It’s never easy coming up with ideas for cheap family meals – add to that the fact that you want them to be filling, nutritious and healthy, but you’d also like that these meals will support their training and you want your kids to enjoy eating them – all of a sudden meal planning is like the Countdown Conundrum!
In this post, I’d like to share five tips that can help if you are trying to feed a family on a budget.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Anybody who follows my stuff knows that I always advise having an adequate daily intake of protein. An objection that often comes up here is that meat is too expensive. Yes, if you are going to the butchers and buying fillet steaks for the week it won’t take long for the bill to shoot up. But there are alternatives, you just need to find them.
Cheaper cuts of beef are: mince, chuck, blade or brisket. Chicken thighs would be cheaper than breasts. Lamb shoulder, neck or shank can work out less expensive than the leg. If you are struggling to know which cuts are cheaper simply ask your butcher. They will tell you which are the cheaper cuts and may even help you in preparing them.
Avoid wasting food
This is self-explanatory – if you are trying to save money and find yourself throwing food out regularly then something needs to change. When I talk to people about this the most regularly thrown out food is fruit and veg. So what could you do to avoid this waste?
Buy what you need – how many portions of fruit does your family eat each day? Work that out and buy to match that number. If you buy a pack of 6 bananas but you only need 4 then use the other two in a recipe.
Prepare the fruit or veg as soon as you get home from the shop. How many times have you bought a pineapple as it looks lovely but then never had the time to prepare it? A week later you are throwing it out as it is mouldy!
Use frozen fruit and vegetables
The above tip leads nicely into this one. To avoid wasting food you could also prepare and freeze it. Chopped fruit and veg frozen into individual bags are ideal for smoothies in the morning.
Or you could just buy frozen fruit & veg. They are usually frozen as soon as they are picked so they haven’t lost any of their nutrients in the ‘travelling’ to the shop. I do think it is personal taste as there are some veg that I just don’t like frozen but there are plenty that I always have in the freezer.
Frozen berries, in particular, are very handy as the fresh ones often look bad if they are a day or two in the fridge and in this house the kids won’t use them if they don’t look good!
Buy in bulk – cook in bulk
This is one of my favourite tips and one that I wish I had used more when the kids were small. I bought what I needed and cooked fresh each day… not anymore!
It is rare now for me to just cook enough for one dinner. Yesterday, for example, we were having chicken stir-fry. The bigger pack of chicken worked out cheaper, I cooked it all and then just used what we needed for dinner and had chicken salad wraps for tea.
Many meals and foods are perfect when kept in the fridge and reheated. If the kids complain about the same dinner two days in a row – they are welcome to cook for themselves!
Use tinned beans or legumes
I never ate beans or lentils when I was younger but I now realise their value. They are a source of protein, carbohydrate and fibre. They are cheap and they are great to bulk out a meal. I now rarely make a soup without adding in some lentils and always throw a tin of beans into any mince dish.
People often struggle when trying to feed a family on a budget and there are many ways you can make savings. Here I have picked a few but I hope that it gives you some ‘food for thought’. You can feed your family very well using these tips to make cheap family meals.
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