You don’t have to be an expert cook to prepare healthy meals for your family. Armed with a few pantry staples, you make whip up a variety of easy, cheap, healthy and most importantly, delicious meals to feed your family for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Spend a few extra minutes before going to the grocery store to plan out meals based on the sales flier and ingredients you have available. Planning ahead helps you save both money and food.
Stock Up Your Pantry
When you have a well-stocked pantry, you can prepare healthy, inexpensive meals, many times without even needing to run to the grocery store. Stock up on foods you and your family love to eat, such as pasta and other grains, when they go on sale. If you cut out coupons, pair sales with coupons to save more money. Other common and cheap pantry items include canned or dried beans, canned vegetables and canned fish.
Often, dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world are cheap and easy to prepare, because they primarily rely on grains and vegetables. For instance, you can prepare a tasty, Indian-inspired dish using a can of chickpeas, a can of diced tomatoes, Basmati rice and spices such as turmeric, coriander and fenugreek. Bring the taste of Chinese takeout home, minus the MSG and extra cost, by stir-frying a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, rice and marinated tofu.
Despite their bad reputation, leftovers can be your friend when it comes to meal planning. For instance, if chicken is on sale, buy extra so that you can use the leftover meat in a sandwich or salad the next day. Many dishes reheat nicely in a microwave for lunch the next day. You can also buy an entire chicken and use whatever your family doesn’t eat to make stock for a soup.
Cut Out Meat
Although you can prepare an inexpensive and healthy meal using meat, meals that are meat-free tend to be even less expensive. Aim to serve one or two meat-free meals each week. You can also make your meat go a bit further by combining it with beans or a soy product such as tofu if you don’t like the idea of eliminating it completely from meals.
One way to make sure you are able to put a healthy but cheap meal on the table is to make prepare several batches of food in advance and freeze them for later. For instance, make a double batch of beans and rice or a vegetable stir-fry, serve one to your family for dinner that night and store the other in the freezer to serve later. Just remember to eat the food you have frozen before it gets freezer-burned and unpalatable.