Feeding a Family on a Budget

Family Enjoying meal,mealtime Together

It can be tricky to feed a family well when you’re on a tight budget. But if you’re looking to save money at the grocery store that can be passed on to the dinner table, you’ve got more to do than clip a few coupons. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save by planning your meals ahead of time.

Meal Planning

Take an hour or so every week to make a menu for each meal of the day and get it approved if necessary by other family members. Then take the meals and break them down to the exact ingredients necessary. Remember to include snacks and treats in your meal plan as well. You might do even better to plan for two weeks at a time if your pantry and refrigerator can handle the amount of groceries.

When you make your plan, try to use the same meal staples multiple times. For example, you might make roast beef on Monday night and send roast beef sandwiches to school and work in lunchboxes the next day. Tuesday night, you can use the rest of the roast beef to make a beef and rice casserole to be served with fresh vegetables. The extra steamed veggies will be great as a snack at work on Wednesday, etcā€¦

Coupon Clipping

Once you have your list, keep an eye on coupons in the paper and look online for additional savings. Clip any coupons for nonfood items as well. These items should be added to the list as you see the need.

The Grocery Store

You should only go to the store on the day when your coupons count the most. This means you should wait for double coupon day or when a new advertisement comes out with special savings. Head to the store during this time to maximize your savings.

When you arrive at the store, steel yourself to avoid splurges. Most of the extra money we spend is on the little things we want, not need. If you’ll feel dejected without a small treat, limit yourself to one and make it small and inexpensive. Then start working through your list.

Go aisle by aisle carefully looking for additional sales on items. Don’t be afraid to buy generic brands if the quality is comparable, and if you know you’ll use it, bulk is the way to go. Of course, if you’ll only use five potatoes, buying the bag of ten is wasteful ā€“ unless you add the other five potatoes to a meal later in the week.

Stick carefully to your list and feel free to make substitutions if you find that roast is on sale and chicken is not. Buy enough meat for your meal plan, but try very hard to avoid waste ā€“ even if it is less per pound, you’ll be paying for pounds you don’t eat.

When you’ve finished collecting the items on the list, head to the register and watch your items scanned carefully. Be sure to have your coupons ready and monitor their use to be sure your money is being spent wisely.

Eat the Food

The worst thing you can do after such careful planning and shopping is to let any of the food go to waste. Stick to your meal plan and make the right dishes every night. If you get bored or simply want to dine out, try to anticipate this desire and build in a few free nights for pizza or take out so that there isn’t a roasting hen going to waste the night you decide to have Chinese takeout instead.

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