Planning a thrifty menu can be challenging, especially when you are on a tight budget. I’ve put together a few handy tips for ways that you can still have tasty meals and not exceed your grocery budget. It all comes down to having a thrifty menu! Going to the store without a menu in mind is the first reason for overspending. Below are all the ways I plan my own thrifty menu each week, so read on to be inspired!
1. Plan by What’s on Sale
Putting together a thrifty menu means shopping by what’s on sale. Use your store sale paper and weekly ads to find out which items you can get the best deals on this week. Cereals, pastas, meats, and dairy products can typically run pretty expensive, so plan your meals for what is on sale each week.
2. Be Creative with Leftovers
Once a week you should serve leftovers. In fact, a great tip is to cook a double batch of whatever you make and freeze the rest for later! Not only do you save money, but also you have a yummy dinner just waiting to be heated up for a busy night one week. Be creative with leftovers too. Leftover stir-fry can be pureed and become the filling for burritos! Just add beans and salsa for some flavor.
3. Cook from Scratch
Buying prepackaged items can run your grocery bill up before you know it. Plan your menu around things you know how to cook from scratch. Try to cook as many things from scratch as you can. Bread can be time consuming and difficult to make from scratch, but pies, cakes, cookies, and casseroles are pretty easy to throw together, even for the most basic cook!
4. Eliminate Snacking
When I grocery shop, I have to steer clear of the snack foods! When you’re shelling out three or four dollars a box for crackers and cookies, you can spend more than you ever intended. Besides, most prepackaged foods aren’t good for you. Try to keep fresh fruits and veggies around to munch on if necessary, but more than that, plan for filling meals on your menu so the need to snack is eliminated entirely. Better for your wallet and your waistline!
5. Stock up when There Are Sales
A thrifty menu plan can include using items that you already have on hand to make meals with, and only buying what you need. This is why it’s an excellent money-saver to stock up on non-perishable items that you cook with and eat frequently when they are on sale or if you have coupons. My local grocery store just had my favorite pasta on sale for $.99 a box, which is a savings of over $1! I bought several boxes, and we had multiple meals for a few weeks.
6. Go the Cheaper Route
For things that you love to eat and buy nearly every grocery store run, consider trying to find a cheaper route. If 5 recipes on your menu plan call for milk, buy a bag of powdered milk. Use the powdered milk to cook with, and the fresh milk to drink with. Making little changes like this can shave dollars off your grocery bill, and give you a thriftier menu!
7. Buy Local Fruits and Veggies
If you notice lots of fresh fruits and veggies on your menu plan, that’s great! But you will save so much money if you buy local when possible. Farmers markets are ideal places to check in the summer. You can buy whole bushels of your fave produce, and then freeze or can it to use as needed!
I hope these tips are able to help you plan a thrifty menu for your family and stay under budget this week! Thrifty menu planning is possible; it just takes a little time out of your schedule each week. You can do it on your lunch break, or during the baby’s nap time so you have time to concentrate! What are your tips for planning a thrifty menu?