If you have a family, no doubt eating healthy is one of your big concerns. However, with the falling economy, your grocery budget is probably getting tighter and tighter. So, the challenge is to come up with frugal and healthy family dinner recipes that you can feed the entire family. Many people seem to have the idea that eating healthy is more expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can easily feed a family of four for a couple dollars per plate – even cheaper than you could feed the family at McDonalds.
Feeding your family on a budget is really not as hard as it may seem, especially if you are willing to do a bit of cooking. You don’t have to be a great chef to be able to turn out great meals everyone will love without breaking the bank. While you can’t expect to have filet mignon each night on a budget, healthy and tasty meals are possible if you are willing to take the time.
Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget
In order to be able to create healthy family dishes that don’t cost a lot, you are going to have to become a frugal grocery shopper. Eating on a budget all starts out with the way that you shop. So, here are some great tips that will help you grocery shop on a budget.
Tip #1 – Look for the Deals – The first thing you need to do when trying to save money on your grocery shopping is to look for deals. You want to get the best deals possible on the items that you buy, and there are a couple ways that you can accomplish this. Saving coupons, cutting them from papers or printing them from online, can help you save big time. Also, taking the time to research current fliers from grocery stores can help you find the best deals as well.
Tip #2 – Plan Menus – Plan your menus ahead of time. Waiting until the last minute to figure out what to make for dinner is going to hurt your grocery budget. You’ll end up spending more money when you don’t plan. So, sit down and plan out your menus so you know exactly what you need for each meal.
Tip #3 – Make a List – Once you have made out your menu for the week, then you are ready to make a list. Write down what you need for each meal. Going to the store without a list can get expensive. Those who don’t have a list tend to spend more money in the store. So, make sure you make out a list so you know what you need and don’t spend a lot of money on things you really don’t need to purchase.
Tip #4 – Go with Label Free Foods – If you’re trying to shop on a budget, trying going with label free foods. Foods that have fancy boxes and labels probably aren’t so great for you and you’ll pay more, just because of the fancy label. Purchasing fresh foods, such as lettuce, apples, and other fresh items is cheaper and will save you money.
Tip #5 – Avoid Foods with "Special" Health Claims – It’s easy to be drawn into purchasing foods that have "special" health claims. Perhaps they are supposed to help you lose weight, cure a health problem, or they cut out trans fats. Usually this is just a marketing tactic to make you purchase the product and the prices on these products are usually quite steep. Real healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and veggies, don’t need to have special health claims on their labels – you already know that they are good for you.
Great Frugal Recipes to Try
Now that you understand a bit more about grocery shopping on a budget, you’re probably wondering if there are some great recipes you can try to feed your family a healthy meal that won’t cost a lot of money. So, the following are some simple and healthy recipes that are cost effective so you can easily feed your family great tasting food, even on a tight budget.
Recipe #1 – Simple Spaghetti Dinner
Approximate Total Cost: About $10
# of Servings: 8 +
1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium green pepper
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp sage
1 can diced Italian tomatoes
2 – 24oz cans tomato sauce
1 lb spaghetti noodles
Brown the ground beef in a skillet then drain well. Meanwhile, finely chop peppers, onion, and garlic. Begin to sauté peppers, onion, and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add can of diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add ground beef, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and sage. Mix together well. Simmer on low heat for about an hour. Bring a pot of water to a boil. When boiling, add spaghetti noodles. Cook until tender and then drain. Serve sauce of noodles.
Consider adding a tossed salad for a well rounded meal.
Leftovers: With the leftovers you have from the spaghetti, you’ll probably have enough left to bake with some shredded cheese for a whole new meal during the week, making it even more cost effective.
Recipe #2 – Home Made Sloppy Joes and Home Fries
Approximate Total Cost: $6-8 (depending on whether you already have the condiments)
# of Servings: 10+ sandwiches
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion
1 small pepper
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup mustard
¼ cup barbeque sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp chili powder
1-2 packs of hamburger buns
4 large potatoes
Seasoning of choice
Brown ground beef, pepper, and onion. Drain off any grease. Place back in pan. Add ketchup, mustard, barbeque, brown sugar, and chili powder. Stir together. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
For the potatoes, preheat oven to 425. Slice potatoes into wedges and put on a cookie sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray for crispness. Sprinkle with seasoning, such as Mrs. Dash or Garlic and Herb seasoning. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are crispy.
Any leftovers of sloppy joes can be made into sandwiches and used for lunches.
With proper planning, family dinners can taste great without having to cost a lot.
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