Planning a menu each week can be such an annoyance. Some weeks, it would take me hours to come up with enough meals for the week because I’d always try to add variety with new meals. I would scour cookbooks and Pinterest for new recipes and get distracted trying to decide if something sounded good or not. Or whether or not the rest of the family would eat it… So, one thing that has helped us to cut our grocery budget was to create a short, go-to recipe list! I mean, we eat the same basic things for breakfast each day, why not apply the principle to dinner too?
Narrowing our meal ideas to only 20 options has made meal planning a breeze and has saved us so much money. It also reduces food waste, because I know I am making food that we all enjoy. These meals are a mix of quick & easy meals, recipes that are great for leftovers, and some a wee bit more complicated because they’re just so tasty.
So, if you want to finally stop wasting money on groceries, I’d encourage you to grab some inspiration from our go-to recipe list. Here’s what we’re eating, aside from leftover nights and super simple meals (like tomato soup & grilled cheese):
- Tacos – I find that one package of ground beef is enough for two meals for our family. I’ll often make it stretch further with a can of baked beans.
- French Toast – We often like breakfast meals for dinner. I especially love to make a big batch of French toast because I can freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts.
- Instant Pot Beef Stew – This is so good! Since the recipe doesn’t call for potatoes, I like to serve it over mashed potatoes.
- Spaghetti – Lately I’ve been browning ground beef, adding it to the slow cooker with a jar of pasta sauce, a bit of water and a sprinkle of beef bouillon powder.
- Hamburger Soup – This freezes well and is enjoyed every time I make it.
- Slow Cooker BBQ Sauce Pork Chops – Place pork chops over sliced onions in a slow cooker, then pour your favourite BBQ sauce over top. Cook on low for about 4 – 6 hours. Serve with rice or potatoes and steamed veggies.
- Sausage and Potato Bake – Cut up potato, carrots, sweet potato, peppers, and farmer’s sausage and place in a big 9×13 baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and a dose of oregano, salt & pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.
- Roasted chicken – It no secret that a roasted whole chicken can stretch for many meals. I’ll often buy rotisserie chicken for a super fast dinner with veggies and potatoes.
- Balsamic beef roast – This is another meal that stretches far or is great for feeding a crowd.
- Quiche– a satisfying meal
- Instant Pot Honey Sesame chicken – Delicious served with rice and veggies!
- Creamy chicken soup – This is another delicious soup that freezes well!
- Chicken pesto stuffed shells – My husband’s favourite meal that actually isn’t that hard to make! Great freezer meal too.
- Ramen Vegetable stirfry – I buy the healthy ramen noodles from Costco. A great way to use up vegetables that are needing to be used up.
- Meatballs– These are so versatile and the recipe make a ton so you’ll have plenty for the freezer.
- Chicken in basil sauce – One of our “fancy” dinners that we enjoy.
- Fettuccine Alfredo – An indulgence we don’t mind occasionally since we need to fatten up the kids. 😉
- White Chicken Chili – A good twist on classic chili that again, freezes well.
- Chicken & Asparagus Pasta Bake – So easy to put together. Also works well with green beans.
- Slow Cooker Barbacoa – Leftovers are so good over salad, in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more!
There you have it! The 20 family dinner recipes that have managed to cut our grocery bill!
Does your family have a go-to recipe list? What are your favourite meals?
If you’re looking for even more kitchen/meal organization, check out the Grocery Conqueror Printable Kit. The Grocery Conqueror Printable Kit contains over 50+ pages to help you organize your kitchen, streamline your meal planning and grocery shopping tasks. Ultimately enabling you to create a more organized kitchen, thus saving you money on your grocery bill.
Looking for another valuable use for that KitchenAid stand mixer? How about shredding meat? It works so well to shred some cooked chicken breasts, boneless pork butt, or beef roast. If you have ever tried to “pull” a pork shoulder with forks, you know this can take a bit of time. With the stand mixer and the normal beater attachment, you can shred a pound of cooked chicken breast straight from the slow cooker in under 30 seconds! (Tip: You can also use a hand mixer!) Take a look at this handy kitchen hack:
Here’s how to shred meat in under 30 seconds:
1. Take your meat straight from cooking and toss it in the mixing bowl.
2. Make sure the beater attachment is in place.
3. Raise the bowl and hit a low power setting for about 30 seconds.
4. Enjoy your shredded meat!
So you no longer need to hesitate to make recipes like chicken enchiladas, pulled pork, or beef barbecue because of this tedious job again. If you don’t have a KitchenAid, here is another great reason why you might just want to take the plunge!
