Is being busy with work or taking the kids to sporting events getting in the way of planning healthy, convenient and inexpensive dinners?
If you're trying to stick to a food budget, making emergency grocery trips and ordering takeout can really add up.
The secret to quick, easy and delicious dining is all about meal planning.
Follow our advice to create healthy meals for your family without overspending.
The key to meal planning is having the right foods around when you need them, and refraining from making unnecessary trips to the grocery store. Grocery shoppers are subject to store layouts that encourage impulse purchases, which account for as much as 60 percent of all purchases. Those are excessive costs you want to avoid by going to the grocery store less often and sticking to your grocery list.
With effective meal planning, you're able to go to the store once during a week or month to gather all of the foods and ingredients you need to make every meal in your plan.
If you keep a stash of easy-to-make recipes with flexible ingredients (e.g., trade chicken for pork or steak for chicken), you're able to rotate through meals and maintain a reasonable budget by planning dinners in advance.
Before you begin meal planning, it's a good idea to assemble a list of foods and corresponding cost-effective recipes. These recipes start with inexpensive ingredients that allow you to stretch your budget.
Try to target versatile foods. Chicken, for example, may be used as the base protein in many dishes. Adding other ingredients and switching up preparation styles helps keep things fresh. Beans, mushrooms and starches are good for many meals, contain nutritional value and are also more filling than other foods.
Target other low-cost versions of your favorite foods. For instance, dark meat chicken may be used in soups, chili or quesadillas as a way to maximize leftovers. Buying a chuck roasts costs less than a premium roast and it still yields a delicious meal. The longer you cook a roast, the more fat melts away, leaving behind only the delicious protein.
What you buy is equally as important as where you buy it. When shopping for meats and vegetables for your weekly meals, ask yourself: Where am I going to get the best value for my money?
Don't waste your time, gas money or energy making multiple, excessive trips to the supermarket. Or, based on the period of time within your meal-planning schedule, buy in bulk. This saves time and money in the long run, as well.
If you crave variety, long-term food storage and the convenience of not having to visit the grocery store, the option of home food delivery ensures that you have the foods you need when you need them.
Packaging is an important component in the right home food delivery service. The right food packaging keeps food preserved for longer periods of time, which really pays off if it's quality food. Portion-controlled packaging also reduces your usage and focuses you on healthier eating.
For example, if you buy individually wrapped protein portions that cut down your usage from 6 ounces to 4 ounces per meal, you stand to see long-term cost savings and benefit from a healthier diet.
While the word "budget" has been thrown around a lot already, it's important to understand that the kind of budget advice we're offering has more to do with maintaining healthy eating on a budget than helping you see huge cost savings in a short period of time.
Our advice surrounding food budgets is designed to promote a long-term meal planning budget philosophy, one that ensures you stick to a list of foods and recipes in order to eliminate unnecessary spending and eating.
Start your recipe collection with a set of easy-to-make recipes your family will love – from citrus-basil salmon to balsamic pork chops to chili-rubbed steak. Download 9 Easy Recipes You Can Prepare In 29 Minutes below.