Meal Planning

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The More in My Basket program from NC State University and the N.C. Cooperative Extension office is here to provide information on Meal Planning on a Budget. Here are some basic tips to meal planning to help you reduce your budget while providing healthy meals for your family. (1) Create a list of meals. Whether you’re planning meals for the week or the next two weeks, you’ll want to decide what items will be on your family’s menu. In making this determination, consider your schedule. Are there after-school events or activities in the evening? For busy weeks, easily reheatable or on-the-go meals may be the solution. (2) Shopping Sale Advertisements. Now that your menu is planned, it’s time to make your shopping list. Search for ingredients that may be on sale at the local grocery store. Don’t forget to take advantage of Farmers’ Markets and produce stands for fresh produce or items when in season. If eligible, keep in mind that food banks and pantries are also accessible. After reviewing the sale ads, alter some of the ingredients in your meals to reduce cost. For instance, if a recipe calls for one can of tomatoes and a specific brand is on sale this week as a buy one get one free consider buying two cans instead of just the one needed. If a sale item is within your budget and you have room in your pantry or freezer, purchase additional for later consumption. When purchasing produce, keep in mind that pre-cut fruits and vegetables may be higher in cost than pre-processed produce. You pay extra for convenience. Take advantage of sales but don’t forget to stick to your budget! (3) Tips for the kitchen. Now that all of your ingredients are purchased, it’s time to prepare your food. To reduce the time spent in the kitchen, consider washing, drying, and cutting produce a day prior to cooking your meal. For questions about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or to receive assistance to apply for food nutrition services, contact the More in My Basket staff at NC State by visiting or calling 1-855-240-1451.

Below is a delicious dinner option from the More in My Basket program at For more information on our Food for Thought programs, activities and recipes, check us out online.

One Pan Sausage & Vegetables – serves 4

  • 12-16oz Smoked Turkey or Chicken Sausage (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced into ½” cubes
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper (any colors you like)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning (or taco)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice the sausage into 1” rounds. Dice the sweet potatoes into small 1/2” cubes. Add the sausage, veggies and minced garlic to a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian spices or your favorite spice blend. Seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss veggies with your hands until they are fully combined and coated with olive oil and spices. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway. Enjoy with rice!