Good, cheap eats
You might think “ramen noodles” when you think cheap meals, but budget-friendly dinners don’t have to taste like college-student fare. In fact, making healthy, delicious meals on a budget is possible!
It starts with planning. Scour your grocery store flyers for specials and coupons, and plan your weekly meals around the deals being offered that week.
Supercook and Recipe Matcher are also excellent resources to help you plan your meals. Simply input the ingredients you have and they will show you all the recipes you can make using those ingredients.
If you find a great deal, buying and cooking in bulk is another fantastic way to save money. If ground meat is on sale, pick up a few pounds and cook up double batch of a favorite casserole, chili or soup, like this hearty and healthy Mexican Soup from Eating Well that costs under $2.50 per serving. Leftovers can be frozen and heated up for another night.
The Internet is also a great tool to use to help you find budget meal-planning guides. All You and NetMums are two useful sites that provide suggested weekly meal plans, recipes and other tips and resources.
6 ways to keep costs under control in the kitchen:
- Buy items in season. It’s amazing how much cheaper broccoli and cucumbers are, for example, when they’re local and plentiful.
- Stretch your food dollars with healthy but inexpensive items. We Got Real has great suggestions for using filling but frugal staples like potatoes, beans, lentils, oats, eggs, sweet potatoes and squash to stretch your budget.
- Get creative. Buy ingredients that can be made into more than one meal. Visit Cheap Healthy Good to see how a couple turned one roasting chicken and some pantry staples into 17 healthy meals for just $26!
- Have a “fridge food” night. One night a week, rifle through the fridge and make a meal using whatever leftovers you find. Pair that with anything in your pantry that is close to its expiry date. It might not be a traditional meal, but it will save you from wasting food.
- Make use of your freezer. If there’s a great sale on perishable items like bread, butter or meat, stock up and pop them in the freezer for future use. Just make sure to write down what you’ve stashed away so you don’t forget what’s in there.
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat. There’s nothing wrong with using cheaper cuts, you just have to make sure you use them to their best advantage. Try slow braising tough cuts like skirt steak or flank steak until they’re fork-tender and delicious. Check out The Kitchn for some great ideas for cooking with cheaper meats.
Fast foods and processed foods may sometimes seem like a better option when you’re counting your pennies. However with a little planning and resourcefulness, making meals using whole, fresh foods can be easy on the pocketbook—and they’re a whole lot healthier for your family.
411948C CAN/US (07/15)