5 Meal Planning Tips for the Frugal Family

5 Frugal Meal Planning Tips

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.

5) Overcook.

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.

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.

Photo Credit: iClipart

How to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money on Groceries

How to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money on GroceriesThere are plenty of ways to save money on food. Some families choose to coupon and buy in bulk, while other families stick to a basic grocery list and avoid purchasing anything not on that list. While these tricks work, it is also possible to save money by purchasing just enough for the family and avoiding any waste. Here are some tips on reducing food waste that will help you save money:

1) Go to the grocery store once a week.

Save time (and gas) by only going grocery shopping once a week or even once every two weeks. If your meal planning skills aren’t quite honed, do your shopping one or two days ahead of time. As you master the art of meal planning, you can buy enough groceries for longer periods of time.

2) Regularly inspect the contents of your kitchen.

Check the contents of your fridge, freezer and pantry every few days to ensure that you use anything nearing the end of its safe storage or expiration period. It may help to make a running list of the items in your shelves and freezer and their “best before” dates.

3) Swap your goods around.

Regularly rotate the boxed and canned goods on your shelves so that the items in the back don’t remain unopened. Food items at the back of the shelves are often the ones that get too old to be eaten, because you’ve forgotten that they are even there.

4) Be realistic about your meal plan.

As you plan your meals for the week, be realistic about how much time you will actually have to cook and prepare your dishes. Don’t buy lots of fresh produce if you know you won’t be able to use it right away. Opt to purchase produce that have longer storage lives, or buy frozen foods that don’t easily spoil. You may also want to designate which days you’ll be able to spend more time cooking, and which days you’ll be bringing out the slow cooker.

Follow the abovementioned steps and you’ll be able to reduce a lot more food waste and saveg much more on your groceries. Just a few simple practices can truly make a big difference!

Photo Credit: iClipart