Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nutritious Frugalicious Meals

Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost you a fortune if you take the time to prepare before you head into the grocery store. In the beginning preparing a game plan may take a little extra time and effort but once it becomes a habit your bank account will be thanking you.

Photo: Getty Images

The key to shopping on a budget is planning out your meals and trying to make things from scratch. See I put this picture up because that is what most people think when the words "from scratch" are mentioned. But let me inform you that the scratch word doesn't need to be scary and you know what; it really doesn't take that much more time to prepare then most convenience foods. With the economy going down and the price of food being not that cheap I want to give you 3 tips on how you can make Nutritious Frugalicious Meals. So if you are ready lets dig in!!

1. Meal Planning:

So before you can begin your plan its best to create a recipe bank by going through cook books or looking on-line to copy down recipes that you enjoy or would like to try. Having this collection will make it easier to create your grocery shopping plan. Here is a weekly and monthly printable meal plan sheets to get you started.

Begin your planning by first looking at the weekly flyers to see what is on sale. When you know what items are on sale it’s easy to figure out which recipes you can make from your bank. While looking through the flyers check your cupboards, freezer and refrigerator to see what ingredients you have to accompany the ones on sale. This will help you put together a menu for the week. Try to create your menu according to Canada’s Food Guide by enjoying meals that include vegetables, whole grains, fish or lean meats, fruit and milk. With a completed weekly menu you are now ready to make the shopping list. Having a list with you will help you remember the items that need to be purchased. Write down only the items that you need for your weekly menu and try to write your list according to the store lay out so you don’t find yourself going back through the aisles making impulsive buys.

With a well made game plan you are now ready to hit the stores. Here are a few “in the store tips” to help you be a Smart Shopper.

Scan the shelf from top to bottom: The less expensive items are found on the top and bottom shelves.

More for less: Buy foods such as cereal, pasta, rice, sugar, beans, herbs and spices from the bulk section.

Aisle last: Fill up your chart with items from around the outside of the grocery. The items in the aisles are more expensive pre-packaged foods.

Reduced items: Find out when produce, meat and bread products are reduced.

Try generic: In many cases, store brand foods are identical or as good as name-brand products.

Single serving packages: Crackers, yogurts and carrot sticks are convenient but they are no bargain. It’s cheaper to buy these items in bulk and make your own snack sizes.

Have a look: Unit prices are the #1 way to tell if you are getting the most for your money. These are found below every food item in the store.

On hand: Always keep basic cooking items in the kitchen.

Prices: Keep a price list of the food items you usually buy so you can check it with sale prices to be sure your getting a deal.

Put it in the freezer: Freezing meats and bread products that have been reduced or bought on sale will save you big money.

In season: Fruits and vegetables bought in season cost less. Many of these products can be bagged and frozen for 6 months or more.

No added sauces and seasonings: These products not only add up on your grocery bill but they are also high in calories, fat and salt.

Go for leftovers: Save time by doubling or tripling recipes and freeze the leftovers for another meal.

2. Stock your Pantry

Last week I just did a post about what types of foods I like to keep in our pantry. Also I am really enjoying having pre made mixes (made by me of course) on hand for days when I have very little time to measure out and create a recipe. There are lots of "stocked pantry list" that you can find on the internet but the thing that I advise is you go through your cupboards and keep a little record of the foods you have in there and the ingredients that you bake and cook with the most.

3. Stock the Freezer

I love my freezer so much and have so many things that I stuff in there. I love that I can buy lots of foods that are marked down and I can stock up on foods when they are on sale like cheese. Because I have so much stuffed in there I needed to organize it a bit so the food I was purchasing wouldn't get lost and freezer burnt. Also the freezer is great for making meals in advance and this is where the money saving comes in for a two parent working home. Its great to make large batches of meat loaf, meat balls, sauces, chili, taco meats, fajita meat...anything you can think of to have pre-made meals ready in the freezer that way you can pull them out before going to work and heat them up when you get home!! I love having lots of these meals in the freezer for days that we need a fast supper!!

So there are my 3 main tips for creating frugalicious meals!!

1 comment:

Mom2fur said...

We bought a small chest freezer about 2 years ago, and it has been one of the best investments we've ever made for the house. A cheap one, too, since it cost less than $200. I love being able to buy extra meat, bread, etc. and having a place to keep it. Not only that, but make-ahead dishes, too. Yep, a freezer is a frugal family's best friend! (Say that 10x fast, LOL!)

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