Eating on a Budget: 7 Great Tips

There are plenty of reasons why eating on a budget is important. For example, did you know that for most American families, groceries and food are the second largest monthly expense, right next to rent ? Also, Did you know most people waste at least $40 of food each month? Sometimes more. When money is tight, your meal budget is probably the best place to look to cut costs and save the most. 

To start, know that making a meal plan is a key feature of eating on a budget. Most of the upcoming suggestions assume you will make a meal plan first. Here are 7 of the best tips to help you eat according to your budget and save you money: 

7 steps to eating on a budget 

Repurpose meals

A lot of recipes make enough to have two or three whole dinners. My family used to make a pot roast on Sunday, then use the leftovers to make beef taquitos and French-dip sandwiches throughout the week. For those of you not keeping track, that’s three meals for the cost of one! During your meal planning session, find meals that will make an excess of food so you can make something else later.  

Plan a leftover night

With most of us wasting a lot of food, a leftover night can turn into a free dinner night that everyone in the family will love. The kids can pick their favorite meal and eat it again. What luck!  

Make a grocery list and stick to it

Make a list based on your meal plan. A lot of people find it works best to organize the list based on location in the grocery store. The reason this works is because this organization tactic lets you get in, get what you need, and get out without having to peruse the aisles needlessly. Also, before going to the grocery store, make sure you eat something. If you’re hungry you’re prone to impulse buys. If you're having a hard time coming up with a good meal plan or grocery list, here are some dinner ideas for families that cost less than $10 a meal: 

Buy Generic and Buy in Bulk

Buy generic whenever you can because generic products are almost always less expensive and have the exact same ingredients. With bulk purchases, only buy things that won’t spoil or that you know you can finish before they go bad. Wasting more food isn’t going to help your pocketbook.  

Decrease your serving sizes

To do this, one easy trick is to use smaller plates. Not only will decreasing your portions save you money, it’s also healthier.  

Use a slow cooker

Slow cooked meals generally make a lot of food using less expensive ingredients. In a slow cooker you can use tougher, cheaper meats and still have it come out tender and delicious.  

Replace expensive foods with less expensive options

Meat is expensive. instead, you can save a lot of money if you make meals with lentils, beans, eggs, or quinoa. Additionally, replace fresh fruits and vegetables with frozen ones. You can find rice and other grains  for cheap and they can supplement many meals to make them more filling. For more information, Here’s a great resource for other tips on saving money on your food budget: 

There are your seven best suggestions to eating within your budget. It doesn’t take a lot of work but it will take some time, so make sure you take a moment to sit down and save yourself as much money as you can. And as you go through this process, remember that eating out from time to time can be something useful and needed. As long as eating out is part of your plan and you budget for it appropriately, then you don’t need to worry about splurging every now and then. 

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