Finding meals that are both budget friendly and healthy is a hot topic. Spend any amount of time waiting to load groceries onto the conveyor belt, and you’ll see the various titles emblazoned on magazines in the check stands. It has a been a hot topic for ages. Our mothers, grandmothers and even great-grandmothers likely spent many hours formulating recipes that had both the least adverse effect on our bodies and our wallets.
Thankfully in the technology era, we are just a google search away from finding the one recipe that could easily become a menu staple. Here are a some tried and true favorites that may please your bank account and the mouths you feed.
Of course, the first rule of making cheap healthy meals on a budget is to create a list and stick to it. You can easily overspend by $20-$60 on a single shopping trip if you don’t have a list or stick to it. When you don’t have a list, you are left guessing what exactly was it that you needed in the first place. Forgetting the list means you will likely forget at least one item, thus having to make a second trip to the store. That, in turn, leaves the door open for buying more than what you were missing in the first place. It also means you are using twice the amount of gas to drive to the store and back. So a list is a must, paper lists at that. The best suggestion is to write out your intended meal plan in the margin. That will help you keep the master plan in sight, additionally cutting down overspending.
If your store has bulk food, you should compare prices on bulk food vs. pre-packaged items. Why should you do this? Most of the time bulk foods are cheaper per ounce or unit than their pre-pack counterparts. For example, you may love powder peanut butter. Your favorite grocery store has a 24-ounce jar of powder peanut butter at $9.98 each. They carry the same exact brand in the bulk section for 50 percent less per ounce.
On the other hand, occasionally it is cheaper to go with the boxed food. Perhaps you want to buy one pound elbow macaroni. Your local store may have the bag on the shelf for $0.75, yet the bulk macaroni may be $0.79 per pound. Though $0.04 isn’t much, it does all add up. Sure, this will take a little work up front, and maybe even repeatedly until it is committed to memory. Eventually, though, the work you put into it will leave money in your pocketbook. Additionally, why buy the one pound bag of pasta if the recipe called for 8oz? Buying what you need is another way to save a few coins. Spices often are much cheaper bulk than by the bottle. You can buy in smaller quantities as well, leaving less room to have to toss them out if they spoil.
Beef stroganoff is a typical household favorite for the colder months. It is just plain old comfort food. Budget Bytes has a great one pot stroganoff recipe. You’ll appreciate that the recipe has a price breakdown with each ingredient. Naturally, prices vary from one area to another. That added info helps you set an expectation on what to expect when you get to the register. Beef Stroganoff is a recipe that you can utilize the bulk section. Egg noodles typically come in 12-ounce packages, but the recipe calls for 8 ounces. Also, take the extra minute to chop your mushrooms for this recipe. Pre-sliced mushrooms tend to cost more per ounce.
Many people love cilantro. Yes, it is one of the flavors that you either love or hate. It is unfortunate that you have to buy a large bunch just to put a small amount in your meal, only to toss a majority of the bunch in the trash if you do not use it all. If your recipe calls for fresh herbs mostly for flavor and less for garnishment, try making herbal ice cubes. That way you’re not tossing out the unused amounts and having to buy more when your next recipe calls for a bunch. You can also try to add additional menu items when the recipe calls for the same fresh herbs to reduce wasting them.
For instance, the grilled honey lime chicken recipe from The Recipe Critic will make your mouth water just reading it. While it takes more cilantro than most other recipes, it certainly does not use the whole bunch. However, if you were to add this slow cooker tamale pie recipe, it leaves enough fresh cilantro for the legit cilantro lovers in your household to garnish their plates. Additionally, there is enough food left from both meals that lunch for the next day is taken care of for both your significant other and yourself.
If you have lots of leftover basil, whipping up some pesto to freeze is always a bonus. Toss it in with some pasta and tomatoes, and you have a quick, tasty meal ready in the amount of time it takes to boil the noodles. Spread some pesto on a piece of Naan bread with some mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and toss it in the toaster oven for 5 minutes. Et voila, you have another delicious lunch. Both of these are an easy late-summer favorite. That is usually when your garden is bountiful with the tasty red tomato fruit.
There is no shortage of ideas out there on the world wide web. The more recipes you experiment with, the more knowledge you have to play with and create some quick go to’s. Exploring the possibilities is just as fun as making the food. Try these recipes. Hopefully, they will make your family’s list of staple foods. Just don’t forget your grocery list when you head to the store.