthyDiningFinder.com mobile site.  Here are some of the healthier and budget-friendly choices you can find: