Think preparing delicious and nutritious meals requires a five-star restaurant budget? Get ready to think again. With a little planning, inexpensive, wholesome meals are definitely attainable (and tasty!). Here are some tips from the Washington Post to get you started:
Eat seasonally. Local produce is often cheaper than produce shipped from other places. During the warmer months, look for stone fruit, zucchini, and peppers. Colder months may be less abundant, but there are still seasonal options to be had, like hearty greens, winter squash, and beets. During the off season, turn to frozen veggies.
Get organized. Design meal plans each week and keep a grocery list. Straighten out your fridge and pantry regularly so you never buy anything you already have.
Create a budget. Track your food expenses for a few weeks to see how you’re spending your money. Ask yourself: Are you eating out a lot or depending on prepared foods? Are you wasting produce or leftovers? Once you know where your cash is going, decide what you can do without and set a budget.
Plan for leftovers. Choose meals that use similar ingredients to reduce waste. Rice bowls and burritos are a particularly good way to use up last night’s odds and ends.
Choose organics wisely. Organics can be spendy, so do some research on which produce is most important to buy organic. Then go the non-organic route for the rest of your produce.
Try Meatless Mondays. Swap meat for affordable vegetarian foods, like beans, eggs, lentils, oats, sweet potatoes, or spinach.
Get savvy while shopping. If your local grocery store has an in-store nutritionist, ask them for help with meal planning on a budget. Also, seek out the bulk bins, as they tend to be less expensive and allow you to buy just what you need, which can cut down on waste.
Limit kid food waste. Reduce food waste by asking your kids how hungry they are and serving them accordingly. If they’re still hungry, they can always have seconds.
Use creativity with the pantry. Make meals only out of what’s in the pantry until it’s empty. Buy milk and fresh produce every week, but otherwise plan meals around whatever you already have. You’ll be surprised to see how much you save when you eat what’s been languishing on your shelves.