7 Items to Keep on Hand for Great Slow Cooker Meals

Do you love using your slow cooker? It’s the perfect appliance for getting a hot meal on the table with little effort and little expense. But do you know which items to keep on hand if you own a slow cooker? There are in fact a few ingredients that can help you get a meal on the table quickly, even if you haven’t planned ahead. Take a look at these 7 items to keep on hand for great slow cooker meals, so you can put a meal together even at the last minute.

7 items to keep on hand for slow cooker meals

1. Canned cream soups.

You can dress up so many cuts of meat with a can or two of creamed soup. Cream of mushroom, celery, and chicken soups all dress up chicken and pork nicely. You can pour a can over your cut along with some water, seasonings, and vegetables if you have them and have a tasty dish in no time.

2. Barbecue sauce.

Make quick slow cooker ribs or slow cooker chicken when you add in the cut of meat along with some barbecue sauce. You can also add chopped onions if you wish to add some extra flavor, but even the sauce alone will dress up the meat nicely.

3. Ranch mix.

Dried ranch mix can spice up your chicken and even a beef roast nicely. Just sprinkle the mix in and add some butter and you will have flavorful chicken or roast that your family will love. If you have fresh veggies you can add them, but the ranch mix does well on its own.

4. Onion soup mix.

No fresh onions on hand? No problem! Dried onion soup mix can really dress up a cut of meat. Just add it along with some water and it will flavor the meat nicely. Of course you can add fresh veggies if you have them, but if not the onion soup mix is quite flavorful alone.

5. Rice and noodles.

You can bulk up any meal with some rice or noodles. Add rice or noodles along with the cream soup of your choice for a fast meal. You can also use them to make quick casseroles, soups, or stews. Rice and noodles are both cheap when bought in bulk, so stock up.

6. Certain cuts of meat.

Try to keep certain cuts of meat in your freezer so when you need to toss a quick meal in you can. Simple ribs, chicken breasts, or even an inexpensive roast all do well in a slow cooker. If you see these items on sale, stock up for future meals. They are so easy to dress up and prepare in a slow cooker.

7. Dried seasonings.

Stock up on dried seasonings. This doesn’t mean just salt and pepper, but seasoning salt, garlic salt, chili seasoning, taco seasoning, beef stew seasoning, and ranch and onion soup mix as mentioned above. All of these seasonings can be added to your slow cooker along with some water for a fantastic meal.

Make sure you are slow cooker ready when you keep these 7 slow cooker must haves on hand. They are sure to come in handy when you are preparing your next slow cooker meal in a pinch!

$20 Until Pay Day: How to Get the Most Groceries for Your Dollar

We’ve all been there: pay day is still a week away and you only have $20 to your name. This might feel like a reason to panic, but the truth is, you have options. There are certain tips and tricks you can implement so you can make that $20 go its very farthest and get the most grocery bang for your buck. Take a look at these tip on how to get the most groceries for your dollar. So you can be sure to stretch your food budget the best you can until pay day arrives.

How to get the most groceries for your dollar, Grocery saving tips

Purchase rice in bulk.

A 2 pound bag of rice will cost you about $2, especially if you buy generic. Rice is perfect for stuffing in tortillas, adding to casseroles, or serving as a side dish. You can even add some milk and sugar to it for rice pudding, and inexpensive dessert idea. ($2)

Purchase beans in bulk.

Consider a 2 pound bag of beans, perfect for using as a side dish, in soups or stews, or add them to wraps. They are full of protein, taste great, and cost pennies per serving. Just soak them to soften them and then cook to your liking. ($2)

Canned vegetables may cost less than fresh.

It can be hard to find fresh produce at a great price. If you can grab cucumbers or peppers for under $1 each grab them. If not, you may be better off buying canned. Head to a store such as Walmart or FreshCo where you can grab canned tomatoes, green beans, corn and peas for less than .80 cents a can. ($3)

Apples and bananas are your cheapest fruit option.

If you thought fresh vegetables were expensive, fresh fruit can be even worse! When you’re on a budget, fresh bananas and apples are your best options. Simple red lunch box apples run about .25 cents each, while bananas are around .70 cents per pound. This is a great way to get the fruit your body needs while staying on budget. ($3)

Powdered drink mixes are pennies per serving.

Beverages can be pricey, so instead, opt for water dressed up with a drink packet if you’re wanting something other than plain water. You can find powered drink mixes for pennies per serving. For calcium, milk may be pricey so opt for a few yogurt cups at .50 cents or so each. ($2)

Chicken will be your most budget friendly choice of meat.

