I am sharing 20 family budget food ideas today because I am very concerned about how expensive groceries are today. It seems like the prices keep going up and up each time I go to the grocery store. You really can budget meals that are nutritious and delicious without giving up a lot. I am going to start with 20 of the favorites that I used with my kids.
I also interviewed a few other families that I admire for more ideas.
1. Make A Family Budget
How many of you have a weekly, monthly or yearly budget? Budgets are extremely important. It does not matter how much money you make. If you make $1,000.00 a month or $10,000.00 a month you must have a budget. We cannot have more going out than we have coming in each month. Get a piece of paper and write down what you net each month. The very first thing on your list will be your rent or house payments. Then start listing your utilities. If you have payments on other things like car loans or credit cards write those down next. If you make church contributions list the amount you pay.
Now put a reasonable grocery amount (break the amount into per month-then per week). Pay yourself at least some percentage of what you make and plan to put it in a savings account. Better yet…do an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to go directly into a savings account. This might seem really hard at first, but with a little work you can do it. If there is zero money for going out to dinner or to a movie, oh well. There are plenty of FREE activities in every city. I promise you can do it.
2. Plan Your Weekly Meals
One really good idea, for me anyway, is planning out what the dinner meal will be each night. I can wing breakfast and lunch. But life is less stressful for me if I have a dinner in the slow cooker. Yep, that baby is my BFF! I love smelling dinner cook while I write or go work in the garden.
My husband and I eat pretty simply. I was blessed with a hubby who will eat 99.99% of what I make everyday. We have been married 45 years and every night (he has never missed one night) he tells me what a great dinner I have fixed. Although he helps me prepare the dinner, her makes me feel like the best cook on earth.
3. Soup Is Delicious & Nutritious
Soup is really awesome and a great way to use up leftovers, if possible. Here again the slow cooker comes to our rescue with dinner cooking while we do the laundry or go to work. We can make soup with or without meat. Just think of all the beans or veggies we can use to make a yummy hot soup. When you make a loaf of my french bread in one hour and it looks like you slaved over the hot stove today.
4. Stock The Freezer
If you can save money for a freezer, even if it is a small freezer, you can stock it when some foods go on sale and save $$ big time. I make bread so I could not be without a freezer. I also freeze my stray tomatoes when I do not have enough to pressure can or dehydrate. I freeze grated
cheese in smaller bags instead of buying smaller more expensive bags of cheese. Buy bags of frozen chicken and you always have chicken on hand. You can also cook a lot of chicken or hamburger and bag the amounts you need for different meals.
Make freezer meals that are ready to go into the slow cooker. My friend Jazmin is one frugal chick @Frugality Gal (.com). Here is her freezer meals post that will save your food budget a lot of time and money.
5. Use Coupons Wisely
Don’t get me wrong, I love coupons but not for unhealthy pre-packaged items. I love coupons for shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes. But today I am talking about food items. My husband loves cold cereal. I realize it is not good for you, but here’s the deal, he loves it.
He reads the newspaper each morning and eats his cereal with fruit on top. If you watch for coupons sometimes you can save $$$$ on cold cereal. One of my concerns is seeing folks buy those sugar-filled fruit drinks in those small boxes just because they have coupons.
We should buy more healthy drinks in reusable containers and fill them with good old water once emptied. Water is great for all of us. We do not need a sweetened drink that is too expensive or full of sugar. So in other words use coupons wisely. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon. Most pre-packaged foods are full of chemicals.
6. Buy Items You Use On Sale
Usually in the fall most stores have case lot sales. I have had plenty of cans expire, so I have had to cut way back on case lot sales. I do buy ten cans at a time of various foods I use year round. Make a list of the items you use most during the year.
I always use cream of chicken soup. It is pre-packaged / canned, but I have never tasted a homemade cream of chicken soup I like. I buy diced tomatoes because I do not have a large yard like I used to to grow and can enough for the year. Pasta goes on sale often. Rice and beans are great to buy when they are on sale.
Write down all your favorite foods that would be great in your pantry. When they go on sale you can buy a case or two, if that fits your budget.
7. Skip The Brands
Buy the store brands of food when you can. I am fussy with Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup, but I will buy store brands of most everything else.
8. Buy An Apron-Cook At Home
Buy an apron and use it. If you cook at home you will not only save money but time as well. The bonus is you will really know what is in the food you are preparing. Its a really good example to your kids to see that meals can be made at home. We do not have to eat out every meal and eat their food is usually high in fat and saturated with salt.
9. Bulk Up On Food
I love, love, love those stores that sell bulk items in large bins. Oh my goodness, you can save so much money on so many things.
10. Avoid Eating Out
I realize some of the topics are overlapping a bit but I am just going to say it more than once. You can save money on your food budget if you eat at home. It does take planning. It takes a budget. Homemade meals are so much better for you than restaurant meals if you buy the right items and prepare them without lots of sugar and salt.
11. Grow Your Food-Garden
If you can this fall get a garden spot ready for next year. It’s exciting and therapeutic for me to work my hands in the soil and produce so many fresh vegetables for my dinner. I know they are truly organic. I know the seeds of the plants that are grown. Nothing is better than that first fresh tomato you pick, particularly if enjoyed on a BLT (go easy on the bacon).
12. Stay Out Of The Store
This would be my number one tip to save on groceries. Stay out of the stores. Nothing wreaks havoc with a food budget than picking up one or two items on impulse when on a regular shopping trip. The more the trips the more we buy stuff we really could live without.
13. Leftovers Are Great
If you make lasagna for instance, make two lasagnas and freeze one for another week. If you make a large pot of soup, freeze some in a jar or two for another meal. Use your leftovers for lunch the next day.
14. Buy Cases Of Canned Goods
Buy only your favorite items you use a lot and fill your pantry as your budget can afford.
15. Can Or Dehydrate Your Food
Invest in a water bath container if you have access to some low cost fruit, or better yet, FREE fruit. Learn to dehydrate your vegetables. You can dehydrate frozen vegetables and save money with your food budget.
16. Make Your Own Bread
I am sure you know by now I make bread. I make white bread when the grandkids are around, but mostly freshly ground whole wheat bread. If I did not make bread I could not stretch my food budget. Save money in your food budget with this whole wheat bread recipe
17. Go Meatless-Beans Are Great
If you love beans stock up on them big time. I am really concerned that the price of beans will escalate because of high demand since many people are moving away from meat, not only for health reasons, but because of the trend for higher meat prices. All beans are a great source of protein. Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, etc.
18. Cook Food In A Slow Cooker
Whenever possible use your slow cooker. Life can be crazy busy…start your dinner in the morning and dinner is ready when you are. It also saves on electricity since you don’t have to heat up the whole oven.
19. Stay Clear Of Convenience Foods/Drinks
I talked a little about this above. Here’s the deal, buy some reusable water containers and fill them with water. Kids usually do not need sugared drinks or juices.
If you think you are buying pre-packaged items because you are so busy…take a few minutes and read the ingredients. Then look at the sodium level. Be mindful of what your food budget is being spent on.
20. Brown Bag Your Lunches
Make your lunch to take to work. You will save hundreds a year. Plus, you will know what is in your lunch. I can bet less salt and less calories.
21. Freshly Sliced Fruit in Water
I love it when a reader sends me a great tip! She suggested slicing fresh fruit in our bottle of water to go. Yes, this would be so refreshing and healthy!
I have had a budget my whole life, it’s who I am. I hope this list of my 20 family budget food ideas gives you more ways to save money. If you have some I can add to the list please let me know. We need to save money on food.
Mother and child: AdobeStock_85079837 by Alena Ozerova