The Stress-Free Guide to Meal Planning

Save time, money and your sanity with these weekly game plans.

Here at Food Network, we're big fans of meal planning and all that it can do for your wallet. Spend some time strategizing what you're going to eat every day, and you can shop smarter, reduce food waste and avoid last-minute, unplanned takeout orders saving you serious cash! That's why we're so excited about Food Network Kitchen's new meal planning tool, which makes it easier than ever to map out and schedule breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the week (or month, if you're feeling extra ambitious!). You can choose from thousands of tried-and-true recipes on the app to create your own custom meal plan. Or, if you need a little inspiration to get started, you can tap into one of our editorially-curated meal plans.

With more than 75 meal plans already available in the app — and new ones launching weekly — there is an option for (almost) every type of home cook. From Air Fryer Dinners for Two to Healthy Meals for Six, we've got you covered no matter how many mouths you have to feed. You can also find vegan options, slow-cooker suppers and plans centered on using up leftover ingredients, like rice. There is a Big Batch: Pulled Pork Edition plan for anyone who likes to devote serious time on Sundays to getting ahead. But there are also 20-Minute Dinners to Try This Week and a 30 Minutes or Less Meal Plan for those of us who want to spend the least amount of time possible in the kitchen (don't we all have those weeks?).

While meal planning in itself can help you save money, pairing it with the smart strategies below can help you stretch your budget even further.

Shop your pantry: Before hitting the supermarket, make sure you're actually low on supplies. There might be all sorts of random ingredients squirreled away in your kitchen cabinets, fridge and freezer. Pretend you’re on an episode of Chopped and challenge yourself to use up them all up before heading to the store. For inspiration, take a look at our Pantry Raid meal plan featuring a week's worth of back-pocket meals made with shelf-stable staples like canned beans, boxes of pasta and jars of sauce.

Buy in bulk and/or save on sales: Once you actually need to go grocery shopping, strategy is key. If the cost per unit is way cheaper when you buy extra, or there are great discounts on a certain cut of meat, it makes sense to stock up. To avoid getting stuck in a dinner rut, consider trying out one of our meal plans that reinvent and repackage the same ingredient — whether it be ground beef, canned tuna or chicken breasts — so the family won't get sick of eating the same protein multiple nights of the week.

Go meatless: Opting for cheaper proteins such as eggs and beans is a no-brainer way to save. But sometimes it's easier said than done. Choose a meal plan that makes vegetarianism accessible. Our Vegetarian Meals the Whole Family Will Love is great for getting picky eaters on board, while our Weeknight Dinners: Vegetarian Edition is a solid choice for anyone crunched for time.

Looking for something different? Check out our Meal Plan for Cheese Lovers, 5-Ingredient Dinners, Budget-Friendly Eats and more in the Food Network Kitchen app (Psst! New meal plans are released weekly on Sunday mornings!).

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