As our children have gotten older, life has certainly become busier. Couple that with the rise in both their appetite and the cost of eating out, and it has become critical that meals be eaten at home! But how do you manage keeping to a food budget in the midst of life’s crazy busy schedule? Here are a few tips.
Keep the kids’ hunger at bay! Make sure to carry fruit or a hearty snack (think anything with peanut butter!) in the car so that you don’t arrive home with kids ready to ransack the fridge. Keeping them held over with a snack will allow you the sanity time to prep a quick meal.
I often have our meals planned out, but if the day does not go as planned and we are arriving home late, I always have a meal that takes about fifteen minutes to prepare in the freezer or pantry. For our family, it’s Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili in a can. We pour this over pasta and add cheese and onions. A hearty meal in fifteen minutes, and almost all the ingredients can be stored in the pantry or freezer, allowing me to always have them on hand.
Divide & Conquer
With our children eating more and more, the expense of meat is quickly rising. In order to make our dollar stretch, I buy in bulk and then divide and conquer! For example, I might buy two 4-lb roasts. At home, I take these roasts and divide each into two portions, then cut the sections into stew meat. Bagging three of the four into freezer bags, I use the remaining stew meat to create a dish like beef vegetable soup, beef pot pie, or Kentucky burgoo. Any dish that can have less meat and more vegetables or starch will stretch the dollar and increase the proportions.
The real key is planning! When you have a plan established, it’s easier to manage that budget, even if you have to tweak the plan now and then.