MONEY
11 Ways To Cook On A Budget
Diana Murphy · Oct 18, 2019
a woman preparing fresh greens for a salad—also, there's a pepper
If you’re like most busy adults, meal planning probably sounds like a hassle. Most of us simply do not have time to spend in the kitchen preparing next week’s meals—this is especially true for large families. Yet, by making even just a few changes to your routine, meal planning can be simple, saving you time and money. Below, we pulled together a list of eleven strategies to take you from food-prep zero to food-prep hero.

How To Get Started

1. Get organized: Making a clear plan for the week will help you avoid spending money on those pesky impulse items that are conveniently shelved near the grocery store checkout lanes. Create a grocery list (and stick to it!).

2. Embrace discounts: Is there a special sale on certain items at your local grocery store? If it’s a product you actually consume, sales indicate that it’s time to stock up. Sign up for grocery store newsletters to have this handy info in your back pocket before shopping.

3. Cook more veggies: No, we’re not suggesting that you go vegetarian. But consider cutting down on the quantity of meat and fish you consume. These items tend to be more expensive, and can really add up at the register.

4. Use a slow cooker: If you are preparing meat, a slow cooker can be a huge money saver since it can make even the toughest cuts tender.

5. Stick to seasonal produce: Fruits and vegetables that are in season tend to be cheaper (not to mention they also lower your carbon footprint, as they were probably not shipped from a distant location).

6. Freeze your leftovers: How many times have you accidentally let food spoil while it sits in the refrigerator long past its expiration date? By freezing your leftovers, you’re extending the shelf life of already prepared meals that require minimal reheat time.

7. Enroll in supermarket discount cards: Most supermarkets offer membership discounts by simply signing up with a phone number or email. Shopping and stocking up on discounted products will save you even more cash in the long term.

8. Buy in bulk: Signing up for a Costco membership is a great way to save on bulk packaged items you use regularly. If you have the storage space, buying in bulk can save you and your family thousands on your yearly grocery budget.

9. Shop unbranded products: Why pay more for advertising and packaging? The packaged items that are unceremoniously displayed on the bottom shelves (conveniently out of eye-level range) are similar in content to those more well-known-brand items.

10. Grow a garden: If you have a yard (and a green thumb), consider taking more ownership over your food by growing it yourself.

11. Shop your farmers’ market: Contrary to popular belief, the farmers’ market is often easier on your wallet—not to mention the quality of the produce is substantially better than at your typical grocery store.

Cooking meals at home doesn’t have to be time-consuming or drab. In fact, aside from saving you money every month, it can be an easy and nutritious way to up your kitchen game.