Meal planning is great for saving time, and ideally, it should save you money, too. And when you’re on a strict budget, meal planning can be quite the task. Remember you can eat healthy on a budget. Don’t be afraid to improvise and try new things. Use this guide for planning meals on a tight budget.
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You would be amazed at how much healthy foods you can get on a budget.
MEALS ON A BUDGET
When you’re watching your pennies, one of the easiest ways to spend less on groceries is to buy less and eat less. Start by cutting way back on snacks, the culprit behind most overeating and among the most expensive grocery items.
Focus on Value Foods
It’s fun to cook with a wide variety of ingredients, but sticking to the foods with the most nutrition per dollar can get you through a lean patch. Need more options ? These 50 healthy foods can be had for under a buck a pound.
Buy in Bulk
Whether it’s dividing up large Costco meat packages or hauling 50-pound bags of grain from a feed store, there are lots of ways to save by bulk buying. The important thing is to safeguard against waste by making sure you have a safe place to store it and that you will use the entire purchase before it goes bad.
Do the Work
You can make your own bread for half the price of a low-end store-bought loaf, and end up with a more delicious and nutritious product. Pre-chopped and washed veggies cost a premium and don’t stay fresh as long. Roll up your sleeves and do your own prep work to save.
The recipe may call for pine nuts, but pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are way cheaper. Learn about more low-cost ingredient substitution ideas.
Stop Throwing Food Away
Since 40% of all food produced in the United States is thrown away, eliminating waste is low-hanging fruit. At our house, we avoid waste by serving the kids small portions and seconds (or thirds) as needed, using tiny containers to save every last leftover, and incorporating those leftovers into other dishes. There are plenty more ways to cut food waste.
You know by now that soda is bad for you, but you don’t need juice either. If you don’t like plain water, flavor it with a splash of juice instead of pouring whole glasses of juice. Not only does this save money , but it cuts calories too.
Try Batch Cooking
Assembly line cooking, once-a-month cooking, whatever you want to call it, prepping food ahead and freezing it saves money by accommodating bulk purchases and helping you avoid high-priced instant meals when you’re short of time.
Rinse Out the Container — Into the Pot
Whenever I empty a jar of tomatoes or a Tupperware of soup into a cooking pot, I put a little water in the container, shake, and empty it into the cooking pot, to make sure I’m not throwing away even a gram of food. The extra water cooks off.
Learn to Make Cheap Meat Delicious
Meat lovers don’t have to buy T-bones to enjoy a hearty meal. Osso buco, carnitas and hanger steak are all delicious when done right.
Adding beans or rice really does make a stew go farther.
Make Your Own
Prepared foods are among the highest-margin items in the supermarket. If you’ve never tried it, you might be surprised how easy it is to make your own guacamole, hummus, or even peanut butter.
Make Your Own Instant Mixes
Another high-cost item is “instant” anything. Make single-serve oatmeal packets, pancake mix, or practically anything you use a mix for, and save.
“Clearance” meat section, because it feels like savings and that is what it’s all about. Still, taking home items that are about to expire can save you 50% or more if you are able to use or freeze them right away.
Grow a Garden
Even if you only have a balcony, you can grow enough food to reduce your spending. To realize savings, it’s important to pay attention to how much you spend on a garden. Focus on plants that produce expensive items to save the most.
Use a Full Discount Arsenal
Coupons, online deals, in-store offers, rebates — these tactics really work and can easily cut your grocery spending by 20% or more.
Where you shop can make a big difference in what you spend for the same groceries. Changing from Expensive Grocery stores to Walmart could save a family more than $1,600 a year. Check out the Dollars stores they sell food items also. Explore your neighborhood — you may have a fresh produce market or a weekly farmer’s market with even better prices than big box stores.
Your berries got moldy the day after you bought them? You picked up the wrong item and paid full price instead of the sale item you thought you were getting? You where charge full price for a sale item. Take your receipt and flyer with you as proof. Don’t be afraid to stop by customer service the next time you visit; managers at good stores are happy to process the occasional refund.