8 Tips For Family Meal Planning on a Budget
Feeding a family on a budget is not the simplest task. Ensuring that you have healthy meals that everyone enjoys while still saving some money is easier said than done. Many parents turn to fast food or takeout, because it’s easier than family meal planning on a budget. Since eating at home is one of the best frugal living tips you can try, knowing how to save money on food for your family is an important skill to have.
Although it may not be as easy as getting takeout, once you start family meal planning on a budget then it will become a habit you can incorporate into your daily life. All you need are some great ideas for family meals on a budget to get you started.
Stretch The Meat To Stretch Your Dollar
When making meat heavy recipes, try to think of ways to add cheaper ingredients. For example, when making tacos, add beans, corn, peppers, and grated zucchini into the taco meat. It not only helps bulk up the family meal to serve more, but it adds veggies and healthy legumes in as well.
Switch Grocery Stores to Save Big
No matter what recipes you’re making, you can save at least 14% off your grocery bill by shopping at Aldi. Cheapism compared prices across various grocery stores and found that Aldi is the cheapest place to buy groceries, even beating Walmart’s low prices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. households spend on average $4,643 on groceries a year. Meaning, you don’t need to live stingy on rice and beans to save money on food, you need to shop smart!
Don’t Shop for Everything at the Same Store
Not all grocery stores are created equal and no one store has the best deals on everything. Thus, one way to save money on groceries is to buy your supplies from a variety of stores so that you can get the best deals. For example, bulk purchasing dry goods that will last several months at wholesale stores like Costco is a great way to save on the staples that your family will consistently use in meals.
Saving money on one type of item will allow you to splurge on others as well. The point is, don’t feel like you need to stick to one store when it comes to grocery shopping and family meal planning on a budget. Strategically planning purchases and where you’ll purchase them has the potential to save you a lot of money on food!
When planning your family meals on a budget, look at the sales your local grocery stores have to offer. Plan your meals around sale items and the items you already have in your home to help stick to your food budget. Use frugal additions like pasta that are often on sale to help lower the cost of your family meals and stick to your budget. If you have room in your budget when shopping, grab an extra or two of items you often use that are on sale to help build a stockpile for feeding your family for less.
Include Plenty of Fresh Produce
Using fresh produce for salads and fresh fruit is a great way to save money when planning budget friendly meals for families. Produce has a high water content and plenty of fiber and necessary vitamins and minerals, making it a great choice for a healthy and frugal addition to your family’s meals.
You can do several things to lower the cost of produce even more when planning a family meal on a budget. Growing your own produce is a great budget-friendly way to feed your family whole foods. Other options to find frugal fresh produce include shopping at your local farmers market or your nearest produce wholesaler open to the public for sales. Fresh produce is a great way to reduce your family’s consumption of overly processed foods that can make them hungrier and save on even more expensive foods like meats.
Add Variety to Your Meal Ideas
If you need budget friendly meals for families that are fit for a special occasion, such as a family gathering or holiday, you’ll want to create a variety of food to feed everyone. This allows you to take advantage of the best deals available even if the food is not enough for everyone. If you have a variety of food, then people can pick and choose rather than needing enough of just one particular item for a meal. This works amazingly well for those serving a buffet-style, large family meal on a budget. As an added bonus, those with food allergies or dietary restrictions will be thrilled to come to your home as there is sure to be something they can eat!
Don’t Forget to Save on Drinks
When trying to save money on food, don’t forget the drinks! Whether it is a large family gathering or a small family dinner, at the end of the day the right budget-friendly drinks can go a long way in planning a family meal on a budget. While many families serve milk or juice with meals, this can become very expensive. Instead, try serving water, water with flavoring drops, or tea that is unsweetened or just lightly sweetened. Serving drinks before serving the meal can encourage your family to drink water before eating, helping them feel full faster as well.
Make a Soup a Staple
Soups are healthy, delicious, filling and most of all, cheap. When meal planning for the week, make a pot of soup that can be easily frozen and saved for when you need it. A nice and easy soup is a cheap way to expand your family meal and fills everyone up. Get in the habit of serving soup as an appetizer for meals or even as the main dish; it will be delicious and save you money too.
Don’t Fret! You Can Do Family Meal Planning on a Budget
Recently, with prices rising so rapidly, finding ways to do family meal planning on a budget has become even more of a challenge. Learning how to plan meals on a budget and save on all your grocery shopping is as crucial as it ever was. With these simple tips, you can put together a filling family meal of any size without sacrificing nutrition or breaking your budget.
Author Bio: Robyn is a millennial mom of 3 on a budget. Her blog is full of great ideas on how to raise a family on a budget and get your finances in order.