Yes! That’s right! You can actually eat really healthy for really cheap! When I was looking online to find grocery tips, I kept coming across sites that were certainly extremely frugal but were lacking severely in the nutrition department. What’s the point of saving on groceries when my family keeps getting sick due to processed crappy food? Well, I am pleased to tell you that you don’t have to give up on nutrition for the sake of a tight budget. Here is how…
- Keep meals simple. There is no need to make 4-5 sides. Stick with just a couple things or better yet, one pot meals. Easy! We eat lots of roasted veggies (cooked on one cookie sheet), a simple meat (like hamburger patties) and rice (mostly for the kiddos, my Hubs does best low carb).
- Nix those processed snacks! Chips, cookies, sodas and such are not only awful for you but they cost. When you have a tight budget, every dollar counts. Think to yourself, is this going to fill my kid? Is this going to give them vitamins and minerals they need? Teach your kids to like water. Or introduce them to herbal teas with stevia or honey (my kiddos favorite) as a special treat. Trade chips for air popped popcorn or roasted sweet potatoes. Fruit and peanut butter instead of sugary treats.
- Stay away from packaged dinners. They may look cheap but if you cook from scratch, you will end up with way more food. Got to love those leftovers! Plus, you know what is in them and you can customize it to your family’s liking.
- Use less meat. What! No! What about protein? I’m tell you all, trust me, we Americans are not lacking in protein. You only need 0.36 g of protein per a pound. That means your 40lb child only needs 14.4 grams a protein a day. An egg is 7 grams of protein.
- Bulk meals up with veggies! When I make spaghetti, I use one pound of ground beef for all 6 of us. How? The rest of my meat sauce contains a whole eggplant, mushrooms and a zucchini…maybe 2. We usually have meat sauce left over.
- Meal Plan! I know, meal planning can be such a pain. It’s so tempting to go to the store without a list and buy whatever sounds good. But I am tell you all, this is the number one biggest money saver of all times!!!! Not to mention, it takes away that 5pm “What’s for dinner” crisis.
- Stick with whole foods. Roasted sweet potatoes are going to be way more filling than potato chips. An apple is going to satisfy you longer than a cookie. Beans and rice cooked from scratch are going to have way less additives and preservatives than an instant dinner box or ramen noodles.
- Build your meals around sales. Ground beef is on sale? We are having hamburgers, meatballs, meatloaf and taco soup all week. Are carrots on sale? We are going to roast carrots, make carrot muffins, carrot and apple puree, put carrots in our meatballs…you get the picture. Look up recipes for the items on sale and utilize those sales items as much as possible.
- Think of every meal as a dollar amount. Dinners for us are around $5-$12 each. So when I look up recipes and meal plan, I count how much each ingredient will cost. If it goes over $12, I either modify the recipe or find a new one. Or I make a really cheap meal like $4-$5 and have a $15 meal. I plan on dinners costing around $65 a week. Dinners are our biggest meal of the day so it’s the most expensive. Usually the more expensive dinners produces leftovers! Win! Some may like bigger lunches and smaller dinner. Whatever works for you. As long you take into account how much each meal cost, you can plan accordingly.
- Plan a quick backup meal. It’s going to happen you all. You come home later than expected or have one event happen after another. Before you know it, you have 4 little kiddos and a starving husband looking to you for a quick meal. Ah!!! It stresses me out! Can anyone relate? Things happen and dinner just doesn’t get prepped before the tummies start rumbling. I have 2 meals I always go to for such a time as this! Omelettes and Taco salad! Eggs are super cheap. I always keep a couple extra dozen on hand for random omelette nights. It takes about 5 minutes to make and with enough cheese, my kids gobble it up. Done! Bam! Dinner is served! Taco salad is our family favorite. I always keep a bag of cooked ground beef in the freezer, couple cans of black beans, salsa and corn chips in the pantry. We eat lots of greens so I always have an abundant amount of romaine on hand. The precooked ground beef and beans just takes a few minutes to heat up on the stove. Served over lots of lettuce and topped with salsa, my family is completely satisfied.
- Keep 2 of the 3 meals very simple. Our breakfast consists of either scrambled eggs and bananas, oatmeal with blueberries or peanut butter on toast. Sometimes I will make muffins or scones from scratch. The Hubs and I will eat a salad topped with hard boiled eggs for lunch while the kids usually have black beans, chopped bell pepper and avocados. I like to make fritattas, soup enough for a few days or tuna and crackers. I have very similar things every week for lunch. Leftovers are nice too.
- Use cash. Whether you get paid monthly or weekly, cash is way easier to keep track. You will know exactly how much you have spent and how much you have left. I take $500 out every month at the beginning. I know not everyone can’t do that. That’s just what works for us. I budget $100 a week. I reserve $100 a month for bulk items that always seems to throw off the weekly budget.
So here is what a day looks like…
Breakfast- 1 dozen scrambled eggs and 5 bananas= $ 3
Lunch– Kids-tuna (made with finely chopped bell peppers and Greek yogurt) and crackers, Parents- salad with romaine lettuce, left over chicken from last night’s dinner and avocado= $6
Dinner– Veggie and meat marinara over rice (over greens for the Hubs, he likes to eat low carb)= $7
Snacks– a whole cantaloupe (sale fruit of the week)= $1
Total= $17 for a day