1 | Skip the chips! And other nutrient-void snacks. I know for some, 2 bags for $5 sounds like a great deal, but there are two very important reasons why it’s not. First, that equates to $5 PER POUND. People say fruit and veggies are expensive, but I’ve never seen any produce that cost $5 per pound other than certain types of fresh berries. Second, it’s not a filling snack. There’s a reason one of the chip company slogans is ‘Bet you can’t eat just one’! They try to make it sound like a good thing…but it actually means this is a snack that makes you lose all self control while eating it to the point that $5 worth of chips will last 2 people maybe a couple of days!
For that same $5, you could have these crunchy, filling, satisfying snacks – enough for 2 people for FIVE days (and cut empty calories!) by buying:
2.5 lbs. of apples (about 10 small apples) AND a 12-pack of string cheese
1 lb. jar of natural peanut butter AND 2 bunches of celery
2 lbs. of carrots and ingredients for homemade hummus (get my recipe!)
2 | Plan ahead One day a week, make a large batch of brown rice or whole wheat pasta and store it in a sealed container in your fridge (more info about my complete simple batch cooking system here). Use this to plan your meals for the week.
For example, cooked rice can be used alone as a side dish for grilled chicken or fish one night, chicken broccoli casserole the next, Spanish rice or Southwest rice bowls another night, with stirfry yet another.
Brown rice is filling, nutritious, and easily varied so dinners don’t get boring. Also, having this already cooked rice on hand will save cooking time and help you avoid skipping your meal plan on hectic nights.
3 | Stock up on Staples I recently found brown rice on sale at my local grocery store, 2-lb. bags for $2. Since this keeps easily in my pantry for a long period of time, I bought 5 bags. This $10 worth of rice will be used to make more than 25 meals for my family of 4 (over 100 servings total). That’s 10 cents per serving!
Watch for sales on items like oats, low-sodium broth, canned beans, honey, whole wheat pasta, flax seeds, etc.
Nuts and whole wheat breads & pitas can be stored in the freezer to make them last longer, so stock up when you see these on sale as well.
4 | Go meatless once a week This idea always gets me a dirty look from my husband, so I tend to save this mostly for the nights he’s not home for dinner! However, I know many families who have made this part of their routine with no complaints!
Some excellent low-cost, high-protein alternatives include beans (black, navy, kidney, garbanzo (chickpeas), pinto, etc.), baked potatoes with cheddar cheese, eggs, and canned/pouch tuna.
5 | Use your freezer! Stock up on frozen veggies and fruits. Corn, green beans, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower are generally less expensive when bought frozen. Also, bulk bags of frozen peaches, berries, or tropical fruit are usually most economical when purchased frozen.
There are exceptions, though, so when you can, do a little price comparing! Sometimes you can get better deals on in-season fresh fruits like mangoes, peaches, or berries and veggies like green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower. When that happens, take advantage of the pricing and prep/freeze the extras for use later. I like to do this with fruits to blend into smoothies or thaw and stir into plain yogurt. I also buy extra bananas when they are on sale, slice or puree, and then freeze. Learn more about what to do with frozen banana puree here. Zucchini and butternut squash can also be used this way. Click the links for recipes you can make using these types of frozen squash! My very favorite food to puree and freeze is avocado. When I can find these for a good price, I like to buy 5-6 at a time and freeze the puree to use in guacamole, as a topping on my Southwest rice bowl or spread on a turkey wrap. Avocado puree also makes a great first food for baby! Get more avocado puree serving ideas here.
Other veggies, like green beans, peas, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, and broccoli can be diced or chopped and frozen for use later in soups, stews, casseroles, and side dishes.
6 | Limit convenience foods Most premade/prepackaged items not only cost more, they’re usually made with dangerous ingredients like chemical preservatives and additives. They are also generally higher in unhealthy fats, sodium, high-fructose corn syrup, and sugar.
Soups, waffles, pancakes, French toast, burritos, muffins, cookies, quick breads, pasta sauce, flavored yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken tenders … just about anything you can find premade on the shelves and in the freezer section of the grocery store can easily be made at home, divided into portions, and thawed or reheated ‘conveniently’ and quickly at any time! ****
Find out how easy it is to save time and money with my simple Batch Prep system! Click the image for details!
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