12 Money-Saving Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget by Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, RD, CDE, and Chef Jennifer Lamplough, MBA

The dollars can add up when feeding the family for a month, but healthy meals don’t have to break the bank! Eating at home is almost always cheaper per meal than eating out, even at fast food restaurants. With some smart shopping and planning, the savings can be significant. Plus, you can plan for any type of eating pattern—keto, low-carb, Mediterranean, vegetarian—while saving money and preparing healthy, diabetes-friendly, and delicious meals.

12 Money-Saving Tips for Planning Meals on a Budget

Lara Rondinelli Hamilton, RD, CDE, and Chef Jennifer Lamplough, authors of The Diabetes Cookbook, share these money-saving tips, along with a few of their favorite budget-friendly recipes:

  1. Buy meats, such as chicken breast and ground turkey, in bulk and then you can separate and freeze in smaller quantities at home. 

  2. Chicken legs and boneless, skinless chicken thighs are less expensive than chicken breasts and still a great lean protein source. 

  3. Look at weekly ads and buy your produce and other products based on the sale prices. Stock up on freezer and canned items when the price is right. 

  4. Eggs are an inexpensive protein and aren’t only a breakfast food. Quiches and vegetable frittatas make great, quick, and healthy dinner meals, too. 

  5. Shop at your local supermarket chain that sells groceries at discounted prices. These stores are offering a lot more healthy options and even have lower-priced organic produce.

  6. Shop store brands—they often taste the same as their competition, but at a lower cost.

  7. Soups and stews are lower cost meals and can include healthy choices, such as vegetables and beans.

  8. Beans, lentils, and legumes are inexpensive and can be used in a variety of dishes including soups, salads, and dips. They’re also great when added to meals, such as tacos, to stretch the meal further while adding some extra fiber.

  9. Use low-cost vegetables, such as cabbage and kale, when making main dishes and this will give your meals more bulk. It will also help you meet the recommended goal of making half your plate veggies.

  10. Try having a meatless meal once a week to save money and increase your veggies.

  11. Canned tuna is an inexpensive, lean protein source and can be used for tuna salad, healthy tuna melts (use whole-wheat English muffins), and tuna macaroni salad (use whole-wheat noodles and lots of veggies to cut back on carbs).

  12. Make two meals out of one item. You can roast a chicken and serve it for dinner one night with a side of broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes and then use the leftover chicken to make chicken tacos or quesadillas the next night.

Veggie Burgers with Mango Slaw

This meatless meal proves that vegetarian meals don't have to be boring! These burgers are packed with flavor, crunch, sweetness, and fiber. You won't miss the meat in this meal!

Roasted Beet and Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese

This beautiful salad makes a great lunch packed with veggies, protein, and a nice crunch from the almonds.

Chicken Sausage and Cabbage Skillet

Not only is this dish budget-friendly, but it's quick too! The apples and white wine provide a perfect combination of flavors, and it's one-pot, so it's friendly on your time and budget.

Summer Vegetable Frittata

This dish provides it all: budget-friendly, easy, flavorful, and lots of veggies for good health. Eggs aren't just for breakfast anymore!

You can find these recipes and more than 300 others in our new book, The Diabetes Cookbook, in stores November 13! To order your copy directly from the American Diabetes Association, click here.


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