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Make a Plan

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woman looking in fridge and person writing meal plan in notebook

Make a Plan

Making a plan before heading to the store can help you get organized, save money, and choose healthy options.

Plan Your Weekly Meals

Here are some simple tips to get you started:

See what you already have.

Look in your freezer, cabinets, and refrigerator. You can save money by using these items in the upcoming week’s meals

Write down your meals.

It’s helpful to write out your meals for the week including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. You can also use the Create a Grocery Game Plan - Weekly Calendar as a guide.

List out recipes to try.

Find new ideas for healthy and low-cost meals based on what you have on hand, foods your family enjoys, and foods that are good buys. Visit MyPlate Kitchen for recipe inspiration.

Think about your schedule.

Choose meals you can easily prepare when you’re short on time. Save ones that take longer for days off or when family members are free to help.

Plan to use leftovers.

Think about making larger recipes with enough servings for another meal. On busy days, just heat and serve.

Make a grocery list.

Organize your grocery list by store section or food groups to make shopping quick and easy. For a free template, try the Create a Grocery Game Plan - Grocery List.

Build your shopping list as you go.

Keep an ongoing list of foods you need on your refrigerator or on a free mobile app and add items as you run out. Some mobile apps allow you to sync grocery lists with others in your household.

Buy a combination of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable items.

Plan for a mix of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable foods in your meals. Eat your fresh food first so they don’t go bad. Stock your freezer and pantry with items you can eat later.

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  • Think outside the store. Farmers markets and farm stands can begreat options for picking up fresh produce at a discount. Check the National Farmers Market Directory for locations near you.

Save More at the Store

  • Ask around. Ask friends, family, or post a question on social media to see where others shop and find great bargains! Grocery stores, ethnic markets, dollar stores, retail supercenters, and wholesale clubs may offer good deals.
  • Read the sales flyer. Sales flyers usually come out mid-week and can be found at the store’s entrance, in the newspaper, on their website, or social media pages.
  • Eat before you shop. Grocery shopping while hungry can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices. This is a simple, yet effective way to keep you on task.
  • Join your store’s loyalty program. Most stores offer a free loyalty program. Get special offers, coupons, and discounts for being a member.
  • Get fresh produce to your door. Search online for low-cost produce delivery services in your area. Or support local farms by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Find one in your area by visiting the USDA’s CSA Directory.

  Additional Resources

For more tips, ideas and additional information check out these pages.

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MyPlate.gov is based on the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

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