In today’s belt tightening economy, many families are looking to cut back on expenses by using frugal meal planning ideas. The internet has a plethora of recipes available that are budget friendly. However all meal budgeting should start with taking a look at the families shopping habits.
Shoppers assume they are being frugal by purchasing an item at big box stores. Another common misconception; that buying items in larger quantities equals a cost savings. This is not always the case, and here’s why. Marketing is evident in every aspect of life some is obvious, and some is not so obvious to the untrained or unsuspecting shopper. Notice the changes in coffee packaging or cereal since the economy hit hard times. Does the product package look new? Is the package more appealing to the eye? Was there an offer to purchase that product on a BOGO (buy one, get one) sale? If so, in frugal meal planning the shopper will take a closer look before buying. A recently repackaged popular brand of coffee is now in a more modern looking container, but at closer observation not only has the price of the same brand of coffee gone up but the ounces in the new container is less. These changes represent a higher price increase than the shopper initially realizes. These observations are a crucial part of the frugal meal planning ideas list. Do not be fooled by packaging when making your purchases.
Frugal Meal Planning Ideas
When you are following these frugal meal planning ideas, make sure that you prepare a list of meals that the family prefers to eat on a regular basis. Break the meals down by breakfast, lunch and dinner categories. From there consider the ingredients necessary to prepare each meal. Are there any substitutes that would not be noticeable but could be considered a more frugal purchase? One should jot those items down on a list. Frugal meal planning ideas does not mean that everyone must go without their favorite meals. Frugal meal planning means the cost of producing meals is less but as effectively and efficiently as possible without losing the overall quality of the meal itself.
The next frugal meal planning idea is to determine if any items would serve a two fold purpose. For example, the family enjoys biscuits in the morning with their eggs. A package of biscuits is less expensive based on price-per-piece, when purchased in a larger quantity than a standard size package. The family also enjoys chicken pot pies for dinner once a month. With frugal meal planning, the purchase of the larger portion of biscuits at the lower price would be two fold. First, the cost per biscuit is less. Second, there are many recipes available for homemade chicken pot pies using biscuits as the crust and topping. So the lower cost biscuits have now fit nicely into the frugal meal planning idea budget. They serve two purposes and have been purchased at a lower price per piece. This is still cost effective if the remaining cooked biscuits need to be frozen and saved for a week or two until it is time to prepare the chicken pot pies.
Frugal meal planning ideas also include preparing larger portions and utilizing safe freezing methods for consumption at a date in the future. Many recipes call for small portions of a particular ingredient, when these recipes are a family favorite it is extremely cost efficient to prepare double the typical meal size and freeze the extra portion for later. Ingredients with limited shelf life will not be wasted, and save one night of cooking. For example, lasagna is a favorite, and the recipe includes using fresh garlic. Fresh garlic cloves will last awhile, but not two or three months as a whole clove will rarely be used for a single lasagna. Instead of making one lasagna; make two lasagnas and freeze one for later. This will utilize the whole fresh garlic clove at once, and save a double purchase of the same item in the near future. You need to be comfortable in following these frugal meal planning ideas.
Once the double meals have been planned, the replacement ingredients and double purpose food items have been decided add them to a shopping list. Frugal meal planning ideas include a list as a staple and a keen sense determination. Do not go to the store without a list and do not purchase additional items that are not on the list. Beware the marketing tactics.
The final frugal meal planning ideas require using a calculator and sticking to your budget. Unless the shopper has exceptional mathematical skills, a calculator is a must have for the frugal meal planner. Frugal meal planning requires frugal shopping; be sure to break down each purchase by cost per pound, ounce, or piece to determine which packaging provides the most cost efficient choice.