How to Save Money Through Meal Planning
For starters look in your freezer. Do you have much meat? If you have some chicken that can be the basis for an inexpensive chicken and rice dish or better yet stretch it to get two or three meals out of it. For example, even a few pieces of chicken are enough to make a simple stir fry today and homemade chicken soup tomorrow. If you don't have fresh vegetables on hand frozen will do. Even a pound of ground beef or ground turkey can be stretched to make two meals. Brown a pound of ground beef and use half of it for spaghetti sauce for tonight's dinner then freeze the other half for chili or goulash at the end of the week. Since it is already precooked you can just thaw and toss it right into the sauce!
Next check your pantry. Do you have rice, noodles, canned soup or even pancake mix on hand? These inexpensive staples can give you some simple meals based on what is in your freezer or refrigerator. One of our favorite meals is breakfast for dinner such as french toast and hashbrowns which is quick and inexpensive.
Money Saving Strategies at the Grocery Store
After you have gone through your pantry chances are you are going to need a few things to get you through the week so this is where you need to be creative. Take inventory of what you have and add only what you need to complete inexpensive meals. Check out the store fliers and go through your coupons and see where you can save. The majority of your list can be made up of inexpensive staples that you are out of such as eggs, rice, beans, breads and cereals. Everyone can get by on cereal or oatmeal for breakfast and keep lunches simple by serving inexpensive egg salad or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with fruit or maybe leftovers from last night's dinner. If you do need more expensive items such as meat check out what's on sale and figure out what types of frugal meals that you can make. Often you will find that the large packs of meat is cheaper by the pound so plan to spend $10 or more on a large pack of chicken or ground beef and see how many frugal meals you can get out of it.
Cooking from Scratch: An Easy Way to Save Money
One thing that will save you the most during this time is depending less on convenience foods. If you like to have treats on your house bake them from scratch or purchase cake mixes and brownie mixes on sale and/or with coupons. A 10 pound bag of potatoes is much more economical than buying prepackaged side dishes. Many people believe that cooking from scratch takes too much time but that doesn't have to be the case. You can plan leftovers by making extra chicken for tomorrow's chicken casserole or prepare double batches of soups and sauces and freeze half then you always have quick meals at your fingertips.
Budgeting Money to Get Ahead
Sometimes it takes a financial crisis for us to force ourselves to look for creative ways to save. You may find however, that even after your financial crisis has passed you have become so accustomed to budgeting money to save on food and other necessities that it becomes a lifelong habit.