Affordable meals to keep costs down
FFamilies that budget for groceries each month have no doubt had to adjust their budgets to account for the rising cost of food. For some, that means eating less or cutting out the extras. For others, it means stretching what they have – perhaps adding more pasta or rice to a meal.
Facebook groups for families on a budget are full of comments from people looking for creative ways to stretch food or save on weekly grocery purchases. Some said fresh fruit, once considered a staple, is becoming a luxury in their homes. Others say they’ve cut “fun foods” from their budget – replacing ice cream for dessert with graham crackers, for example.
Some families may turn to their Depression-era grandparents’ saving advice – put loaves of bread in the freezer when they find them on sale or turn to canned vegetables instead. than fresh.
Even families that aren’t on a budget might notice a relief in their grocery receipts by changing a few habits while bending during this time of inflation. Here are some ways to save – and some money-saving recipes.
5 ways to save
- Meal plan. Plan meals for two weeks at a time and – this is the hardest part – stick to it.
- In-store sales. Check what’s on sale at grocery stores. If chicken is on sale for $1 a pound, buy more than you normally would and keep some in the freezer.
- Cook in bulk. Roasting a large pork roast can be very effective when using it for different meals, such as soup, carnitas, and pulled pork sliders. Making large batches of foods like chili is also a great fallback for those nights when you don’t have time to cook. Rather than take out, take a meal out of the freezer.
- Eat at home. It’s difficult, but can save a lot of money. Or if you want to treat yourself, make take-out pizza once a week as a reward for eating at home all week.
- Grow your own food. Now is the time to think about sowing seeds or clearing a spot in your flower bed to grow your own spring and summer vegetables. Growing your own lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and herbs can save you a lot.
When your favorite spaghetti sauce is on sale, buy a few extra jars to make inexpensive meals like this cheat lasagna. It’s also a good Meatless Monday option.
For 6 persons
- 1 pound fusilli or penne pasta
- 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
- 1 carton (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray or butter a casserole dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and cook according to package directions until al dente.
- Drain well and toss with spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for 10 more minutes.
Fried rice is a good use for leftover rice. It’s also a great way to use up the little bits of veggies hiding in your crisper drawer, saving you the hassle of going to the grocery store for new ingredients.
For 4 people
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 green onions, trimmed and chopped
- 2 cups vegetables (broccoli, carrots, celery or whatever you like), finely chopped
- 2 cups cooked meat (chicken, pork, beef), diced
- 3 cups leftover rice (cooked)
- Soya sauce
- In a small bowl, beat the eggs and sesame oil with a fork.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a wok or deep sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add ginger, garlic and green onions, sauté for 1 minute. Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil and add the vegetables, stirring and cooking 2 to 3 minutes. Add the meat and stir to heat through. Add rice and drizzle with soy sauce. Cook, stirring and stirring the rice with a spatula so that it does not stick. When very hot, add the beaten eggs, cook and stir until they resemble scrambled eggs. Serve with extra soy sauce.
Make this one when you find bacon or spinach on sale. Some kids may go for spinach, but most kids love cheese tortellini.
For 6 to 8 people
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 6 cups canned chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 8 to 10 ounces fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
- 1 package (7 ounces) fresh spinach
- Grated parmesan cheese
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until cooked but not crispy. In bacon fat, cook onion, garlic and Italian seasoning, stirring until onions start to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add broth and tomatoes, cover and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook according to package directions.
- Add spinach and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Serve hot with grated parmesan.
Making your own snacks and sweets can save you money. This one is a kids favorite.
Easy Cornflake Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 bag (10 ounces) miniature marshmallows
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 cups of cornflakes
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Pour marshmallows into pan and stir until completely melted. Add peanut butter and vanilla, mixing until peanut butter has melted. Turn off the fire.
- Pour in the cornflakes, mixing until well coated.
- Using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop, place the spoons on a cookie sheet. Allow cookies to cool and harden 15 minutes before serving.