Stretching your grocery dollar with cheap, nutritious meals is essential for many moms. Unfortunately, a lot of the cheapest meals aren't healthy or tasty, making them a family flop. Try these cheap meal ideas for affordable options your whole family will enjoy and you'll actually have time to cook.
Shopping sales and choosing less expensive foods can help cut your grocery budget. Plan your cheap meal menu around the most affordable foods in your market, including seasonal produce, lower cost cuts of meat and filling whole grains. Take advantage of markets with bulk sections or ethnic groceries to purchase spices inexpensively, adding flavor to simple foods. Comparison-shop local stores, warehouse clubs, health food stores and ethnic markets for the best prices and quality for your dollar.
Beans are one of the best grocery bargains around, offering protein, fiber and a lot of nutrients in each filling bite. While canned beans are an affordable choice, cooking dry beans is even cheaper. Try cooking beans in your slow cooker for a busy mom-friendly option. Season beans and serve them as-is, use in soups or stews, or make burritos. Beans pair well with a number of other budget-friendly choices, like rice, potatoes and cornbread.
Stretch It Out
Stretching meals with healthy ingredients can keep your family full and make your budget go further. You can also use beans to stretch family favorites, making meat go further. Try adding lentils to sloppy Joe filling or black beans to taco meat. Roast a chicken for dinner on Sunday, make soup with the carcass and remaining meat or serve up a casserole with the leftovers. You can do the same make-it-once, eat-it-twice strategy with roast beef or pork. The second time around, add a seasoning mix with a distinctly different flavor profile to increase the contrast.
Rethink Your Plate
Plan your meals around pasta, rice, potatoes or another grain or starch. This is how your grandmother stretched her grocery dollar, and it works today just as well as it did back then. Fill the majority of your plate with grains and vegetables, opting for frozen if fresh are costly. Try serving bowls of rice with your favorite taco toppings, making a stir-fry with vegetables and chicken thighs, or topping mashed potatoes or egg noodles with a quick and affordable stroganoff. Buy heads of lettuces and bags of carrots and enlist your kids in the veggie prep instead of buying premade salad mixes. The crispy salads you serve with your favorite creamy dressing will taste fresher and better.
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