The best cooking ideas from around the world

What is the best way to plan out meals for the week on a budget?

with 9 comments

My husband and I just got married and are on a budget. How do I plan out good meals for the week that will also help me stay in a budget between $50-$100 for the week.

Also what are some good ideas for lunches to take to work? I would take more sandwiches, but I do not like them after they have been pre made and sit in the fridge. Any other suggestions would be great.

Thanks!
Oops I also forgot…if you have any good cheap meal suggestions that would be great too?

If you have a farmer’s market near you, get your produce there. It’s usually cheaper and fresher and sometimes, if you catch the sellers at the end of the day, you can bargain for some great deals on produce because they would rather sell it than take it back home.

Once a month I make a huge pot of vegetarian chili with vegetables bought from the farmers market. Load it up with tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, onions, peppers and celery. With chopped mushrooms in it you don’t even miss the meat. Then I get the "Pruta" package of 17 plastic containers from IKEA for 5 bucks and package up chili to keep in the freezer for quick meals. It heats fast in the microwave. Also that chili is great with eggs for weekend breakfasts…put the chili in a non-stick skillet and when it starts to bubble, crack an egg or two right on top and cover and cook until the egg is the way you like it. Top with shredded cheddar and you’ve got a fabulous breakfast or brunch.

Waste nothing, take all those vegetable ends, herb stems, meat bones, seafood shells and keep them in a large zip loc bag in the freezer. When you have enough you can cover them with water in a stock pot or dutch oven and simmer a few hours to make your own stock or soup broth. It’s also good for gravies and sauces.

See if your local supermarkets have email sale circulars and sign up for them so you won’t miss any sales.

If you have a 99 cent store near you, see if they have a food aisle. I don’t trust a lot of the products they have but you can get herbs and spices and dried beans, rice and pasta super cheap sometimes. (My local store sells 2 16 oz bags of dried beans for 99 cents).

Lunch couldn’t be easier…make enough at dinner to take leftovers for lunch. For sandwiches wrap the bread, meats and vegetable in separate packages and assemble them at lunch time, they’ll taste much fresher.

Written by admin

August 11th, 2013 at 6:51 am

9 Responses to 'What is the best way to plan out meals for the week on a budget?'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'What is the best way to plan out meals for the week on a budget?'.

  1. make a list of foods and put that on a chart compared to prices for the week. For lunch luine cuisines or sales are good.
    References :

    Rae

    11 Aug 13 at 12:21 pm

  2. Cook enough so that you have leftovers – or make a bigger meal on the weekends – roast a chicken – then you can make chicken sandwiches (or just take chicken) or chicken salad – hot chicekn sandwiches – same with a pot roast – a pasta meal – lasagne, baked ziti, etc goes a long way.
    References :

    kwflamingo

    11 Aug 13 at 12:41 pm

  3. Start with a base, a large turkey or pork butt and make several meals out of it throughout the week, ending with soup. Use all your leftovers for the soup, freezing them as you have them throughout the week. Bring bread and your filling separate and make you sandwich at work.
    References :

    Jane

    11 Aug 13 at 12:49 pm

  4. I’m on a tight food budget, too and I’m also in the position of needing a lot of calories and protein (I’m a bodybuilder.) I think that the best way to cut back on food spending is to reduce meat consumption. Quality meat is very expensive and, provided you substitute some adequate replacements (as suggested below) you really don’t need it.

    I started cooking a lot of beans and rice and lentils and rice. There are plenty of recipes around for variations of these. A 1-lb. bag of each runs less than $2, which will make about 10 servings. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s important to combine with rice because that makes a complete protein, which your body needs. Much of the world subsists mainly on these foods, because they can rarely (if ever) afford meat.

    I’ll still eat chicken breast or fish a couple times a week, but it’s no longer at the center of my diet. I’m spending a lot less, I haven’t found it affects my training and my instinct is that my health is better for it.
    References :

    Reid

    11 Aug 13 at 12:54 pm

  5. Consider using store brands; most of them have a money back guarantee. Be flexible with your menu – sometimes, seasonal foods are less expensive. Example: fresh asparagus is more expensive in the wintertime.

    Steer clear of prepackaged convenience foods like Shake & Bake, frozen mac & cheese and frozen pancakes and make your own for pennies. Spend a rainy Sunday making chili or soup and freeze some in 1 or 2-cup portions for later use; a full freezer runs more efficiently, so you might as well pack it full of food. My all-time favorite cheap dinner is a baked potato with canned (or home-made) chili poured over it.