You can often find chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs for a low price so this is your most budget friendly option. Dress them up with salad dressing or simple olive oil and salt and pepper. Some other cheap “meat” 😉 options include deli meat and of course, hot dogs. ($5)

Opt for day old bread choices.

Visit the day old bread store or raid the clearance bin at your local grocer for bread items under $1. Bread is perfect for sandwiches, making garlic bread, making croutons, etc. Plus if you find a great deal on it, you can freeze it. ($3)

Don’t let pay day being days away keep you from eating well. Keep these tips in mind for how to make the most of your grocery budget between pay days and see how much they can help!

How do you make your grocery budget stretch in between pay days?

How to Save Money on Whole Foods

I’ve had quite a few people mention that they struggle with knowing how too afford healthful, whole foods. I’m here to give you some useful tips today that should have you knowing how to save money on whole foods in no time!

How to Save Money on Whole Foods

grocery saving tips, how to save money on whole foods, money saving tips

When you’re looking to feed your family a healthy diet, the cost of fresh, whole foods can be a bit scary and perhaps a big turn off. Despite what some people tell you, real food is NOT cheaper than junk food. That puts a huge strain on families trying to survive on a budget.

Here are some tips you can put to use right away to help you save money on whole foods:

Visit the Farmer’s Market.

Take a visit to your local farmer’s market for amazing produce deals. Visiting closer to closing time will get you extra discounts as vendors work to clear out stock so they don’t have to pack it up. The local Farmers Market will be packed with locally grown, in season produce.

Start a garden.

Even if you live in the city you can grow some vegetables in pots! If you’re lucky you can grow an entire garden to cut the costs of feeding your family whole foods.

Here are some ideas to get you started gardening in small spaces.

Eat In Season.

Eat foods that are in season to save money all the while eating whole foods on a budget. Foods that are in season tend to be a great deal cheaper. Preserve foods as they are in season so you can enjoy them all year round.

Here’s a handy printable PDF to help you buy in-season produce.

Look for a CSA

Look for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or co-op in your local area for great deals on produce, eggs, and even pasture fed meats. A quick google search or asking around with friends should reveal a few options. Most require you to sign up in the winter for the following season.

U-Pick

Do a google search for u-pick farms near you. By picking produce yourself you get a workout, quality family time, and a steep discount on amazing produce to feed your family. Bring the whole family and pick enough to store away for the rest of the year.

Shop in bulk.

Shop the bulk bins at the grocery store for things like grains, nuts, and seeds at a discount compared to buying prepackaged goods. These bins often have sales as well so you can stock up a bit more if the budget allows. In this case, air-tight containers are your friend for storage.

Manager Specials.

Keep an eye out for manager specials on produce, meats, and dairy. These usually need to be frozen or used right away but with the price, but it’s worth the work. When putting your groceries away place all of your clearance finds in one spot and deal with them that night so you won’t forget about them.

Learn the art of food preservation.

You can take advantage of deals on whole foods by learning how to store them long term. You have several options and doing a combination of them will yield the best results. Great options include freezing, canning, and dehydrating fresh foods for later use.

By implementing these tips, you should start seeing significant savings when you’re eating whole foods. I’d love to know your tips for saving money on healthful real foods in the comments below!

Want to learn how to take advantage of whole foods in your diet? The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is packed with great resources to help you keep your family healthy, save money, and live better. This year’s bundle includes 5 free physical products that ship to Canada! Grab your copy now before it’s gone.

Reader Question: Frugal Meals for One?

im wondering

Here’s a question that a reader of Simply Frugal would love some help with:

I am a single person, trying to live frugally.  I have it down in every other area of my life, but when it comes to meal planning and buying food, I seem to waste a lot.  How do you eat healthy and frugally when you are single?

Can you help her out with some awesome suggestions?

Buy This, Not That at the Grocery Store

Buy this, not that! Here are 8 grocery items you can buy to replace their costly, less healthful counterparts.

So, you’re looking to save some more money at the grocery store without compromising your health. Sometimes it can be as simple as replacing one item with another similar item! Today, I’d love to tell you about 8 items you can buy to replace their costly, less healthful counterparts.

