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Eating Well and Healthy on a Small Budget

Times are tough. Many families are looking for ways to save money anywhere they can. Sometimes it seems that your grocery bill each month is more than your mortgage or rent. It’s true. Eating healthy can be expensive. However, it really doesn’t have to be. You can still eat healthy and really cut your grocery bill.

If you can save money at the grocery store, you can really help balance your family budget.

 

 Here are a few simple strategies to eat well on a small budget.

 1.   Plan ahead

There’s nothing worse for the budget than going to the grocery store for tonight’s dinner. Because you’re tired, rushed and probably hungry, you’re likely going to buy whatever is easiest. This isn’t cost effective. Instead, plan ahead. Make a list of breakfast, lunch and dinner meals on the weekend. Choose recipes and make sure you have the ingredients. If not, add them to your list. Once you get to the store, shop from your list. If you deviate from your list make sure it makes sense to do so.

 

 2.  Use the store supplements

Every week, most grocery stores publish ads. These ads highlight what’s on sale for the week. Use this information to create your meal plan for the week. Also look for items you can buy and freeze.

The store supplements are often found in the newspaper or online. Before you make your weekly shopping list, grab a copy of the store’s weekly advertisement. Use the ad to plan your meals and create your shopping list. For example, if apples are on sale for fifty cents a pound, then you know you’re having apples this week. Maybe apple pancakes or apple bread for breakfast.

 

 3.  Stock up

Many things freeze well. You can save tons of money each month if you stock up on sale items and freeze them. Bread, for example, can cost five dollars a loaf. If you find it on sale, then buy several loaves. Chicken and other meats often go on sale too.

 4.  Buy in bulk

Most grocers now have a bulk food section.

Often, bulk foods cost much less. Look at bulk produce. Is it cheaper to buy a bag of apples than to buy them individually and pay by the pound? What about potatoes and onions? Tomatoes? Buy your grains, nuts, cereals and snacks in bulk too.

You can buy peanut butter, honey, syrup and of course grains, baking ingredients, cereals and snacks here. Explore the family packaging in the meat section too. Large packages of chicken, beef and fish are often cheaper by the pound than the smaller packages.

Buy family packages. You can separate them at home into smaller meal-sized portions. Place them in freezer bags. Label the bag so you know when you bought it and what it is.

5. Join your store loyalty program

Most large supermarkets and grocery stores now have loyalty programs. You sign up for the program; it should be free. Then you receive member pricing on the store-sponsored items. This can save you several hundred dollars each month.

6.  Buy store brand

There’s often very little difference between a name brand food item and a store brand, except price. Store brands have become very savvy. They taste great. They are healthy, often even organic. And they can save you a lot of money. Look for store meats, store soup, store brand cereal, store brand sauces and pastas.

 

 7. Use coupons

Today there are more coupon websites than ever before. You can save tons of money on basic household items. You can also save on packaged food like cereal, nutrition bars, snacks and beverages.

8. Visit the butcher 

 Often, you can save as much as 50% on your meats if you buy them from the local butcher. Visit yours and compare prices.

 9. Visit the farmer’s market.

 If you have a farmer’s market in town, visit it and compare prices. Often, because the produce doesn’t have to be shipped and is local, you can save money. And the produce generally tastes wonderful.

 10. Buy what’s in season.

If you’re trying to buy apples in May you’re going to pay more for them than in August and September when they’re in season. Buy your fruits and veggies when they’re in season and save money.

 

 11. Cut back on meat

Do you really need to eat meat every night? Did you know that beans and rice are a complete protein? Beans and rice are a whole lot cheaper than a package of meat too. Try to cut back and eat a few vegetarian meals each week. You’ll likely be healthier and you’ll save money on groceries. And there are some really tasty vegetarian recipes.

 

With a little advanced planning and some thought you can feed your family really well and still save lots of money. Pay attention to what’s on sale.

In addition to these eleven tips, experts recommend planning your menu for the week. Make a shopping list based on that menu plan. Then shop from the list. If you use these money-saving strategies combined with your menu planning strategy, you can cut your grocery bill by 50% each month.

