Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Budgeting 101: Cooking for Less

Want to read about the rest of the Budgeting 101 Series? Find it: HERE.

Budgeting 101: Class 3
Want to Cook For LESS? Grocery bills can add up very quickly and the way we cook along with convenience foods can really break a budget. So how do you cook for less?

I wish I was an expert, but I'm not...most of my knowledge comes from learning the hard way and asking around.  After plenty of research and trying things out I have a few basic rules that DRAMATICALLY CUT MY GROCERY BILLS.

Now, this doesn't mean you can cook a fun fancy (expensive) meal or make nice food to entertain, but by sticking to these rules you wont break the budget on those special occasions.

Rules for Cooking For Less:
1. Make From Scratch
2. Buy Store Brand
3. Price Match
4. Meal Plan
5. Buy Bulk
6. Freeze your extras
7. Substitute dried for Fresh Herbs, Less expensive cheeses, etc.

**Be Educated and Aware...sometimes items in bulk don't save money, so double check your prices...and once in a while I can find something on sale cheaper than I can make it...but overall these Rules tend to be true.

Is understanding what foods are less expensive and what foods are filling.

Food that cost less & are Filling:
- Potatoes
- Beans
- Rice
- Noodles
- Soups

Inexpensive Recipes:
Meat gets expensive quickly.  So Recipes without meat are often much less expensive. 
And they can still be filling and satisfying. Try and rotate in MEATLESS meals 
to cut down on your monthly food costs.

Beans & Rice
Bean Tortilla Soup
Taco Soup (use can of chile to substitute for the ground beef)
Spaghetti (meatless)
Easy Ziti Pasta
Bean Burritos
Bean & Rice Enchiladas
3 Bean Chile
Breakfast for Dinner
Potato Soup
Italian Zuccini Skillet

**UPDATED: Recipes can be found: HERE

Less Expensive Recipes with Meat:
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
Chicken Penne
Hawaiian Hay Stacks
Stir Fry
Chicken & Potatoes
Chicken & Herb Potatoes
Enchilada Casserole
7 Layer Casserole
Wild Rice, Chicken & Veggies
Creamy Chicken & Rice Casserole
Enchiladas- Chicken & Rice
Red beans Kielbasa & Rice
Sausage Spinach Pasta Toss

**UPDATED: Recipes can be found: HERE

Buying/Eating out for lunch is very expensive.
So I pack my husband a lunch each day. The night before after we have finished dinner, I serve him up left overs for his lunch the next day.  It cuts on my time preparing a lunch and saves us lots of money.

For kids and Sack Lunches we keep it simple. 
A sandwich, a hot dog, burrito, wrap, etc.  The treats and snack foods can get costly, so we buy large bags not individual, store brand and sale items. Cookies and treats are often homemade and stored in the freezer, taking one out for lunch each day. Cut up fruit and veggies, instead of the prepackaged kind and reusable water bottle also cut on costs.

Cereal, Poptarts, Frozen Breakfasts, etc are usually more expensive food items. When they are on killer deals, stock up, but to save money and for a healthier alternative here are a list of great Inexpensive Breakfast Ideas.
AND ALL OF THESE IDEAS CAN BE HOMEMADE...with increases the health value and decreases the cost!

        Oatmeal- (not individual packaged)
         My kids eat this every morning.  But if you love the store bought flavored kind Here and Here
         are great ideas to make your own individual packages in a variety of flavors.

         Homemade is obviously the best and you can make cinnamon bread, or all kinds of tasty
         varieties. Or just try jazzing up regular bread with a little Peanut Butter, Cinnamon &
         Sugar, Jam, Nutella, Etc.  Be creative.

         Winco has great prices on the bulk granola, which we regularly buy.  But homemade granola
          is always better here are some good recipes:
                  Golden Granola Cranberry Almond Granola  Your Own Granola

         Make the plain original, or try a new recipe and flavor. Make ahead and freeze, for a fast

         Make ahead and freeze, for a fast breakfast.

          Make ahead and freeze. Pop in the toaster for a fast breakfast.

Now I am not perfect at all of these and we do have times I need something for convenience...or I love to entertain and I spend extra to do so...but living by these on a regular basis makes a world of difference in my budget.

DO NOTE: I am primarily a stay at home mom.  This means I have extra time than those that work all day, so somethings aren't reasonable for everyone.  Look for realistic areas you can make changes and money saving ideas that fit your family's needs/lifestyle.

In the next few posts I will add the recipes mentioned above and more for Meal Planning.

 Keep Checking back for more Budgeting 101 posts with more tips and ideas to save money!
Click: HERE for the rest of the Budgeting 101 Series. 
(It will be continually updated)

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