Healthful Tips on Planning Hearty Family Meals on a Budget

One of the biggest challenges for parents is preparing and serving healthy meals for the entire family. Also, for many, spending money on healthy meals can also mean an expensive food bill every month. Fortunately, you don't necessarily have to spend thousands on your food budget. After all, it won't be categorized as a variable or flexible expense for nothing.

Whether you love dining out at times or already cooking at home every single day, there are still tons of ways to cut the extra fat from your monthly food budget. Here are our favorite tricks on how you can save money on food expenses.

Cooking in large portions is one of the best ways to save money and time, especially if you got a big family too. Experienced meal planners recommend cooking large meals from affordable ingredients and just be creative in using your leftovers.

For instance, you can mix your lunch leftover pork adobo and steamed rice, and serve it as a tastier meal for dinner by adding sweet bagoong and scramble egg. Or, you can use your leftover roast pork by adding vegetables like carrots and mushrooms. Leftovers are typically ideal for stir-fries, salads, or stews, particularly if you're on a budget.

Before you do this, make sure your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry are all organized. In your pantry, categorize food items properly, from canned goods, rice and pasta, snacks, condiments, and sauces. Throw out any expired items, and then you can start with the inventory.

Planning your family meals around what you have can help you avoid duplicate purchases and reduce the grocery bill. Keep in mind that even the small ingredients like spices and sauces can add up every month so be sure to use the ones in your pantry first to save money.

Not all, but there are foods that are actually more affordable. For example, a serving of whole grains such as oats and brown rice is way cheaper compared to most cereals in processed form. Want to save more? Buy blocks of cheese instead of shredded ones. It's also much cheaper to get canned beans than refried. Shop around your local supermarkets or grocery stores.

As for their health benefits, whole foods such as vegetables and fruits are packed with phytochemicals, which can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also contain tons of nutrients too! Serve a bowl of porridge with bananas instead of a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal, or buy wholegrain bread instead of white bread.

Meals made from meat are definitely hard to resist. But unfortunately, they are pretty expensive. Instead of buying meat all the time, try using other protein sources such as canned fish, eggs, legumes, and hemp seeds, for at least just a day or two. Such proteins are typically easy to prepare and inexpensive, but still nutritious.

You can also opt for other plant-based proteins. There are vegetarian foods out there that are heart-healthy and high in protein as well. Some examples are soya beans, nuts, quinoa, and Quorn. Many non-meat protein sources are affordable and even have a long shelf life, which is ideal if you want to save money.

It's an actual fact, that going grocery shopping with your partner and kids can make it hard for you to stick to your budget. There are the kids adding items on your cart without you noticing or asking for a snack that's beyond the budget. Going to the supermarket alone can help you stay focused on what's only on your list. To avoid impulse buys or be tempted with food items on sale, shopping on a full stomach would be smart. At least have a snack before going.

Having a master list of your family's favorite meals would make your weekly meal planning easier and faster. Ask your spouse and children to list their favorite meals, and highlight ones that are easy to prepare and don't need too many ingredients. You can also organize the meals by category, include vegetarian food, fish, chicken, beef, soups, and side dishes. Refer to the list whenever you're doing your weekly meal plan.

Eating healthily even on a thrifty plan or limited budget isn't entirely possible. In fact, reducing your spending on food costs can make you smarter when it comes to preparing the healthiest options for your family. All you need to do now is practice these budgeting tricks and pair them with some creativity.

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