When you’re cooking for a family it’s easy for the costs to rack up. However, with a little know–how, you can keep the expenses down and make the whole process a lot easier. If you’re looking to find out how to plan family meals, read on. From making a meal plan to expanding your repertoire to include mouth-watering treats, like a gooey vegan chocolate cake, a slow cooker chilli con carne, or a vegan shakshuka here are five tips to help you plan family meals on a budget.
Audit your cupboards
One of the quickest ways to create unnecessary waste is to let things expire. And that waste means money being spent that didn’t need to be. So, before you do anything, it’s good to get into the habit of checking your cupboards to give you a platform from which to start building your plan, especially if learning to cook from scratch.
Rotate items to the front of your cupboards that are near their expiry date and think about how they can be used in the upcoming week. Then, make a list of what you need to buy, rather than just repeating the same shop each week.
Make a weekly meal plan
Planning is the best way to keep you on budget and save money while eating well. Start off by building a template for your meals so that you can use it each week, and that’ll not only save you time in the long run, it’ll save you money too. As you get used to making a plan each week, it’ll become easier and allow you to keep a really close eye on the budget.
Write down your shopping list
You’ve checked the cupboards and written down your weekly meal plan, now it’s on to writing a shopping list! A lot of the work is already done for you courtesy of the meal plan, so it’s just a case of filling in the gaps.
With so many people doing their weekly shop online it’s easy to just repeat last week’s order or click on favourites. But if you write your list down you can simply tick it off as you go… and avoid those tempting, but often not relevant, deals. It’s also worth considering delivered meals, such as Hello Fresh, Eat Zest and meals for the elderly from Wiltshire Farm Foods.
How to plan family meals on a budget
Cook in bulk
Another top tip for saving money on meals is to cook in bulk. That way you’ll end up with leftovers that can be used to make dinner or lunch another day. In addition to that, using your freezer efficiently will help too.
When you’re cooking a meal that can be frozen, you can just pop the leftovers in your freezer and come to them at another time – in the future that’s one less meal you’ll have to pay for in the weekly shop.
This one takes a little time and dedication, but is well worth it in the long run, as the more options you have the more you can keep costs down. That’s because individual ingredients are always cheaper than packet meals, and if you know how to take something ordinary and cheap and turn it into a delicious meal, everyone benefits.
From learning how to cook simple pasta dishes, to turning your hand to delicious and healthy desserts – like a vegan chocolate cake – it’s all about learning recipes and experimenting to find what works.
There you have it: five top tips to help you plan hearty and healthy meals for your family and keep them within the weekly budget. Have a look at my budget recipe section for more ideas on how to plan family meals on a budget.