Meal planning can be a difficult task, especially for busy families. If you’re trying to lower your food budget, it may seem ideal to plan your weekly menu based on the items for sale at the grocery store—but it’s also not something you may be able to practice on a regular basis. Here are some great frugal meal-planning tips that can help you stay within budget:
1) Keep your pantry well stocked.
Your pantry may be overflowing with goods acquired from couponing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got a well-stocked pantry. Make sure that you’ve got the basics on hand so you can throw together a meal at any given time. Have items such as onions, garlic, potatoes, canned tomatoes, pasta, rice and beans readily available. Also have fruits, vegetables, chicken and beef at all times.
2) Plan meals based on what’s in your kitchen.
At least once a week, carefully inspect the contents of your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Practice a little creativity and resourcefulness to come up with dishes using the items already in your kitchen. Not only will you keep things from going to waste, but you may just also save yourself a trip to the grocery store.
3) Try making dishes you would eat elsewhere.
If your kids really love pizza, then why not make some homemade pizza instead of calling for delivery? There are plenty of scrumptious recipes on the Internet just waiting to be tried—so be adventurous and try the ones that sound good to you. Homemade dishes are not only cheaper, but much healthier, too!
4) Use your slow cooker.
Many households blow their budget on Chinese takeout or pizza delivery because there’s no time to put dinner together. A slow cooker is not only a time-saver, but a cost-saver, too. It may require some planning ahead of time, but it will definitely help you avoid that sense of panic that arises when dinnertime nears and you’ve got nothing cooking.
There’s nothing shameful about serving leftovers to your family. Overcook a few days in a row and you’ll likely have enough leftovers for at least one full meal. If you’re coming home late (or won’t be home to cook for your family), the family can simply reheat the leftovers instead of settling for fast food or ordering in.
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