This article is for you if you have a large family to feed but struggle to do so on a budget. With everything else going on in our lives, cooking and eating healthy, especially during the week, can be very difficult. It is much easier to get take-out than cook a full meal that everyone is going to like after a long day of work. However, you can take some easy steps to make cooking on a budget easier.
Tips for Cooking on a Budget
Make a Plan
The first step towards cooking on a budget is to create a meal plan for each week. A lot of savings on meals begins in the grocery store and how you can get the most out of everything you purchase. If your ingredients are low cost, your meals will be low cost too. This starts with knowing what you need and not straying from that list. When you go to the grocery store with no plan, you buy things you don’t need, which will end up going to waste. Instead, create a meal plan and check to see if you already have any ingredients. Once you have determined what you actually need from the store, you’re ready to go.
You may feel a certain loyalty to the name-brand products, but have you ever stopped to think about why that is? The truth is that most generic versions of the big-name brands are nearly identical, if not exactly the same. Especially when it comes to ingredients, you can save up to a dollar on a can of chickpeas by choosing the store brand instead of Goya. Much of our commitment to name-brand products can be attributed simply to marketing, but the quality is usually very similar.
Shop for The Best Deals
Even though it can be a hassle to do half your grocery shopping at one store, only to head over to another one after. However, while this might add time to your trip, the savings can make it worth it. Many stores have different prices for the same products, and the quality can even be better in the stores that are less expensive. For example, you might shop all of your dry goods at Walmart, but their produce is expensive and lackluster. So instead of buying everything at Walmart, you can head to an international market with a larger variety, better quality, and lower prices on their fruits and vegetables.
Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas
Anything in a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers, or crockpots, are a great way to make a meal for your big family on a budget. One of the hardest parts about cooking from home to save money is finding the time to make a whole meal. Cooking is time-consuming, and with all of our other responsibilities, it is understandable why cutting corners and buying foods premade is appealing.
However, you and your family will not only benefit from cooking at home financially, but it is also better for your body and health. A slow cooker meal is a fantastic way to save time and money but still have a meal everyone is going to love. You can start the cooker before work, and it will slowly cook the meal all day, so when you get home, it is ready to be enjoyed. You can make dishes like soups, stews, roasts, casseroles, and more all in one pot.
Casseroles and layered dishes such as Italian lasagna or Greek pastichio are great options if you want to prepare the meal in advance. A dish like this can sit in your refrigerator overnight or even for a whole day before you are ready to cook it. When you are ready to eat, just take it out and add any final ingredients like a liquid to help with cooking, then throw it in the oven, and you’ll have a meal that requires no prep work the day of. This is great if you have time on the weekend but want the meal to be ready to eat one weeknight. All of the preparation, and dishwashing, for the meal are finished so that you don’t have to waste your free time after work making an elaborate meal.
Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes for a bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia.