Can you feed your family on a budget, without resorting to processed, packaged food or worse, fast food? Yes, and it’s easier than you think if you follow these tips:
1. Shop the Sales
Many grocery stores mark down their meats early in the day, or later on in the evening. Keep an eye out (or ask) when your store does this, and hit the aisles then. Also look for marked-down meats — often, prices are lower a few days before the stated best-before date on the package.
Why buy chicken breasts when you can buy a whole chicken for much, much cheaper? The skin and dark meat contain good fats (yes, fats are GOOD for you, even saturated ones) and the fat/protein combo keeps you full longer than just the breast — and way longer than a meal of mac n’ cheese. Plus, you can use the leftover carcass to make soup, and stretch your dollars even further.
3. Explore New Hunting Grounds
A friend of mine used to buy all of his meats at Wal-Mart…until he discovered that his local Food Lion was much cheaper! Ethnic markets can be a good source of quality, inexpensive meats, and if you form a relationship with the people who work there you might be able to swing some deals, especially if you buy in quantity. Which leads me to…
4. Do the Deep Freeze
A deep freezer is a great way to stock up on meat. You can go in with another family or two on a whole or half cow (and get great deals from farmers and/or butchers that way), or collect cheap meats from the grocery stores and save them until you’re ready to get cooking. You can also make soups and stews in bulk (remember that chicken carcass?), and freeze them for later.
5. Brown Bag It
Why rely on cafeteria or restaurant food? What you make at home is always going to be cheaper and more nutritious than what you can buy elsewhere. Focus on foods that keep you going longer…too much starchy and/or sugary foods can leave you hungry faster. Protein and natural fat lasts a long time — and leftover pot roast, chicken, stews, and such make great, easy lunches. Hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and sliced meat or cold chicken makes a fast, easy lunch that tastes great, and fills you up (while providing lots of nutrients to boot!)