Thursday, August 15, 2013

Budget Meals

I recently taught a lesson for our relief society on budget meals.  I have copied and pasted my hand-out below.  I hope the you find it helpful!

Budget Meals
“Every herb . .  . And fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.” –D&C 89:11

Budget Friendly Recipes That I Use Regularly and Love
·         Red Lentil Soup -- Flavorful, easy, healthy, and inexpensive. About $1/serving. 
·         Crock-Pot Yogurt – Inexpensive, easy, healthy breakfast or snack.  According to my cost analysis, it is two to three times more expensive to buy yogurt in the quart-size tubs.  I make one gallon of yogurt every two weeks.  For flavoring, I like to add 2 Tablespoons of vanilla and 2/3 cup honey or agave. According to my cost analysis, this yogurt is about three times cheaper than buying yogurt in quart size containers at the store.
·         Granola – I use this recipe as a guide, but ratios and ingredients are incredibly flexible with granola.  Don’t be afraid to venture from this and try what works for you.  I love the fact that it is healthy, delicious, and my whole family loves it.  According to my cost analysis, it comes out to .32/serving.
·         Bean and Corn Salad – A quick, healthy go-to meal for days when you only have a half an hour.
·         Easy Olive Oil, Tomato, and Basil Pasta – Simple, delicious, and inexpensive.
·         Nectar of the Gods –Great for when tomatoes and basil are on sale in the summer.
·         Home-made Pizza – Though it takes a bit more time and planning, home-made pizza is a filling, delicious budget –friendly meal that will please the whole family.

Resources That I found Helpful
·         15 Dinners Under $1.50 per serving – Though I haven’t tried any of these yet, they look delicious, economical, and most require minimal preparation time.
·         Rachael Ray’s Budget Meals – Though these have a few “fancier” ingredients, overall they are still relatively inexpensive.  I have tried several of these meal ideas, and found them delicious, though a bit more time consuming.
·         Ten meals on $10 – Great list of meals that are all under $10 to feed a family of 4.
·         Canning and Preserving - Enjoy your harvest year-round by canning and preserving your summer bounty.

Staying within your food budget starts with good planning at home, before hitting the grocery store.  It requires a chunk of time and planning at the beginning of the two weeks, but it has saved me a great deal of stress, money, and time in last-minute trips to the supermarket to pick up needed ingredients.  I have outlined my method here

Home-made is money saved
Cut yourself a break! If you are cooking at home instead of eating out, you are saving a significant amount of money.  Anytime you cook at home instead of eating out or buying pre-made food, you are paying a fraction of the price.  So give yourself some credit and celebrate even your smallest efforts.

Overall, grains, fruits and veggies are the cheapest options.  Not only are they cheap, they are healthy and also what our Heavenly Father has said we should be eating (Doctrine and Covenants 89:16).

Cheaper Meal Planning

Just because you've reduced your food budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor.
Bring out big flavor with a small budget. Use these tips and meal ideas to create a variety of meals on the cheap.

Purposeful Shopping
Do you want to spend less money on food? Then plan ahead. Most shoppers waste money on impulse buys or last-minute trips to the supermarket for missing ingredients. When you're ready to put the skids on wasteful cash flow, try these purpose-driven strategies.
·         Sit down with supermarket sale circulars before heading to stores. Plan out menus
based on specials and in-season produce.
·         Always make out a shopping list. Shop and stick to the list.
·         Clip coupons from newspapers, magazines, or the Internet for products that you buy routinely. Take advantage of double coupons days or in-store specials.
·         Consider stocking up on frequently-used items while they're on sale.
·         Go through cabinets routinely to use up canned and boxed staples.  
·         Buy in bulk when the savings prove good.

Eating Ethnic
One of the simplest ways to cut costs is to dine globally. Make it an adventure for your family to try new cuisines. You'll learn fast what most foreign cooks already know: cooking with lots of vegetables and grains keeps food costs low.
·         Adopt an Asian mindset toward meals. Fill plates with vegetables and starches like rice and noodles. Let expensive meats and seafood, if you use them at all, act as flavorful condiments.
·         Play around with spices. Indian cooks add ingredients like coriander, cumin, and turmeric to build depth in dishes that contain large amounts of vegetables or lentils.
·         Focus on whole grains. Italian cooks stock the cabinet with dry pastas (either regular or whole wheat varieties), and add roasted vegetable sauces, tomato sauce, or a sauce where meat is a minor player.

Meatless Mondays
Meat, poultry, and fish account for the lion's share of most grocery bills. You don't need to give them up altogether, just cut back.
·         Make the usual roast chicken but put out a wide assortment of vegetables, potatoes, and sides. Aim to fill two-thirds of the plate with side dishes and just one-third with meat.
·         Shop for less expensive cuts of meat and use them in stews or soups.
·         Serve casseroles as the main course rather than dishing up meat and potatoes.
·         Stretch meat by adding grains and vegetables to dishes. Add pasta noodles or bulgur to chicken salad. Mix ground beef and beans to fill tacos rather than using meat alone.
·         Serve breakfast for dinner. Omelets, pancakes, and French toast are inexpensive entrees.
·         Try going meatless at one meal each week. Start with simple, well-loved items like
macaroni and cheese. Branch out to ethnic repasts like lentil dals or pasta e fagioli.

Cheaper Meal Planning courtesy of Maureen Callahan from

1 comment:

Kay Hinton said...

Great post, Mel. Lots of good ideas here.