 

 

How to Meal Plan – Tips and Ideas

Whether you’re looking to save money or prepare meals quickly, you often see suggestions for planning your meals. If you’re unfamiliar with meal planning then this can be frustrating and confusing advice. Here’s how to meal plan.

 1.  Use your supermarket ads

Take a look at the sale items for the week at your local supermarket. What’s on sale? Anything you’d likely buy and eat? Anything that can make a meal? For example, if ground beef is on sale for half price, then you may want to make a note of that. If squash is on sale then make a note of that.

 2. Use your resources

If you have cookbooks on hand, then great. The next thing you can do to plan your meals for the week is open up your cookbooks and look for recipes with ground beef, squash and any other items you found on sale in the supplements. If you don’t have cookbooks then simply visit an online cooking site. For example, best-healthy-recipes.info .

 

3. Plan your meals

 You now have both sale items and recipes at your fingertips, which means you’re ready to plan. Sit down and look at the five to seven nights you have to work with. Consider meals that can be made ahead of time and frozen.

Consider meals that generate leftovers so you don’t have to cook every night. Also look to make sure you’re providing a well-rounded meal. For example, hamburgers alone aren’t a healthy meal. IF you add cole slaw and sweet potato fries then you’re providing more nutrients. And if cabbage and sweet potatoes are on sale then you’re really doing well!

 

 4. Make a list

Make a list of the ingredients you need for the entire week’s worth of food. Don’t forget to check your staples like bread, milk and eggs.

 5. Go shopping

 Make sure you shop from your list. If you deviate from the list, make sure you have a logical reason for the addition. A list helps you stay organized. It also helps you stay on budget.

 

Meal planning isn’t difficult. However, it does require a system. You need to be both organized and a bit patient. Sometimes the sale items just don’t mesh with the recipes you have in mind. Or your week is really busy. Whole Wheat Pasta and salad or even breakfast for dinner are options for those busy nights. Get creative and have fun. Meal planning really can alleviate much of the stress of busy families and meal time.

 

Here are some good ideas:

Five Family Meal Ideas

  Quick, Easy, and Cheap!

Groceries are expensive. Time is money. And who wants to spend hours in the kitchen each night? It’s much more fun to spend that time with family or relaxing. The good news is you don’t have to sweat over a hot stove. You don’t need to spend a fortune either. Here are five quick, easy and cheap family meal ideas.

 1. Beans and rice

Beans and rice can be prepared so many ways it’s amazing. From Mexican style beans and rice, to Cajun style, there’s a recipe for everyone’s tastes. From the south? Try Hoppin John. It’s delicious. Best of all, it’s cheap and easy too. And when combined, beans and rice provide a complete protein. No meat required for this meal.

 

 2. Roast chicken

 Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned roast chicken? Whole chickens are inexpensive and they generally provide enough food for more than one meal. You can use the leftovers for a tasty chicken salad served on a bed of greens or a chicken noodle casserole. There are also two time-saving ways to manage a roast chicken. You can buy a whole roasted chicken already cooked at your grocery’s deli. Or you can roast one on the weekend and reheat it for mealtime. (You can also cut the roasting time in half by splitting the chicken down the middle.

 3. Fish and a salad

 Fish actually only takes a few minutes to cook. And there is fish you can get at a very low cost. Grab a bag salad and you have a very healthy meal you can prepare for a few dollars. And it’ll take less than ten minutes to prepare.

 4.  Soup and stew

 Soups and stews are really inexpensive. When paired with whole wheat bread and a salad they’re also quite satisfying and healthy. You can buy premixed soup and stew items at the store. Just add them to your crock pot in the morning and they’re ready when you get home. You can also make them on the weekend and reheat when it’s time to eat.

 5.  Pasta

There is Whole Wheat Pasta which is healthy. You can do almost anything with pasta. Pasta with tomato sauce, Pasta with sardines… There are literally hundreds of pasta recipes. Best of all, pasta is quick. It’s cheap and it’s tasty. You really can’t go wrong with pasta. Add a salad and you have a complete meal.

With a little patience and planning you can serve your family quick and easy healthy meals every night of the week. And you can save money doing it.