How To Save Money On Family Meals

Tips for food budget

It sometimes can feel like everyone else always eats beautiful, gourmet meals while you feed your family things like pasta and takeout food. It might feel like sticking to a budget and keeping your kids happy is an impossible task, but there are a few ways to make sure you are saving money, no matter what family meals look like to you.

Save Money On Things You Are Already Buying

While you can substitute some ingredients and meals for less expensive ones, there are likely some things you have already purchased that you are not looking to give up. You might have a weekly or monthly date night where you and your significant other go out for a meal without the kids, and you likely still need to buy staples, like flour, vegetables, and meat.

You can save money on these things by getting a credit card with rewards. Many credit cards offer rewards in categories like grocery stores or restaurants, often in the form of cashback. However, if you do not have a long credit history or are credit-invisible, getting a credit card or doing anything else that requires a credit history can be difficult.

Once you have established credit, you must maintain or improve your score. If you do not have much credit, this is a great time to begin building it.

Understand The Options

Many people trying to save money on groceries and food generally think of their dining options as making something from scratch at home or going out somewhere. However, there are also plenty of other options. You can order meal kits, where someone else does the planning and gathering of ingredients, but you do the actual cooking.

Eating out doesn’t have to be a fine dining experience. It can also be fast food. The quality and cost of each family meal depend on what you choose.

Reduce How Much Meat You Have

A more vegetarian diet can save you money and is also an environmentally friendly choice. You don’t have to have an entirely plant-based lifestyle, but eliminating meat from a few meals a week can save you money. Take some time to figure out what meals are the easiest to cook, which still fills everyone up. They should also be tasty enough that you want to make them repeatedly.

Consider incorporating more lentils, beans, vegetarian tortillas, and meatless chili. Many of these things can be made ahead of time and frozen for nights when you need a simple meal. Investing in some vegetarian cookbooks will give you more ideas when you don’t know what to make.

Create A Weekly Meal Plan

Create a plan of the meals you plan on eating for the week, including any times you plan to go out to eat or order food. There is nothing wrong with going out to eat or ordering premade food every now and then if you are smart about it. The trick is to figure out how many times you can afford to go out to eat each month. If you have a weekly date night, you might not want to get takeout before then to avoid messing up your budget.

Planning these things ahead of time can remove the fatigue that comes when you must think of what to eat each day.

Spend Less On Breakfast

Breakfast foods tend to be expensive, especially if you are usually in a hurry in the mornings and get convenient foods you can grab ahead of time. Pastries, cereals, yogurts, and other foods can add up quickly; this is a great area to reduce your spending. You can save this money or put it toward healthier dinners.

You can still have simple, healthy breakfasts, but the key is to make more things yourself ahead of time. You could make a large egg casserole and reheat portions throughout the week. You can also make a bowl of instant oatmeal and put maple syrup on top instead of purchasing premade maple-flavored breakfast foods.

Make Your Meals More Simple

Taking advantage of sales and using coupons can save you money, but eating simpler food items will save you far more money than simply purchasing generic brands. Those on small budgets have long consumed simple food that still gives basic nutrition. A homecooked meal is not always cheaper, especially if it requires a specialized ingredient or does not go as far as you would like.

A simple meal can be made more interesting by serving it with an interesting salad, condiment, or loaf of bread, and you can occasionally serve a dessert at the end of the meal.

Reduce Food Waste

Making simple meals or shopping locally will not save you as much money as you think unless you also work on reducing food waste. Buying cheap food is still expensive if you never end up eating that food. It is very common for households to waste food simply because they buy too much and throw away the rest before they can eat it. Instead, consider purchasing and cooking only what you need to meet your needs.

Check your fridge for leftovers a few times a week, and if you have enough, save a meal on your meal plan for later and have leftovers that night.

Know How Much Home Cooked Meals Really Cost

A homecooked meal can cost significantly less in ingredients compared to buying food out. However, you also must factor in the time you spend on it because you still need to prepare meals, buy ingredients, and cook them. Time is money, which could be spent earning money in your main job or doing a side hustle.

While there is no perfect answer, be aware of how much time you spend on your meals and try to find a balance that works for you and your family.

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