It’s a myth that you can’t create hearty meals for your family on a budget. In fact, your supermarket is filled with healthy, flavorful, inexpensive foods that won’t take a big bite out of your bank account. Following are five inexpensive foods for a budget.
Beans are often referred to as the “poor man’s food,” and people tend to pass by these flavorful and vitamin-rich staples. Dried beans also can take hours to soak and cook.
But beans are worth your consideration. Depending upon the variety, they’re packed with vitamin C, iron, thiamine — and the list goes on and on. They are loaded with protein and fiber. Plus they’re filling, which keeps you from feeling hungry sooner.
You can eat beans plain or add them to soup or stews in place of meat. Because there are so many types of beans, the recipes you create are only limited by your imagination.
Although you can purchase canned beans that are ready to heat and serve, the bagged, dried varieties are better for you and more economical. Some beans do take hours to cook, but that’s where a Crock-Pot comes in handy. Add beans to your slow cooker, add enough water and set on low. Allow them to cook for six to eight hours, and dinner is ready when you are.
Rice is an inexpensive staple that should be in every pantry. However, buying rice in bulk will save you more over the long run than instant rice. When properly stored, rice has a long shelf life.
Like beans, rice takes time to cook and has to be watched. That’s why it’s worth investing in an inexpensive rice cooker, which can make the chore of cooking a lot simpler.
Although not as cheap as beans and rice, pasta is an inexpensive ingredient that can be added to soups, stews and casseroles to create a budget-friendly meal. Toss cooked pasta with an inexpensive or simple homemade sauce and fresh vegetables, and you have an instant meal. Many of the ingredients for a vegetarian lasagna are quite inexpensive and for a family, a veggie lasagna can cost less than $2 per person.
With all of the health experts reminding us that fresh is the way to go, many people overlook canned tuna. The fact is, canned tuna is a budget-friendly ingredient for casseroles and a lot cheaper than beef or pork. It’s packed with lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. And for a quick lunch, tuna sandwiches on wheat bread can be a satisfying meal. A tuna casserole is one of the least expensive dinners to make and is quick to prepare.
The price of eggs has been on the rise, but they’re still the perfect alternative to pricier meats. Eggs can be used for any meal: An omelet for breakfast, egg-salad sandwich at lunch or frittata for dinner. Eggs contain lean protein, vitamin B12 and riboflavin. One carton of eggs generally costs less than $3 — how much beef can you get at that price?
With these five basic foods, the meals you can create are endless. The first step to budget-shopping for groceries is creating a menu with these inexpensive staples as a foundation. Once you have your shopping list and stick to it, you will see your grocery bill begin to drop. Just remember to skip the impulse buys and other unnecessary extras.