Make a Meal Plan 101: How to build a weekly meal planning habit + use it to stay on budget every week!


This video is a start to finish step by step of how to make a meal plan. I take you through how I use this one practice to stay on our (lower than national average) food budget for our household size. You don’t have to start off thinking about every detail, just starting and building a habit is what counts.

If you can start, and then learn something about your food consuming habits each week… then you’ll have something to take into the next week. That’s why this is the single central part of food budgeting for me. Each week I’m gaining more information and using it to do something better the next week.

There are many aspects of meal planning. Building on your knowledge of the way you eat and plan each week is a massively helpful tool. It helps in staying calm, in food prep, staying on budget, and maximising the nutrient density of what you eat.


In the video I talked about the concept of repeating a basic meal plan that you can tailor to the seasons and what you have. We don’t do this fully but do do pizza night on Saturdays and waffle breakfasts on Sundays, and there are a few other things we have every week with whatever seasonal veggies or things we have. It’s a way to keep planning really simple and on budget – if you know the bones of the meal fit with your budget and you’re adjusting small parts with the seasons or what you have.

There can still be a lot of variety within this meal plan but it can just be a great way to start out or for some personality types. Or even something to revert to on busy weeks where you need a simple pre planned structure.

Obviously you can choose anything you like but an example would be:

  • MONDAY: Soup night. We usually do a vegan blended butternut squash soup or a chicken taco soup with homemade broth.
  • TUESDAY: Pasta or pasta bake (e.g. lasagna, macaroni cheese, spaghetti) We usually do a a simple macaroni cheese with wholewheat pasta, and a veg steamed with the pasta and mixed in so it’s a one pot dish. We also add meats or pulses to this too for extra protein. In this plan you can also stir any soup leftovers into many pasta dishes and use bits up.
  • WEDNESDAY: Quiche or frittata. We love quiche as a way to use up any leftovers because you can add any dry ish ingredient to a quiche. You can sub the cream for milk, or for yogurt and really tailor it to eating styles or what you have. In this plan it could be served with pasta on the side to use up pasta from last night.
  • THURSDAY: Pulse and grain bowls. e.g. Rice and beans or chick peas and quinoa with salad, or lentil and cous cous salad. Mixing a pulse and a grain gives a complete protein in vegan food that’s often a great budget friendly option too. There are many ways to get creative here. In summer we love lentil salads, in winter we love warm barley bowls and pinto beans with soaked and cooked rice.
  • FRIDAY: Pizza night (budget option: with homemade dough + sauce)
  • SATURDAY: Leftovers / eat out / tacos. Tacos can be lettuce wrapped, or corn, or wheat – there are so so many ways to do them! And they’re a great way to use up bits and be flexible with the seasons or what’s affordable.
  • SUNDAY: Sheet pan roast. This could be breakfast for dinner, or sausages and potato wedges, or sweet potato and chicken, or roast veggie tray with meat protein or a veggie protein like lentil salad side.

Meal Planning Template Options:

if you want 4 meals or a snack section

If you just want dinners

a dry erase magnetic options


I’d really suggest building your own master meal list. Here you can jot down every meal you like to eat and begin to make notes on it. How does it work with your budget? How much does it cost for 1 meal’s worth? What ingredients do you need to buy for it that you need to use up elsewhere? Does it usually create any waste? Any notes on shopping or prepping well? As you build week to week you can use this information to stay in your budget by using some meals more or less and altering to meet your needs. Here’s a snapshot of just the meals on ours:

  • Bean and rice bowls with roasted veg (outlined in this book)
  • Bean and grain bowls with cabbage slaw (outlined in this book)
  • Chicken taco soup with homemade tortillas chips
  • Chicken + veggie soup with homemade broth
  • Nachos with veggies and/or meat
  • Blended squash or carrot soup
  • Mac and cheese with veg or meat
  • Pasta bake with red sauce and veggies (and/or meat)
  • Fried Eggs on toast (simple bread in this book)
  • Fried eggs on roasted veggies
  • Pizza
  • Pizza rolls (here)
  • Tacos (with beans and shredded cabbage slaw and any other extras)
  • Shredded meat (in this book) on tacos or in sandwiches with slaw
  • Breakfast sandwiches on (these) homemade rolls
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Quiche with veggies/beans/meat
  • Quesadillas
  • Homemade naan style flatbread, rice and curry (here)
  • Stir Fry Veggies with (egg fried) rice
  • Lasagne (usually beef and lentil)
  • Bolognese Pasta
  • Pesto pasta (usually with broccoli/cauliflower/green beans) (pesto here)
  • “Summer Pasta” – Pasta cooked in homemade broth, with spinach and tomatoes.
  • Sausages in hot dog buns (this recipe) with caramelised onions and cabbage slaw and potato wedges
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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