Let’s face it, it’s a PITA (hopefully I don’t need to spell that out for you) and I would rather clean my house than meal plan or prep.
But that also makes me a good resource for you because I’ve found a few hacks that make life a whole heck of a lot easier on me. Besides, you already know my affinity for cooking. #hateit
So first things first, you need to work with food that can be stretched 7 different ways from Sunday.
Here are a few suggestions:
OK, maybe not shrimp but that was funny and I was trying to make a point because you can totally do the same thing with chicken. It’s possible. Check it out.
Now that you have some stretchy foods, you need some recipes. But not crazy long recipes that require a ton of ingredients. That’s what I’m trying to avoid here. But if you do a Google search (Google knows everything), you’ll find a literal ton of websites dedicated to cheap cooking.
Check a few of them out here, here, and here.
And I know some of you are thinking that some of these meals are not all that healthy. I see your thought and raise you this question, healthier than what? The fast food meal you thought was cheaper?
Let me challenge your thinking a bit. Lots of people believe it’s cheaper to eat fast food than it is to eat healthy. My response to that is while some of these recipes may not be the epitome of health, for all intents and purposes, they are BETTER than fast food.
I mean really, a fast food hamburger and fries is “healthier” than a homemade cheesy chicken and rice casserole??
No. No it’s not.
You will always be better off eating food you purchased and cooked yourself over fast food. Let’s also remember that we don’t believe in perfection. We start where we are with what we have. So let’s view this as step number 1, learn an alternative to fast food that’s cheaper and healthier.
OK, let’s move on.
Stretchable food, CHECK.
Next step, plan it out.
This is where most of us get stuck. It’s a lot of work to plan a weekly menu but guess what? There’s an app (or 5) for that right here.
You decide what you want to eat (I highly recommend just picking out 7-10 recipes that you just rotate through), plug them into the app, and voila you have a grocery list and your week all planned out.
The key is to keep it simple. You don’t need to be Chef Ramsey for every meal. Double a recipe so you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Take one night and make breakfast for dinner.
I know that we like to think this is rocket science but it’s not. We just make it feel that way.
Now that we have everything in order, it’s time to shop, but where are the best deals so we save money? That is always going to depend on your area and what is on sale that week, but I do recommend doing a few things to help.
BUY IN BULK
It’s no secret that some foods are better off purchased in bulk, but be careful with buying fresh food in bulk. You may end up throwing it away because it spoiled faster than you could eat.
Things I recommend buying in bulk:
-chicken/beef (you can always freeze)
-eggs (just be sure to buy what you need)
Disclaimer: If your grocery store has some of these items on sale, then you may be better off buying there, but you need to check the per unit cost just to be sure.
ORGANIC OR NO
For me personally, I like to buy organic and non-gmo as much as possible. But I would rather have you move away from fast food first and start eating better food in general before we focus on the minor details of organic food.
So my suggestion here is simple, if you can afford it, buy organic. If you can’t, don’t worry about it and buy what fits your budget. If things change in the future, then reassess it then.
As you plan out your menu, try to pair recipes that have similar ingredients and, if possible, match the sale items for the week at your local grocery store. You’ll spend less and be able to fully utilize everything you purchase.
I’m sure there are so many more options that I haven’t thought of, so if you have any, please share them in the comments section below. Let’s help each other spend less and not go crazy.
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.