The key to meal planning is simple: always go into the grocery store with a plan.
“Only buy the items you enjoy eating,” she said. “Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great budget-friendly option, and you don’t have to worry about eating them before they go bad. With a little bit of planning, you don’t have to eat the same thing every single day.”
When it comes to produce, choose single fruits and veggies vs. packaged goods. “Prepackaged fruits and vegetables tend to cost more. Most fruits and vegetables are readily available all year ’round, but seasonal tend to be more affordable.”
When you’re living alone, it is also common to overspend.
“As food prices are projected to rise this year, meal planning becomes even more critical in order to save money,” she said. “Pick one day in the week to scan your fridge, freezer and pantry to create your grocery list.”
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With the help of Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietitian based in Vancouver, we’ve come up with a five-day meal plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Also to note: because this is for a single-person household, many of these grocery items can spill over into the next week (think bread, eggs, white rice).
We chose a $65 budget based on research that shows how much Canadians will spend on groceries this year, but also taking into consideration how much it would cost to buy lunch every single day ($50 per week, for example).
Below, we’ve included a grocery list (this was based on prices at a No Frills in Toronto the week of March 19), ideal for all three meals of the day. Note, the final price of this list can change depending on where you live in the country. We have also not included taxes.
This list and meal plan acts as a base for inspiration — you can add or remove other items depending on your diet or budget. It does not include condiments and other kitchen essentials like oil, salt, pepper etc.
Plain Greek yogurt $4
Small white eggs $2
Packaged whole wheat bread $2
1L milk (2%) $3
Smooth peanut butter $3
Quick steel cut oats $3
White rice (long) $2
Almonds (100 grams) $4
Baby spinach $4
Cherry tomatoes $4
Mini tortillas (12 in a bag) $2
Lean ground turkey $7
Firm tofu $2
Chick peas $1
Broccoli (one floret) $4
Bag of carrots $3
One white onion $2
Canned corn $1
Canned black beans $1
Crushed tomatoes $1
Apples (3) $3
Rice cakes $2
Total price $65
Breakfast: Steel cut oats with bananas and almonds
Lunch: Rice bowl with leftover turkey, black beans, spinach and corn
Dinner: Frittata with spinach, onions and cherry tomatoes
Breakfast: Smoothie with peanut butter, Greek yogurt and banana
Lunch: Wrap with baked tofu, shredded carrots and spinach
Dinner: Savoury chickpea curry with rice and cherry tomatoes
Breakfast: Steel cut oats with Greek yogurt, blueberries and almonds
Lunch: Egg salad sandwich with sliced apples and rice cakes
Dinner: Turkey sloppy Joe (made with crushed tomatoes) served with carrot sticks and toast