Grocery shopping for you and your family can either make or break your budget. Food is constantly getting more and more expensive and it can really drain your family finances. However, if you choose to utilize inexpensive ingredients, you will be able to do your meal planning on a budget and save money from your overall grocery bill.
You just need to concentrate on your comprehensive budget that is needed by your family. The best thing to do is to plan out your meals for the week – using inexpensive components – so that you know exactly what you need to purchase and cook in order to maintain your budget.
Tips for Meal Planning on a Budget:
Create a list of the favorite meals for each family member. These are those meals that you know for a fact they will eat every time you make them.
Next, make a weekly schedule of meals, making sure to include one or two of these favorite meals. When they know that their favorite meals are coming up, they will tend to eat the other meals without too much complaining.
Before writing out your meal plan for the week, check the grocery store ads to find out what is on sale. Make a list of sale items and try to incorporate those into the meal plan for the week. Additionally, make a note of those nonperishables that your family regularly uses that are on sale and stock up on those, if you have room.
Instead of building your meals around the meat, build it around your vegetables or grains. Only use meat as a flavoring or side dish, which will greatly reduce the amount you will need – which will save you money, since meat is the most expensive thing on the plate. Instead of giving each person a whole chicken breast, with rice and veggies as a side dish, use half the amount of chicken breasts by cutting them up and mixing them into a rice and vegetable mix, such as a casserole. This way, you will end up getting twice the amount of meals out of a package of chicken breasts.
As hard as it may sound, plan to have at least one vegetarian meal per week. Believe it or not, you can get protein from beans and they are much less expensive than meat. Also, there are many really great vegetarian menus to choose from- you won’t even know there’s no meat!
Once a week, plan on having a meal using the leftovers from another meal. For example, if you have pot roast one night, you can use the leftovers another night to make beef stroganoff.
Before you head out to go grocery shopping, write out your final shopping list for the week with your menu plans and the nonperishables that are on sale. Stick to the list- only purchase those things that are on the list and avoid purchasing impulse items that could end up breaking your meal plan on a budget.
Finally, clip coupons that match up with the items that are already on your list – especially the ones that are on sale. You can also get coupons from many websites. Many stores these days will let you “stack” coupons, meaning you choose an item that is already on sale, plus you have a coupon from the newspaper, plus one from an online source, plus one from a competitor. This helps you to save even more money and maximize your menu budget.
Additional Budget Menu Tips:
When you’re meal planning and living on a budget and looking for ways to cut corners that you won’t miss, there are lots of tricks you can use.
One way is to cook a meal than be cooked in large batches and then frozen, feel free to double your recipe so that you will end up with twice as much as you will need. Then, put half of it in a freezer safe container and pop it in the freezer for a quick and easy meal on one of those busy days. This will help you to avoid the lure of takeout, which could end up ruining your budget.
Purchasing seasonal produce is much cheaper than out of season produce. However, if there is no in season produce, you can use frozen, which has a much better flavor than canned and doesn’t have as many preservatives.
Check out websites such as pinterest.com or other free recipe websites that can help you with dinner ideas that the whole family will love. You may find some great recipes that will help keep you on budget and find some new family favorites.
Find recipes that have only a few ingredients – as these will be inexpensive and easy to make. Soup recipes are the best value for your money because you can add water or milk to stretch them. Typically, recipes that use soups are made up of mostly whole grains and vegetables with a very small amount of meat. Make some homemade bread to eat with soup and you have an entire meal.
Eggs are a great and inexpensive source of protein. They are great for breakfast or other meals including omelets or quiche.
Fortunately if you follow these tips there are many options for the kitchen if you have to do your meal planning on a budget. You don’t have to starve or eat low quality food. Just put a little bit of effort into your budgeting skills and the planning aspect of your meals, and you’ll be able to enjoy all the foods you’ve come to love.
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I think the part of meal planning that I struggle with most is figuring out recipes. I wish there was a website somewhere for people who have no idea what they’re doing with very simple recipes to get us started on the path to being actual cooks.
The Roamer says
Yes making a list is really important but I would go father then just your favorites I would and do have a list of everything my spouse and I know how to cook. You have a longer list which lends itself to more variety in the menu.
Also I don’t know if this is more for the advanced or least advanced but I would plan the whole month out. Less repeats that way