    I could go on, but you get the general idea. You don’t have to live on ramen noodles to save money on food, it just takes some planning.

    As far as lunch goes, consider using tortillas, pita pockets or even crackers instead of using bread and package them separately.
    References :

    Major Eyeswater

    11 Aug 13 at 1:32 pm

  6. If you have a farmer’s market near you, get your produce there. It’s usually cheaper and fresher and sometimes, if you catch the sellers at the end of the day, you can bargain for some great deals on produce because they would rather sell it than take it back home.

    Once a month I make a huge pot of vegetarian chili with vegetables bought from the farmers market. Load it up with tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, onions, peppers and celery. With chopped mushrooms in it you don’t even miss the meat. Then I get the "Pruta" package of 17 plastic containers from IKEA for 5 bucks and package up chili to keep in the freezer for quick meals. It heats fast in the microwave. Also that chili is great with eggs for weekend breakfasts…put the chili in a non-stick skillet and when it starts to bubble, crack an egg or two right on top and cover and cook until the egg is the way you like it. Top with shredded cheddar and you’ve got a fabulous breakfast or brunch.

    Waste nothing, take all those vegetable ends, herb stems, meat bones, seafood shells and keep them in a large zip loc bag in the freezer. When you have enough you can cover them with water in a stock pot or dutch oven and simmer a few hours to make your own stock or soup broth. It’s also good for gravies and sauces.

    See if your local supermarkets have email sale circulars and sign up for them so you won’t miss any sales.

    If you have a 99 cent store near you, see if they have a food aisle. I don’t trust a lot of the products they have but you can get herbs and spices and dried beans, rice and pasta super cheap sometimes. (My local store sells 2 16 oz bags of dried beans for 99 cents).

    Lunch couldn’t be easier…make enough at dinner to take leftovers for lunch. For sandwiches wrap the bread, meats and vegetable in separate packages and assemble them at lunch time, they’ll taste much fresher.
    References :

    Chanteuse_ar

    11 Aug 13 at 1:54 pm

  7. write a list of foods that are necessary for the food you like…XD
    References :

    VampLover111

    11 Aug 13 at 2:11 pm

  8. Browse the weekly ads at the supermarkets near you and plan your meals around them. Never buy anything thats not on sale unless its absolutely necessary, and don’t be afraid of store brands! I’m in college and save a lot of money at the grocery store by doing just that.

    If you want to bring down your grocery bill, you’ll have to quit buying packaged and already cooked things. Instead of a bag of salad, buy the lettuce and chop it yourself. Buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. Make your own pasta sauce, etc.

    Generally, pasta, beans, and rice are very inexpensive, so plan meals around those. Make a spaghetti dish one night, mix rice and beans together another night, make tacos. Stir fries are also great when you get yourself a big bag of frozen veggies – much more economical than buying fresh veggies that will go bad in a few days.

    Instead of buying expensive cereals (around 5-6 dollars a box around here), buy a big container of oatmeal and cook that each morning. Peanut butter on toast is also a good choice.

    Also, buy your spices at the dollar store. Seriously. They’re just as good as the ones in the supermarket but WAY less expensive. They’re a great place to get other necessities too – paper bowls, toilet paper, etc.

    Good luck!
    References :

    gems622

    11 Aug 13 at 2:40 pm

  9. Plan your menu so that you have leftovers to eat later. For example:
    Sunday: Pot roast and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc)
    Monday: Salad with Tuna or chicken, bread
    Tuesday: Spaghetti (make your own sauce and freeze the leftovers for use later), salad, garlic bread
    Wednesday: Baked chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots
    Thursday: Leftover pot roast sandwiches, chips, salad
    Friday: Pizza, veggie sticks
    Saturday: Lasagna, salad, garlic bread
    Sunday: Stew or soup, rolls

    Buy in bulk when you can, but not produce unless you can eat it quickly. Check the papers for grocery store specials and stock up then. Your freezer is your friend – portion leftovers and freeze for later use. Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh, last longer and are often on special at the grocery store. Look for farmer’s markets in your town – local is fresher, lasts longer and might be less expensive.

    Lunch can be leftovers from the night before, a package of ramen with a little chicken and frozen vegetables added, soup, etc. If you like sandwiches, try what my Dad used to do: make up a week’s worth of sandwiches (lunch meat, cold cuts, balogna, peanut butter & jelly) and freeze them. Take one out in the morning and by the time lunch rolls around it’ll be defrosted and ready to eat.
    References :

    Willow Natalia

    11 Aug 13 at 3:09 pm

Leave a Reply