Many people feel that they have a handle on their weekly schedule... if only making dinner wasn't part of things. Getting a nice meal (that is hopefully healthy) on the table can feel really hard when everyone has a million things on their plate (no pun intended) and there doesn't feel like there's enough time.
It's even more difficult to stick to a budget and not feel like you're racking up a huge grocery bill every time you head to your local supermarket. But it's totally possible to make meals that your family will like and also make sure that you're not spending more money than you want to be.
Read on to find out 10 tips to cook for a family on a budget.
10 Freeze Proteins
Buying a ton of different proteins at once and then putting them in the freezer can be a great way to save money and cook for a family on a budget. From ground beef to ground turkey, chicken thighs to salmon to shrimp, there are so many options.
This allows you to buy what is cheaper at the grocery store and then use it whenever you want. You can do this type of shopping twice a month and then you'll have enough protein to feed your family. This definitely beats staring at the fridge at five p.m. and wondering what to make for dinner.
9 Pick Two Veggies
Not every adult loves every kind of vegetable... and it's definitely fair to say that not every child loves most vegetables. It's a common struggle to get little ones wanting to eat something that is green (or even orange, in the case of bell peppers and, of course, carrots).
When you want to keep an eye on your budget, you can pick two veggies and make them regularly. Hopefully these will be ones that your family likes, and you can find a way to prepare them that will make them happy. Roasting vegetables usually makes them sweet and delicious. You can buy a huge bag of carrots for only a few dollars, and this will help you save some dollars.
8 Shop Sales
Getting a bunch of pesky flyers in the mail isn't that much fun... but sometimes those flyers can actually be super helpful, at least when it comes to letting you know what food is on sale.
Shopping sales can help you cook for a family on a budget. This does take a bit more work and effort since you want to be aware of what is on sale at which store, but once you see the difference in your grocery bill, you'll really enjoy doing this.
7 Shop Online
Shopping online for almost anything can be a whole lot cheaper than actually stepping into a store. The same thing is true when shopping for food.
When you want to cook for a family on a budget, you can also find some websites that offer deals on pantry staples (salad dressing, tomato sauce), snacks (crackers, cookies, etc.) and more. This will help you cut down on your grocery bill since you can do this type of shop once a month and then know that you have enough.
6 Roast Several Chickens At Once
Roast chicken is such a classic, delicious meal, and roasting two chickens at the same time can save you some dollars. You and your family can enjoy roast chicken for dinner two nights in a row.
You can also roast chicken and use the meat for chicken salad sandwiches (or plain chicken sandwiches if that's what your little ones like). This can help you with making your kids' lunches, too, since you'll know that they're getting a good source of protein and it was really easy for you to make.
5 Think Big Batch Meals
Big batch meals like chili, soup, chicken curry, etc. are perfect when you're cooking for your family and sticking to a budget. You can make a ton at one time and have enough for a few meals.
The best part? You can freeze any of these meals. That will be great news when you're staring at a really busy week and you don't know when you're going to have time to get into the kitchen and cook something from scratch.
4 Try Greengrocers And Farmers Markets
A lot of people love shopping at their local greengrocer or farmers market because the fruits and vegetables sold there are in season. And when produce is in season, most of the time it's much cheaper.
If you have a local market, you can try going there a few times a week and see if you can get a whole bunch of asparagus, carrots, peppers, and strawberries for less than $20 total. In fact, you'll probably end up only spending around $10 to $15.
3 Make Some Vegetarian Meals
Even if you and your family aren't vegetarian, making some meatless dinners each week can save some dollars. Just doing this once or twice a week will help you out a lot.
There are so many proteins that you can make, from black beans to chickpeas to lentils, and there are tons of recipes out there that will help you make some really delicious dinners. (And you can always put some melted cheese on whatever you've made, which will definitely make your kids happy.)
2 Rethink Typical Meals
Sure, rice is delicious and so is pasta, and of course you want to cook these carbs for your family. But what about cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles?
If you rethink typical meals and make cauliflower rice as a side dish to any protein, or make spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles as a base for pasta sauce, you're going to save some money. A head of cauliflower is fairly inexpensive and cauliflower rice is delicious and filling. This can be a great way to make something interesting and also stay on track budget-wise. Plus, you'll be serving your family a healthy meal that has tons of nutrients.
1 Don't Shop Every Single Day
While some people are whizzes at meal prep, others find it tough to think that far ahead. If you want to cook for your family on a budget, it's smart to stop shopping for food every single day.
A package of ground beef here and a few blocks of cheddar cheese there will soon add up to a high grocery bill. Shopping once or twice a week will make it super easy to keep your budget in mind. And, as a bonus, you'll have more time to spend with your cute little kids (instead of feeling like all you do is go to the grocery store).