Free Budget Meal Plan: 7 Days of Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners
Meal planning has a positive impact on our physical, financial, and mental health, so we made a free 7-day plan that utilizes healthy, accessible, and affordable ingredients!
With the rising prices of restaurant meals (and even fast food), preparing meals at home is the best way to reduce your monthly bills. To make jumping into home-cooking easy and stress-free, our free Budget Meal Plan e-book has everything you need to make healthy, delicious, and inexpensive breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
In fact, each of these meals build off of our 10 Budget-Friendly Ingredients, to ensure that we all can have inexpensive meals at our fingertips! Our free downloadable plan will help a 4-person family make 21 meals with only $75-150 spent in groceries, depending on where you shop. Believe it or not, that comes to a mere $0.90 to $1.79 per person, per meal! Sounds great, right?
Even if you’re not on a budget, you can still get a lot of value out of this meal plan. Most of us are incredibly busy and just don’t have the time or energy to figure out what to prepare for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week (especially for a family), which is why so many people just don’t do it. However, we truly believe meal planning positively impacts our physical, financial, and mental health. So, regardless of your budget, this awesome freebie can help you achieve a more balanced life.
Ready to get started? Here’s a sneak peak into what you’ll get in our free e-book:
A Meal Plan for the Whole Week
Meal planning lays the groundwork for savings because a good plan is what stands between you and a credit card bill inundated with meals you bought on the go. (Even fast food adds up quickly!) To help you stay on track, our 7-day meal plan gives you the best order for 3 meals a day so you don’t need to think about what’s for dinner tomorrow.
A Complete Grocery List
Our grocery list will let you make one trip to the grocery store and come home with everything you need for the week. When people go to the store without a list, they spend up to 40% more, so don’t leave home without one!
List of Budget Ingredients
Since some ingredients are always more expensive than others, we can help you wade through the options. With our list of 10 ideal ingredients for affordable meals, you can keep your costs down while keeping your nutrition up.
Meal Planning Pointers
From good leftovers to savvy recipe strategy, our budget meal planning tips will help make your cooking smart and easy.
Produce Shelf Life and Care Guide
Did you know the average American family throws away over $2,000 worth of food every year? That food waste is just as bad for the environment as it is for our pocket books. Luckily, included in this 7-Day Budget Meal Plan is a Produce Shelf Life Guide that can make sure none of your hard-earned cash gets tossed in the garbage and stuck in a landfill.
Regardless of your food budget, setting a meal plan every week is one of the best ways to save more in the kitchen so you can invest extra money where it counts each month!
Free Budget Meal Plan
Save money and eat healthier with this a week's worth of planned breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
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Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget
In addition, this meal plan isn’t just about recipes – it shows you how to put some of our top budget meal planning tips into practice:
1. Breakfasts are the perfect meals to repeat
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but unfortunately a lot of people skip it, eat sugary cereal, or grab something at the nearest Starbucks. If you have just a few inexpensive breakfasts that you habitually make and rotate through, you’re much more likely to enjoy a healthy breakfast.
Select just 1 or 2 to make in bulk for the week and regardless of how chaotic your weekday mornings are, you know you’ll start the day fueled and won’t need to spend extra money on less healthy meals and snacks.
In our 7-Day Meal Plan, you’ll be able to rotate through simple, healthy recipes including customizable breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, pancakes, and avocado toast.
2. Turn your dinner into leftovers for lunch
Going out to lunch every day can be a bad habit for your health and bank account. If you’re going to be cooking dinner, you might as well double and have some leftovers for lunch. Plus, when you don’t have to wait in busy lunch lines, you can use that extra time for a post-lunch walk with some coworkers!
To make your home-cooked lunch special, make a one-time purchase of good lunch containers and a fun lunch bag. (If you find leftovers boring, check out our Guide to Repurposing Leftovers for creative ways to turn leftovers into new and exciting dishes.)
3. Cook more vegetarian meals
Animal proteins are definitely more expensive than vegetarian proteins. Find a small handful of vegetarian recipes that utilize beans, lentils, tofu, and whole grains that the whole family will enjoy, and you’re sure to see savings on your grocery bill. Plus, eating more vegetarian meals is just better for the environment since raising animals is very resource intensive and greenhouse gas producing.
For more tips on how to cook and eat healthy on a budget, see our Cooking on a Budget series.
Whether your aim is to save money or stop wasting so much food (or both!), trying out our free 7-day meal planner is a great way to start.
If you want to experience the power of meal planning every week, check out our meal plan service that gives you tons of features and tools for only $6 – $8 per month! Also, you can receive 3 more dinner plans for free when you sign up for a ‘Taste Test’ account.
A little note:
This blog post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated with new and helpful resources.
Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!