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Dinner is an important meal, and it is usually the largest one of the day. As a result, preparing dinner for the family can get expensive. If you are interested in saving money while still providing quality food for your family, you should take a look at these seven money saving tips.
You will want to plan your meals a week at a time. This means on Sunday or Monday, you take some time to sketch out what you will be cooking each night of the week.
This way you can make one shopping trip a week (or every two weeks if you can), and that will help you save money because you’re less likely to make impulse buys (because you’re in the store less often) or to overbuy (because you know what you’re cooking).
Miss T: We do this very process once every two weeks. We pick 30 minute or less recipes that we can cook during the week and we schedule them in the calendar. We write down what ingredients we need and this plans out our grocery shop. It has become a very efficient process and our wallets and health have thanked us.
Meat can get expensive, but there are ways to reduce costs and still keep the protein in your diet. For example, you can choose inexpensive cuts of meat, such as a ground beef instead of a filet. You can also go with chicken, and you can even buy whole chickens, which can be deboned, and cooked. You can even use the bones to make homemade chicken stock.
You can also try out some inexpensive fish like tilapia every once in a while.
When it comes to vegetables, you will want to buy things that are in season. Even though your grocery store will have just about everything all the time, some vegetable prices vary throughout the year. You can look up the vegetable seasons for your area of the country and try to buy those vegetables when you can.
If you want try canning vegetables, tomatoes are especially easy. Canned vegetables can be used when the vegetables are not available or when they are not in season (and more expensive).
Make Vegetarian Dishes
Vegetarian dishes are often less expensive than meat based dishes simply because vegetables are less expensive than meat. To cut costs, you should try to work a vegetarian dish into your dinner schedule once or twice a week.
You can make dishes like vegetable fajitas or primavera pasta. For more, great vegetarian dish ideas, check out this site – http://vegetarian.betterrecipes.com/vegetariandinnerrecipes.html
Miss T: Apart from the health benefits we have reduced our food bill by 25% or more as a result of going vegetarian.
Rice, Beans, and Pasta
These three items are staples that you can buy in bulk and add in to a number of dinner recipes. They are inexpensive and healthy, and when you buy them in bulk you can save even more money.
Tip – You will want to buy dried beans instead of canned ones because they are much less expensive. They are also lower in sodium and you can cook them in a crock pot which frees up your time.
Cut Out Soda and other Processed Drinks
Soda and other processed drinks can be expensive if you buy a lot of them. Instead, you can buy tea in bulk, including hot teas and iced tea. Also, water and milk are cheaper and healthier than soda.
Make Homemade Desserts
Instead of buying premade items, you can make desserts once a week (or more or less). You can also try making things that will last a few days like cakes or cookies so that you do not have to bake as often. Ingredients for these items are much cheaper (and even healthier) than the premade desserts.
These are all great tips! I think I’m already doing all of these but the number one thing I’ve found to reduce your food bill is to say no to your cravings and eat whatever is about to go bad. I have a big problem with not being “in the mood” for salad and before I know it, the spinach I bought is a big bag of goo. That’s $3 into the garbage. These days I try really hard to eat all of the fresh produce I buy, and not let any of it spoil. This goes for leftovers too.
I didn’t think of this, great idea
These are all great tips. I also try to use my slow cooker because it is more efficient and saves money (cheaper to run than oven). I also use a toaster oven frequently.
Slow cooker is great if you don’t feel like cooking, just set it and forget it.
I like to buy my meat in bulk. It’s hard for me to go vegetarian. I also buy frozen vegetables when I can. Beans are great because they’re full of fiber, protein and are super cheap. Even the canned variety. I know I can save more money with raw beans, but I don’t like the idea of having to soak them overnight and then cook them all day. Too much work.
Time is money! I also buy canned/fronzed products, for the efficiency. I only bulk buy meat when it’s on sell and throw it in the deep freezer. Now, I just have to remember we have the food in the deep freezer lol
I refuse to go to the grocery store more than 2 a month. I saved 1k / month by shopping less frequently. The reason is because I buy tons of crap if I shop at a more frequent pace. So if I don’t get it in week 1, i must go without until week 2.
Great tips! Though planning meals ahead is really hard for me to implement.
It’s tough for everyone, until they get used to it! Try planning 1 week at a time before increasing frequency.
We’ve been cutting our food bills recently by eating a lot of in season veggies (and figuring out how to spice them the way we like…like zucchini) instead of automatically buying what we like the most. That has helped shave about $30 a month right off the bat.
Good tip, vegetables and fruits are definitely seasonal and you can save some serious bucks this way.
I’m getting better with my meal planning, but you have some really great money-saving tips. It’s almost funny that you mentioned making vegetarian dishes, because this was the one thing I just knew I would never be successful with. However, I’ve just started doing this, and it’s going quite well. Also, I love you “meat” suggestions. Thanks for this helpful post.
Thanks! I’m an occasional vegetarian lol. I just love the meats too much to go full vegetarian, but if “needed” to save money I know what I would cut out.
I used to plan meals but now I just plan them in my head. I do enjoy rice and beans though so that helps the budget a bunch. Unfortunately my girlfriend hates beans so I don’t get to eat them as much as I would like.
Hates beans!!! really? There has to be a story behind this!
You can save a bundle by cutting your own vegetables rather than buying pre-cut, frozen ones. But then, cooking at home is always better than going out! 🙂
This is very very true. For the cost of a meal at a restaurant you can feast like a king! As for cutting your own vs pre-cut, if you have hte time cut your own if not.. buy the can/ frozen
I dish us up a soup (usually from the freezer or slow cooker) as I am preparing dinner – I find that the kids are happier with smaller portions and I get a load more veggies into them too.
Not huge bowls -just a ladle full but it has made a difference
Great tip, especially on feeding kids. Small portions, early and often 🙂
I take a flexitarian approach as often as I can and use meat to simply flavor a dish, not be the main event. The hubs and I usually have breakfast for dinner once a week since eggs, toast, and home made hashbrowns (using a cheese grater) are so cheap.
Yum, breakfast for dinner! Great tasting and cheap. smart meal planning!
I save money with dried beans. I cook them in a crock pot, then cool them down, portion them into cheap sandwich baggies (the foldover kind, squeeze out the air, then freeze the bags on a cookie sheet in the freezer. I’m the only one who like lots of beans so doing it this way is very convenient. Hominy is something only I like. I buy the big cans, portion them into the cheap baggies, tie and freeze. Much cheaper than buying the small cans. Potatoes- buy a big bag on sale. Wash, poke, and boil some of them plain, peel, boil and mash the rest. When the mash potatoes are cool I form them into balls and freeze on the cookie sheet. When frozen, yep, into the baggies. Plain boiled ones just go into baggies and get frozen. To avoid confusion in the freezer I made cardboard boxes, just the right sizes to store everything. Since I cook several kinds of beans I label the bean boxes. I got these ideas from my years of working fast food. I always admire the way stock was so organized and labeled in the freezers and walk-ins.
I have done the same thing with beans. I have also used my pressure cooker which is awesome. They cook so fast. You can use it for lentils too.
You sound so organized. I love it. You and me are from the same pod. I label and organize everything.