Have you ever felt like your grocery shopping has started to take over your budget? It seems that no matter how hard you try, there’s not enough cash available at the end of the list? We all know as BJ’s shoppers you will be doing a happy dance if you spend less then $100. I mean just about every item is an average of $8.
Maybe you’re catching all the listed items on sale using your coupons but still wondering if you can spend less? It doesn’t have to be all about couponing and getting a deal, ok you know I love both of those, but it doesn’t have to be your number one priority.
You can feed your family for less on healthier dishes if you just think simple.
Simple Affordable meals. I am not sure when it started that we felt conscious about serving eggs for dinner, or when we felt our dinner wasn’t good enough because we didn’t have three sides.
Today you can start creating a simple dinner for less.
Create Simple Dinners.
I’ll be honest, before I had kids I was making extravagant dinners for me and my husband. I would go through my cookbooks and pick out all the new recipes, because I didn’t want to make the same meal twice in one week. I laugh at that now. Today, if I cook a whole chicken it’s guaranteed that we are going to be eating a lot of chicken dinners that week! There are so many ways you can stretch that chicken.
Oh the ways of motherhood and frugalness – or maybe a combination of both!
Pre-kids, I would head to the store and buy everything that I needed for each recipe. If it called for asparagus, I would buy it no matter the season. I didn’t consider buying things in season, when they were more likely to be on sale. It is amazing to me that I was making 3 lb.s of meat and two sides for only 2 people.
Then we started having kids and exhaustion met me face to face. Gone were the days of multiple sides. Today, one side will do just fine.
Then I started realizing that I could make a full meal and not even need a side for every dinner.
For example: Have you tried steaming some fresh broccoli and adding salt and butter? Simply delicious and young kids love it! Or you can make a dish that has all your veggies and proteins in one.
Here are 5 Quick tips I have discovered that help our family create more simple dinners when on a Tight Grocery Budget
Make a Meal Menu for the Entire Week
I like to start on Sunday night. Alone. When I can go through my pantry, skim through my cookbooks, and make my meal plan based on available ingredients in my pantry. Then I evaluate what I need to get from the store. It’s amazing the money you can save when you check your pantry ahead of time and make a plan.
- Use a Meal Planning App Here
- Learn How to Create a Grocery List Here
- Score a Cute Magnetic Dry Erase Menu Board for Half Off on Amazon Here
Make a Main Meal that Includes all your Veggies
For example, Tacos are pretty filling and offer a variety of protein and veggies. Or Eggplant Parmesan offers veggies, protein, and carbs. Why would you need a side with it? Plus, these easy meals are great when you are short on time.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Use your crockpot
- Casseroles are a budget friendly dish
Have all your Meat Thawed Ahead of Time
Be sure to pull your meat out of the freezer the night before. Even if you missed making your menu plan for the week, it’s easier to look up a recipe using whatever protein you have that is thawed and ready to go. ( Quick tip: Don’t thaw the meat in the microwave unless you want your family to refuse that dinner next time. ? )
- Buy your meat in bulk at BJ’s.
- If you are buying ground beef consider cooking it all up the same day
- Try a Freezer Meal Plan
Have Frozen Veggies on Hand
Frozen veggies make a great side. Either serve them “as is,” with a sprinkling of salt, or added to a casserole. Keep an eye out when visiting your grocery store for frozen veggies on sale – in our area they often go on sale for $1.00. Add in a coupon, and you can get them even cheaper.
- Buy BJs Brand Frozen Veggies for the best bang for your buck
Use items in Your Pantry First
If you only have ground beef in your freezer and are wanting pork instead, wait for the week that pork goes on sale. Then buy extra as your budget allows. In the meantime, use the ground beef this week, paired with other complementary items from your pantry. By utilizing what you already have, you can avoid over-buying at the store.
- Check out my list of must have pantry items
What suggestions do you have for creating simple dinners? Jump into the conversation and share your thoughts in the comment section below.