How to Make Quick and Healthy Meals on a Shoestring Budget
Finances are getting tighter and tighter for today’s families. Seems we have to do more with less. Trying to balance family needs and demands and what cash you have available is a constant struggle for many families.
Once you’ve eliminated your rent/mortgage payment and any other pre-authorized monthly expenses, there usually isn’t much left over, and the only thing that we can really control is the grocery and gas budget. The grocery bill in particular is one area of your budget where you can have control.
One of the easiest ways to whittle down your list is to plan a menu. Leading budget gurus say to plan a menu and then plan your budget around that menu. I tend to do it the other way around. I have a certain amount of money I can spend, what can I get that will keep my family fed with that little bit of money and plan my food choices accordingly.
Below are a few basic menu ideas that don’t cost a whole lot based on original food item prices and price per person, and assuming there are no gluten/casein or other allergies or sensitivities associated with these foods.
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – One small can feeds two people (at least in my house). So judge your cans accordingly. Tomato soup is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as being good sources of Vitamin A, iron, potassium and other minerals, and vitamin C. Find a low-sodium brand you get extra dietary brownie points. It’s also a great comfort food option.
Eggs – Eggs are one of the cheapest and simplest foods available. They are very high in protein, and good sources of iron and Vitamins B2 and B12. Both these vitamins are needed for your body to produce blood cells and strong bones. Proteins have the added advantage of balancing blood sugar and keeping you feeling full.
Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat – Oatmeal has the advantage of being extremely cheap and capable of feeding several mouths for a relatively small amount on a per person fed basis. Cream of wheat (I make mine with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice – gingerbread flavor – or cocoa and chocolate chips – or cinnamon and raisins) has the added advantage of providing 30% of your recommended daily intake of iron.
Pasta – If you make your own, it’s probably cheaper. But even a 32-oz or 2-lb (900 g) package of spaghetti for about $3.50 can feed a family of four, twice. Add canned spaghetti sauce at about $1.50 a can and you can feed your family for $5 – that’s $1.25 per person.
Darlene Oakley is a freelance writer for Empowher.com.
Cook on a Shoestring. Cook on a Shoestring.com. Web. July 10, 2012.
Budget Meal Planning Guide. AllYou.com. Web. July 10, 2012.
Low-Cost Recipes from a Real Mom. Family.go.com. Web. July 10, 2012.
Eating Healthy on a Skinny Budget. Summerill, Lynette.
Buying organic, local food doesn’t have to break the budget. Smith, Maria.
Healthy and Cheap Food for you and your Family. Boyle, Aimee.