In today’s economy it can be hard to balance a budget and a well-cooked meal. Whether you have a family to feed, are a student trying to get by between classes and a part-time job, or a graduate living with six other people and waiting for a turn of good luck, it can be a struggle to keep yourself balanced and fed.
Try to plan your meals ahead of time –once a week, get together with your roommates or set aside some time to yourself where you can make a list of everything you’re planning to eat during the week. Remember you’re not bound to your decisions but if you match up your meal planning to your grocery shopping it will save you time and money by making sure you only purchased what you need instead of making purchases out of impulse. Make sure that you only buy the things that you are sure you will use and always remember to check your cupboards before you go shopping to save yourself from buying something you already have.
Remember vegetables are your friends. Veggies are a lot cheaper than meat –a lot cheaper –meaning it might be time to give up conventional proteins for a bit in place of plant-based ones. Shopping organic or for specialty veggies can be a bit of a challenge and can run up the bill so don’t worry too much about the organic section of the supermarket. Using ingredients like beans or chickpeas in your cooking is a great way to add protein to help keep you fuller for longer. Buying produce that’s locally grown and in season is typically cheaper and they often retain more nutrients than their transported or frozen counterparts.
If you are going to buy meat, there are plenty of cuts that are cheaper which are great for stews, chilli, and casseroles, which are great foods for leftovers. Another way you can help save yourself some money while you’re cooking is by making extra and saving some for later meals. If you find recipes that freeze well, you can separate them into meal-sized portions and keep them for longer periods of time. Leftovers make for excellent lunches or can stand in for dinner over a few nights, saving you from the hassle of making extra meals as well as some money.
Buy whole foods to save a little cash –blocks of cheese over shredded, rice, oats, etc. The less processing and packaging that goes into your groceries, the less money you have to spend on them. Furthermore, whole foods usually contain more per package and therefore you can get more servings from them. Similarly, buy in bulk when you can. Grains, flour, lentils, and other such products will all keep for a very long time so if you buy a great deal of them at once, you won’t need to restock in quite a while.