Oatmeal instead of cereal

Do away with the expensive boxes of cereal full of sugar and buy oatmeal! You could purchase those convenient packs of pre-made oatmeal, but I’d encourage you to buy a bag of oats instead. I find it so easy to create my own instant oatmeal packs, plus I can control the sugar content by adding various delicious toppings. Oatmeal will also help keep you feeling full so you may need less snacks 😉

Frozen fruit instead of fresh

Purchasing fresh fruit in season is an inexpensive way to get them, but frozen vegetables are a good option too. Especially because  they’re picked at the peak of their flavour and aren’t any less healthful than fresh. So if you find yourself in the dead of winter wanting fruit, try grabbing a bag of frozen fruit to save yourself some cash and disappointment with the lack of flavour.

Yogurt tub instead of cups

Sure, yogurt cups are really convenient for packing in lunches, but you could spend a little extra time once a week filling up reusable containers with yogurt from a tub instead. Buying yogurt in larger quantities (tubs or those pour bags) will save you big time.

Make dressing instead of bottled

Making salad dressings from scratch has got to be one of the most simple kitchen tasks you could do. Believe me because I don’t do complicated in the kitchen. If you’re used to buying those expensive bottles of organic/natural salad dressings, you’ll be saving yourself a bundle at the grocery store by making your own with simple inexpensive ingredients you may already have on hand! Here are some of my recipes:

Head of lettuce instead of bagged salad

Not only is a head of lettuce much cheaper than the bags or containers of salad, they last longer too! I understand the convenience of buying a bag or container, but really it doesn’t take much effort to tear up some lettuce leaves for a salad. Especially when you have to sort through the slimy pieces in the bags or containers anyways.

Rotisserie chicken instead of deli meats

Go for the whole rotisserie chicken instead of the deli meats for sandwiches. Your boring ol’ sandwiches will taste so much better! Plus, you’ll be feeding yourself something a bit healthier. But don’t stop at sandwiches, hang onto the bones and extra meat to make a delicious chicken noodle soup for another meal or two.

Dried beans instead of canned beans

I’ll be honest and say that we don’t eat a lot of beans in our house so I do tend to purchase the cans of beans. But, if you use beans a lot in your cooking, purchasing dried beans is the way to go if you want to save yourself a bundle! Cooking up a batch of dried beans is simple if you put your slow cooker to use or the new Instant Pot.

Brown Rice instead of white rice

There may not be much of a price difference between white rice and brown rice, but if you look at the nutritional value, you’ll win with buying the brown rice. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are some of the benefits, but one of the biggest pluses may be that the high amount of fiber in brown rice helps fill you up longer than white rice would. In turn, cutting down on the amount of snacks you may need between meals. Or even the amount you pile on your plate in the first place.

A you can see, there may be no need to stop buying some items completely to save money, but a simple replacement should help you out. How many of these replacements do you buy already? What are some other things that you buy to save money? 

How to Make Groceries Last Longer

Does it ever feel like your groceries just don’t last? There are probably even times when you look in the pantry only to find it bare, even though you just went shopping. Groceries just don’t seem to last long enough, but there are ways to make them last much longer!

How to Make Groceries Last Longer

Groceries just don't seem to last long enough, but there are ways to make them last much longer! Read this for some great tips.

 

Only Buy What You Need

Buying only what you need will ensure you are not wasting food. Knowing what you need and what your family will use will help to ensure you only have fresh groceries in the house that everyone will enjoy. Buying food items that your family doesn’t use will only waste money and leave you with wasted food.

Freeze What You Don’t Use

We don’t always need all the food we buy and that can mean wasting food. Make sure to freeze any food you are not going to use before the expiration date. Freezing food that you are not going to use by the expiration date will keep the food from going bad and will help you keep a stocked freezer.

Freeze Herbs

Herbs typically come in large bunches and we don’t always need all the herbs at once. People tend to throw away herbs because they only use a few and the rest of the bunch goes bad. Next time you bring herbs home from the store chop them up, put them in ice-cube trays, pour in some olive oil and then freeze. Your herbs will stay fresh and you will end up with infused olive oil next time you go to cook.

Store Produce Properly

Produce is one of the number one wasted food items. Produce can last longer than you might think but you need to store it properly. Do not cut up produce until you are ready to use it! Keep in mind that each fruit and vegetable has a different way it needs to be stored. Knowing how to store your produce properly will keep it from going bad to quick. There is a complete guide on storage techniques here.