I think it’s safe to say that the slow cooker is one of my favourite kitchen tools. After all, it cooks delicious meals with minimal effort! Not to mention it’s great to use in the summer when you don’t want to heat the house up.
Slow cookers are generally known for their skills at creating delicious stews and tender meats. But your slow cooker can do so much more! Read on to discover five unique ways to use your slow cooker.
It’s possible to make your own yogurt in a slow cooker! This is something that I’d love to try in the near future since I think it could save quite a bit of money. Try the Homemade Yogurt recipe from Mom on Time Out or try the Greek Yogurt from One Good Thing by Jillee.
Let the gift giving begin! You can easily make candles for gifts (or yourself) in your slow cooker! I think this is a great way to turn those candles that no longer burn because the wick is gone, into new candles. Learn how to make candles in your slow cooker over at A Year of Slow Cooking.
Make Baked Potatoes
I automatically assume that successful slow cooker recipes have to include some sort of liquid. But this slow cooker baked potato recipe proves me wrong!
I think this idea is genius. Make a loaf of bread in your slow cooker! This is great for the summer months when you don’t want to heat up the house! Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day shows you how to make a loaf of artisan bread in the slow cooker!
As seen from the unique slow cooker ideas I posted above, you’re not limited to dinner-type meals in the least. So, of course dessert can be made in a slow cooker! Why not try these Triple Chocolate Brownies from Martha Stewart?
Make French Fries
My daughter loves homemade French fries and I think this French Fry recipe from Practical Stewardship just made my life a whole lot easier!
Isn’t the slow cooker a neat appliance? What unique things have you made in your slow cooker? Will you be trying any of these ideas?
It is no secret that Ramen Noodles are a staple in every college student’s pantry. However, ramen noodles are not just for the college student, bachelor, or preschooler anymore. I have even found some organic brown rice ramen by Lotus Foods at Costco that we love, making it a healthy choice for our family! Even if you buy the budget friendly packs of ramen, there are quite a few healthy ways to spice up a package of the fried noodles.
How to Turn Ramen Noodles Into a Healthy Meal Idea
Ditch the Packet
Some people prefer ramen noodles simply because they are cheap, cheap, cheap. Others prefer them because of the beef, chicken, or oriental flavor that comes in the package. While that packet is full of flavor, it is also packed full of sodium and MSG. Make your meal a bit healthier, by ditching the packet, and adding your own herbs and flavoring. Boil the pasta in low sodium chicken or beef broth, and throw in some pepper and herbs, like thyme, or oregano.
Use Uncooked, as a Topping
That’s right. You can eat Ramen without cooking them, prior. Dig the recipe for your favorite Asian inspired salad out of your recipe box, and simply swap out the Asian noodles for Ramen Noodles. Just discard the seasoning packet and break the noodles up. Add them to your salad just before serving.
Instead of opting for burgers and fries, pull out a package of ramen, and some fresh or frozen veggies. Cook up chicken or beef pieces, and throw some in some veggies, with a bit of low sodium soy sauce. Meanwhile, cook the Ramen in either plain water, or low sodium beef or chicken broth. Once it is all done, simply toss it all together, and grab a bowl and a seat.
Make a Hearty Soup
There is nothing like a hot bowl of hearty soup, on a chilly evening. Gather the ingredients for your favorite soup, and toss it all in the slow cooker. When there are just a few minutes left of cooking time, add a packet or two of Ramen, minus the flavor packets, and you have yourself an easy, healthy meal.
Limit the amount you eat
Even if you dish up Ramen Noodles to be healthier, you still need to limit the amount you eat. Many carbs come from ramen noodles, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Which is why adding them to a salad as a topping or using it as a filler, is an excellent idea.
The great thing about Ramen is that it’s so inexpensive. Once you get rid of the packet and figure out how to make it into the perfect healthy dish, you are good to go.
I’d love to hear how you use ramen noodles! Let me know in the comments below!
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.
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)
If you’re wanting to figure out how to make your grocery dollars stretch even further, try out the 14-day free trial of $5 Meal Plan! If you decide to continue after your trial period, for just $5 a month, they will send you a delicious meal plan where every meal will cost about $2 per person, and in most cases less.
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 or even frozen. Head to a store such as Walmart or Superstore 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?