Feeding a family on a limited budget requires some mastery. You probably already know to avoid common pitfalls like shopping while hungry or, even worse, taking hungry kids grocery shopping with you. The following three strategies may seem super simple, but they also really help get more meals out per dollar and keep food waste to a minimum.
Cooking from scratch at home with fresh produce and meat or fish is a lot healthier than buying precooked frozen meals. It also happens to be a lot cheaper. Try swapping out your favorite prepackaged or takeout foods with homemade versions. Next time you’re shopping for pizza night, skip the frozen foods aisle and try making this scrumptious Basil Pesto Alfredo Pizza with fresh tomatoes and basil instead.
Buying an ingredient in larger quantities generally lowers its unit price. But buying in bulk only really saves you money if you use everything before it expires. Buying pantry staples like vinegar, rice, or canned beans in bulk is a great idea because they have a long shelf life. Only buy meat, chicken, fish or produce in large quantities if you plan to use it in multiple meals or freeze it for future use. For instance, you can cook up a batch of chicken breasts then use the chicken to make several recipes during the week such as Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Verde, Chicken Broccoli Divan and Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Bake.
Blue cheese may be on sale, but does your family like it? Resist the urge to shop bargains that nobody in your family will eat. Use past meal successes as the basis for future meals and then keep track of price fluctuations on the foods that you shop for the most. It’s even handy to keep a price list for those preferred items and shop around to different grocery stores. Of course, variety is the spice of life, so it’s great to branch out from time to time. Just don’t make every meal an experiment.