Stock Up

When you come across a good deal make sure to stock up! Having a fully stocked pantry at rock bottom prices is always a great way to ensure you have plenty of food. Watch the store flyers closely to look for sale prices on your family’s favorite items. Remember to store all food properly!

Create Snack Baskets

Sometime it doesn’t matter how well you store your food, it still goes quickly! This isn’t due to waste or improper storage but more so to hungry little kids. Children love looking through the pantry to find all of the yummy snacks! Before you know it that box of cookies you just bought yesterday is already gone.

Start creating snack baskets for each child in your family. Everyday put items in the snack basket that the child can have. If he or she eats all the snacks at one sitting that is it for the day, they will have to wait till breakfast, lunch or dinner to eat again. Creating snack baskets allows you to set out what the kids can and can’t eat that day and help your groceries last a little bit longer.

How do you make your groceries last longer? Let us know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Ruin Your Grocery Budget

Learning how to reduce your grocery bill is one of the fastest ways to start fixing the entire family budget. Since groceries are not a fixed expense like your mortgage or rent, it’s possible to tweak your shopping habits in order to reduce the amount you’re spending on groceries each week/month.

If staying on budget or lowering your grocery budget is your goal, you’ll want to read on to learn how to fix your bad habits. Are you committing any of these grocery shopping faux pas?

Here are 10 Ways to Ruin Your Grocery Budget:

10 ways to ruin your grocery budget and how to avoid these mistakes.

 

1. Go to the store several times each week.

I’m guilty of this one more times than I’d like to admit! Going to the grocery store more than once a week can be a real grocery budget killer. After all, going to the store for “just a few things” almost always means you’ll be picking up more than “just a few things” because admittedly, grocery stores have enticing sales and products. So by sticking to shopping once a week you can avoid many impulse purchases, especially if you’re prepared with a list and meal plan.

2. Go to the store around meal times or when you’re hungry.

One of the golden rules of grocery shopping on a budget is to never shop when you’re hungry. Trying to stick to a grocery list when you’re hungry is nearly impossible. Soon you’ll find bags of chips or expensive granola bars hopping into your cart because they’re easy to eat as soon as you get to the car. The best course of action is to shop right after you’ve eaten a good size meal.

3. Don’t plan a menu

I’m a firm believer that planning a menu each week is a big key to sticking to your budget. When you have a plan laid out, you will know exactly what you need to buy at the grocery store in order to execute the meals you have chosen. That way, if something jumps into your cart that isn’t needed, it’s easier to put it back in order to stay within budget because you know that your eating needs are met with your meal plan.

Need an easy way to menu plan? See how I put our menu planning on autopilot.

4. Never use a list

Going hand in hand with planning a menu, creating a grocery list is crucial to staying within your budget. I keep a running grocery list on our fridge so I can write down pantry items that I need to replace as soon as the item runs out. As I’m planning our menu for the week, I grab the list from the fridge and jot down everything I need to buy to complete each meal. Sometimes my list is small because I have many items already on hand in the cupboards thanks to some sales in previous weeks on staples.

You can see my Basic Pantry Staples list here.

5. Don’t bother looking at the store flyers for sales.

Reviewing the grocery store flyers and noting what is on sale will save you tons of money. Especially when you buy the sale items and then plan your menu around them. Over time as you regularly buy items that are on sale and stock up on them as much as you can, you’ll always be eating “cheap” food, and your grocery budget will be very happy.

6. Take the kids with you.

Kids can be pretty good negotiators (at least mine can!), especially if you want to be as fast as you possibly can in the grocery store. Sometimes it’s really tempting to buy them something (anything!) just so they’ll be quiet. Even if it’s something little, it all adds up and may not be a good healthful choice.

7. Don’t take inventory of what you already have on hand.

Buying unneeded items can be wasteful. Especially if they’re fresh items that can spoil. Take a few minutes to review what you already have in your pantry and fridge and you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

8. Don’t pay attention as the cashier is processing your purchase.

Put down the trashy magazine and pay attention to what is being rung through. I was recently charged for two watermelons when I had only bought one. Thankfully, I noticed and it was fixed right away. But imagine if each week there was an error on your bill, that could add up to hundreds of dollars that were literally spent on nothing. So do yourself a favour and pay attention as the cashier is processing your purchase. Also, if you bought items on sale, watch closely, you may get several items for free if they scanned wrong since many stores have a scanning code of practice.

