Budgets are stretched tightly these days and we’re all looking for ways to cut back. One of the most expensive things on a family’s budget is food. If you look around the grocery store, though, you’ll find some pleasant alternatives to your usual meals, and you’ll save money as well.
Banquet Crock Pot Classics is a meal in a bag, with choices like Beef Stew, Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken With Redskin Potatoes And Vegetables, or Creamy Chicken With Pasta. The meals run about $5 to $6, on average, and will easily feed a family of 4 to 6. Since it already contains the meat, vegetables, and starch, you’ll only need to add a fruit for dessert and you’ve got a complete meal at a cheap price.
Tuna is something that’s overlooked by many, but it’s super cheap and can be made into some great casseroles. Throw tuna in with some egg noodles, cream of chicken soup, and peas, and there’s a complete meal for two or three bucks. Look online to find even more simple and cheap tuna recipes.
Canned chicken is slightly higher priced than canned tuna, but can be made into all sorts of casseroles, salads, sandwiches or even snacks. The chicken costs a dollar or two a can but will go a long way after making it into a casserole with noodles and veggies.
On occasion, have breakfast for supper. Bacon and sausage prices have risen but are still a good value. Add eggs, toast or biscuits, and hash browns or fried potato slices and you’ll have a delicious meal for a small cost. Add a fruit dish on the side or serve with orange juice.
Country dishes like ham and beans are not only delicious, but very cheap. Navy or pinto beans cost next to nothing and ham chunks are not too costly either, particularly if you purchase them with the bone-in. Add cornbread to the menu and your family will be pleased. The meal usually allows quite a few leftovers for the next day’s lunch.
Purchase pork and beans, add wiener chunks, and serve with biscuits. Add side dishes if desired. Pork and beans are even cheaper if you purchase the large cans. Or, wrap wieners and cheese in crescent rolls and bake for a pig-in-a-blanket meal that kids will love.
Canned hams may seem expensive at first, but when you see how far they go, you realize they’re worth the money. A small canned ham, like Armour or Black Label, can be purchased for about $7 to $9. When you get home, cut most of the ham into slices for a couple different dinners, then save some and chunk it for omelets and other breakfast menus. Fry or bake ham slices and add a side dish of fruit and one of veggies. Bake cornbread or warm up dinner rolls to go with it. You’ll get two or three meals from one ham.
Chicken and rice is easy to make and very cheap. Whole chickens are much cheaper than purchasing cutup pieces. Boil the chicken, remove bones and skin, then add in the appropriate amount of rice. Some people add carrots or peas to the mix or serve them on the side. Don’t like rice? Add the chicken to egg noodles instead of rice. It’s just as easy to make and every bit as delicious. You can also purchase a whole chicken and simply bake it, spreading seasonings over the outside. Serve the baked chicken with your choice of side dishes.
Soup is cheap and there are some really great varieties these days. Add grilled cheese sandwiches on the side, or even add ham to the grilled cheese. Or, add things to your soup to make the meal, like pepperoni and cheese in tomato soup, or small meat balls added to vegetable soup.
Reducing your food tab means more money for other things. You don’t have to go hungry or eat less than delicious meals just because you’re on a budget, though. Overlook some of the usual meals you normally prepare and have a new look at some other foods your grocery may carry. You’ll be surprised at how far you can stretch a dollar, too, when you use coupons, rebates, and bogo specials.