Tips for Cooking on a Budget

in , , by Katie Margaret, June 29, 2014

We all know that going out to eat at a restaurant can be expensive. Eating at home is usually a much more affordable and coast effective way to eat your meals, but cooking at home can still be expensive.

Cooking is definitely a hobby of mine.  I love trying out new recipes or just making up something as I go. Sometimes, I really have to be careful of the recipes that I try, because they can really rack up your grocery bill. Every weekend it is a challenge for me to find meals for the week that will be delicious, while still keeping my grocery bill low. 

Here are a few tips that I have found helpful when it comes to planning meals on a budget. 

* Skip the meat- I'm not a vegetarian, but I will often leave the meat out of my meals. Meat can be expensive. Meat is usually the item that will rack up my grocery bill. When I do plan to use meat in a recipe, I try to use half of what I buy in order to get 2 meals out of it.
* Pasta it up! The thing that I like about pasta is that it's cheap and filling. There are so many different varieties of pasta to choose from. A box of pasta only costs $1.

* Frozen Veggie- Frozen vegetables are the way to go when your cooking on a budget. I love fresh veggies, but I'm always so disappointed when they go bad before I get the chance to use them. Frozen vegetables are affordable and great for any recipe. One bag of frozen vegetables usually runs me about $1 per bag.

*Plan before you shop- Having a plan is your best bet when trying to save money at the grocery store. I like to plan out some meals for the week first, then put a list together before I head to the grocery store. Whenever I go to the store without a plan, I either don't buy enough or end up spending way too much on unnecessary items. (Here is a tip within a tip... don't go shopping on an empty stomach).

*Plan your meals around sales- When I plan out my meals for the week, I always look on my app or in the store adds to see what is on sale. This way you can get an idea of what to make before you go to the store. 

* Use your freezer- Sometimes I will find a great deal that I don't want to pass up. For example, when meat is on sale I will often buy it and stick it in my freezer for a later time. I love finding buy-one-get-one-free deals. That's usually when I try to stock up on chicken or ground turkey.

* Always keep key ingredients on hand- Make sure you stay stocked up on common spices and condiments. Spices like chili powder, garlic powder and oregano are always good to keep on hand. For my bridal shower, I was given a spice rack. It turned out to be a great gift for me. I rarely run into a recipe that calls for a spice that I don't have.

*Don't be afraid to buy the store brand- Grocery stores all have their own store brands, weather it's Great Value, Kroger or Spartan, they are all just as good as the name brand. Some people have it in their heads that the store brands are not as good as the name brands. This is not necessarily true. The store brands offer the same product at a much better value than the name brand. When it comes to cereal, peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, or pasta, I always go for the store brand, and I am never disappointed.

Grocery shopping will vary with the needs of your family. For me, I'm cooking for 2 people. My grocery budget is some where around $400 per month. For us that is doable, for a family of 5 your budget would be much higher. The key to setting a budget, is to make your goal to spend as little as possible. Hopefully these tips can help you set a doable budget.
Have fun shopping and cooking!!

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