9. Throw the food into the fridge without any rhyme or reason.

By taking the time to carefully put your perishables away and dividing items you bought in bulk into smaller portions will save you money in the long run. Washing and storing produce properly will make it last longer in your refrigerator. Make sure you have designated spots for each item so you can easily find your purchases, or your grocery budget will be wasted on moldy, forgotten items.

10. Throw away leftovers.

Not a fan of eating leftovers? Well, that will have to stop if you want to lower your budget! If you’re throwing away leftovers, you’re almost literally throwing your money in the garbage too. There are plenty of recipes online that can help you reinvent leftovers into something tasty. Maybe it’s not that you don’t like leftovers, maybe you simply forgot they were there. One solution is to put leftovers in clear containers with a dated label so you can visually see what’s there.

Check out these 7 Ways to Make the Most of Leftovers.

Are you guilty of any of these grocery budget mistakes? I know that I am. It’s constantly a work in progress for me! But knowing where you’re making mistakes is half the battle to getting your budget on track. Knowing the ways in which we’re ruining our grocery budget allows  us to focus on one area to fix at a time. Baby steps 🙂

7 Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Budget

Grocery shopping on a budget doesn’t have to mean you only eat rice and beans each day. You can have a wonderful well rounded diet of fruits, vegetables, meats and great sides when you plan accordingly. While I always recommend you menu plan to help stay on top of your pantry and freezer supplies as well as your shopping list, these tips are really where the savings come into play.

7 Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Budget

7 Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Budget. Grocery saving tips

Make a list before you shop.

Going into a grocery store without a list is setting yourself up for failure in the biggest way. A list is vital to making sure you are grocery shopping within your budget. Divide your list by aisles and categories. If you know approximate or sale prices on items, list those to the side so you can easily track your expenses while you shop and verify prices are as stated in sale advertisements.

Keep a calculator on hand while you shop.

As mentioned before, sale prices are important when grocery shopping on a budget. Make note of what is suppose to be on sale and watch not only for that price to be reflected on store shelves, but also at the checkout counter. (If the price is wrong at the checkout, you may be eligible to use the Scanning Code of Practice.) For all other items on your list, use the calculator you have on hand to make sure you aren’t going over budget. Make notes as you add things to your cart and add up your purchases as you go so you know when you may need to choose a different size or brand because you are nearing your budget limits.

Utilize coupons as much as possible.

Using coupons is a pretty obvious suggestion coming from Simply Frugal. But while using coupons is a great way to save money, it can also cause you to spend more when you are buying things you don’t need or won’t use. Use coupons only on items you would normally buy, and always verify pricing on generic equivalents to make sure you are getting the ultimate best deal possible.

Related: Cash-Back apps are a great way to save too!

Shop sales and loss leaders when applicable.

Sales are a great way to save money on big purchases like meats and of course produce. There are things called loss leaders often in sales. These items are usually far below regular price and are designed to entice you to make a purchase in a store. They believe if they entice you with a low price on one item you are more likely to purchase additional items. These can often be great prices to stock up your pantry for things like pasta, sauces, soups and other pantry staples. Also consider stocking up on seasonal sale prices of meat and produce to freeze or can for off seasons.

Stick to the outside rim of the store.

It is commonly known that the outer rim of the grocery store is usually the healthiest and cheapest. These areas will include fresh produce, fruits, dairy, meats and similar items. Interior aisles will have pantry staples, but also unnecessary expenses like candies, cookies and chips.

Sign up for rewards clubs and programs.

Many grocery stores offer reward programs and club promotions. These can give you high value coupons specifically for their store, points that you can redeem for free products, great VIP day discounts and insight on upcoming sales. They are a great way to be in the know and get rewarded for shopping at a favorite store.

Buy in bulk when possible.

Bulk purchases are often a great way to manage grocery shopping on a budget. Just make sure to check the unit prices to make sure they really are cheaper to buy in large quantities versus individual packages. Read here to learn how to buy in bulk to actually save money.

These tips for grocery shopping on a budget are great reminders for how to make the most of your money in the grocery store.

I’d love to hear your biggest tip for saving money at the grocery store. Let us know in the comments below!

10 Tips For How To Save Money On Food

There are some expenses that just aren’t going to go away, and food is one of them. This list of ideas will help make your grocery budget go further.

10 Tips For How To Save Money On Food

Produce your own food.

This can be growing a vegetable garden or even raising chickens in your back yard for eggs. Producing your own food sources is a great answer to how to save money on food. This usually takes a small up front investment and some time to make work, but is well worth it in the long run for a better grocery budget.

