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Budget meal planners (with shopping lists)

Meal planning on a budget has never been easier. With our weekly & monthly budget meal plans. Delicious recipes with easy downloadable shopping lists.

Budget meal planning

Shopping on a budget isn’t always easy. If you don’t know what you’re planning to buy, you can quickly find your trolley gets filled with convenient but expensive food. One of the best ways you can start to eat well and pay less is with meal planning. Meal planning on a budget takes a little extra planning and a few clever tricks, but you can make some significant savings along the way.

Click here for other ways to eat well pay less.  

 

 

What is budget meal planning?

Budget meal planning is just what it sounds like — planning your meals on a limited budget!

The steps are pretty simple:

  1. Set a food budget for a set period of time
  2. Decide on the meals you want to cook that fit the budget
  3. Write a shopping list for the ingredients you need with their prices

For example, if you’re planning for one week, your budget meal plan will usually cover at least dinner for the next seven days. That said, when you’re aiming to save money, it’s a good idea to include breakfast and lunch in your meal plans, so every meal is accounted for. Meal planning is a bit different to meal prepping. Meal prepping is about preparing or even cooking your meals in advance so you don’t have to spend your evenings cooking. It’s a great accompaniment to meal planning, but not essential.

 

Why plan your meals?

Meal planning is a great idea for anyone looking to save money on groceries by cooking at home more often. Here are just a few reasons we love meal planning:

1. Stress less about dinner

Meal planning helps you start the week with confidence that every meal is accounted for.

2. Spend less on groceries

It can help you save money. By planning your meals around shared ingredients, you can ensure costs stay down.

3. Spend less on takeaways

Having a meal plan also makes you less likely to splurge on takeaways, saving you money and calories. While one family trip to a fast food chain could cost over $30 for a single meal, your money goes a lot further with a meal plan.

4. Reduce your food waste

Lastly, effective meal planning helps you reduce food waste by ensuring you’re using every last bit of your fresh produce and meat.

 

 

How to approach budgeting

One of the best things about meal planning is that it’s very flexible. A realistic meal plan budget comes down to a few different factors.

Ask yourself:

  • How many people are you feeding? How far ahead are you willing to plan?
  • How much can you afford to budget?
  • Do you even want to meal prep?

Read more food budgeting tips here

These questions should give you some idea of what you’re prepared to budget for, however we’ve also taken averages from the University of Otago Food Costs Survey to indicate what a reasonable budget looks like.

Low budget

Below are the estimated weekly costs of maintaining a basic diet for adult men and women, as well as for a family of four.

Adult man

$69.25

Adult woman

$59.00

Family (two adults, 10-year-old child and 4-year-old child)

$212.00

Medium budget

Below are the estimated weekly costs for a more moderate food shop for adult men and women, as well as for a family of four.

Adult man

$90.00

Adult woman

$76.50

Family (two adults, 10-year-old child and 4-year-old child)

$275.50

High budget

Below are the estimated weekly costs for a liberal food shop for adult men and women, as well as for a family of four.

Adult man

$108

Adult woman

$91.50

Family (two adults, 10-year-old child and 4-year-old child)

$330.50

 

Our sample budget meal plans

Keep in mind that these low cost meal plans use the full price of pantry items like soy sauce and vinegar, which you may not need to buy. When your budget allows, it’s a good idea to purchase pantry staples in bulk and take advantage of sales. Don’t worry about them going off — pantry staples almost always have a very long shelf life.


Weekly budget meal plan

The recipes in this meal plan are full of great, lean proteins like frozen prawns, chicken and eggs. We’ve included lots of veggies throughout the week, including canned and frozen ones to save money and last longer.

Get the full one-week meal plan and shopping list.

Total cost for the week

$224.97

Number of people

3 adults or 2 adults & 2 young children

Number of meals

3 per person per day

 Cost per serve  $3.57 per serving (or $2.68 when feeding 2 adults & 2 children)


2 week budget meal plan

Our two-week meal plan is an easy extension of our one-week plan. Week 2 meats should be frozen so they don’t expire before you use them, but veggies like pumpkins and cauliflower can often last really well just in the fridge.

Get the full two-week meal plan and shopping list.

Total cost for the week

$308.98

Number of people

3 adults or 2 adults & 2 young children

Number of meals

3 per person per day

Cost per serve $2.45 per serving (or $1.84 when feeding 2 adults & 2 children)


Monthly budget meal plan

Our month-long meal plan extends on our two-week meal plan by incorporating a selection of slow cooker recipes. We’ve also moved some recipes with long-life ingredients to the end of the month to keep dinners exciting. You’ll need a good amount of freezer space to make a monthly meal plan work, but the savings make it worthwhile!

Get the full monthly meal plan and shopping list.

Total cost for the month

$642.25

Number of people

3 adults or 2 adults & 2 young children

Number of meals

3 per person per day

Cost per serve $2.30 per serving (or $1.73 when feeding 2 adults & 2 children)


Looking for more inspiration?

See all our recipes

Check out our slow cooker meal planner

Find out all your need to know about how to meal prep