The days ahead of our country will have everyone home-bound. With schools and businesses closing their doors, many families are struggling to stretch their food budget. Groceries are flying off the shelves faster than employees can stock them. Before you buy supplies for the weeks ahead, consider these three tips for meal planning for a family on a budget.
3 Meal Planning Tips to Save You Money
1. Plan a Menu.
The first mistake people make at the grocery store is coming without a list. You will spend more each shopping trip if you don’t know what you need. You can save a ton of money by choosing a few recipes for the week, and knowing how much of each ingredient to buy. Look through your pantry and freezer to make sure you aren’t buying things you already have either.
When selecting your recipes, ask your family for their input. Include your spouse and kids in meal planning for a family on a budget. If you make things everyone likes, less food will go to waste. Be sure to make extra portions so your family can enjoy leftovers later in the week. This is especially helpful on those impossibly busy days or if you are feeding teenage boys.
2. Look for Sales and Discounts.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many corners you can trim from your food budget. First and foremost, avoid recipes with specialty ingredients or expensive cuts of meat. Stick to recipes that use more economical meats, seasonal produce, grains, or beans. Consider trying meatless options as well. Also, be sure to look for off-brand items so you don’t spend extra for the advertising. Off-brand items usually include the exact same ingredients for a fraction of the price.
Another was to save big when meal planning for a family on a budget is to shop in bulk. You can buy memberships to the whole-sale clubs or look for smaller discount chains like Aldi’s. If you really want to pinch your pennies, look through your Sunday paper for coupons or sign up to receive promotions from local supermarkets.
3. Avoid Processed Foods.
The last tip on this list is probably the most difficult. Those sugary treats and frozen snacks are delicious, but they are expensive. While you don’t need to give them up completely, you should take a hard look through your cupboards and see how much you spend on junk food and soda each month. Additionally, limit how much take-out you eat. Fast food and delivery fees add up very quickly.
Trimming the Fat with Meal Planning
Instead of looking at it as a sacrifice, view meal planning as an opportunity to make a healthy lifestyle change. Sticking to a budget can put strain on any family, but if everyone has a good attitude it could be a very positive thing. Although your family is likely to complain at first, remind them that a poor diet promotes unhealthy habits. These will cost you more in the long run, physically and financially.
Read More About Meal Planning
Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.