Shop with coupons and sales.

This obvious answer has to be on the list because one of the best tips for how to save money on food is to clip coupons and shop sales at your market or grocery store.

Stockpile seasonal items.

When you find a fruit or vegetable you love and know is only available during a specific time period, stocking up and freezing or canning for future use is a great way to save money in your food budget.

Menu plan consistently.

Nothing kills your grocery budget like take out or last minute ingredients for a fast meal. Take the time to menu plan consistently utilizing what you already have on hand and sales at the time to build a low-cost menu everyone will enjoy.

Make more vegetarian meals.

For most meals, the meat is the highest priced item by far. Make more vegetarian meals and skip the meat in your menu plan at least 2-3 days each week.

Use low-cost staple items as a base.

Don’t forget about things like dry beans, brown rice, potatoes and pasta as the base for many hearty and healthy meals that are full of nutrient-dense vegetables, healthy fats,and the occasional lean meat.

Make your own and avoid processed foods.

Instead of buying cake mixes, ready-made bread or even cookies make your own. Avoid all of the nutritional bombs in processed foods and save money by making your own.

Barter with friends and neighbors.

If you don’t have time for a garden but have a friend or neighbor that does, it’s time to barter. Offer cleaning, babysitting, mending or other services in exchange for fresh produce from their garden.

Plan for leftovers.

Make your menu in a way that each meal always has enough leftovers for two meals or at least, a smaller lunch portion the next day for every family member.

Avoid food waste.

If you have just a bit of vegetable or roast left that isn’t enough for a meal, toss it into a freezer bag and save for future stews or soups. Use the chicken bones from a roasted chicken to simmer and create your own chicken stock. Toss vegetable peels and bits of vegetables into a stockpot and simmer for a practically free vegetable stock.

These tips for how to save money on food are easy, practical things anyone can do on a regular basis to keep their food budget low.

What are some things that you do to save money on food? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

When it comes to menu planning, these budgeting tips are going to transform how you view your grocery budget. There are so many simple tricks to help you create amazing meals for your family on a budget, and this post has some of the best. With a few simple tricks up your sleeve, you can provide your family with delicious meals without breaking the bank.

7 Budgeting Tips For Menu Planning

Ask your butcher for budget cuts of meat. Not only can you watch for the sales on meat at your market or grocery store, but you can talk directly to the butcher. Sometimes they will have meat that isn’t bad, but can be sold at a fraction of the regular price for some reason. End pieces of whole rib eyes can be found at low prices because they aren’t enough to be a “steak”. Ask for these bits and then cube for stews or braised beef dishes. Sometimes meat isn’t out of date, but close to it and the butcher has to mark it down. Grab those mark downs and cook in advance simply then freeze to add into other menu items later.

Use your slow cooker. Slow cooker recipes are one of the best ways to stick to your menu plan as well as stay in budget. One of the best budgeting tips is to utilize those budget cuts of meat and tenderize them for amazing meals in your slow cooker. A beef roast or whole chicken can feed your family several meals for half the price, but may not be as convenient or easy to cook fast. Put into a slow cooker and let it do the work for you.

Utilize your own garden if possible. If you have time and space to have your on garden, this is a huge savings for your menu plan each week. Learn to can or freezer excess produce for future use, and utilize this year round in your weekly menu plans.

Build around low cost staple items. For most this means picking up things like dry beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes that are low cost but can stretch a meal further. While many would find this unhealthy, if you combine this with nutrient-dense vegetables and limit your high-fat proteins you truly can eat healthy. Focus on whole grains when possible and limit the regular potatoes, corn and white rice.

Buy what is on sale and match with couponed pantry items. For sales at your market or grocery, take the time to check your coupons and shop using coupons on sale items to get twice as much value toward your menu plan.

Create your menu with what you have on hand first. One of the best budgeting tips for menu planning is to start not with what you want to buy, but what you already have on hand. Look at your pantry, freezer and refrigerator for great starts to a meal. Utilize your on-hand items and limit your week to week expenses as much as possible focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Utilize one item multiple ways. One of my favorite ways to save money is to cook dry beans in my slow cooker. Dry beans can be seasoned and eaten by themselves, added to soups or chili, refried to make dips or put into burritos. This simple item can be used multiple ways for very cheap.

Take advantage of our favorite budgeting tips for menu planning that will stretch your budget even further.