Being frugal with food purchases can lead to drastic cuts in the family’s grocery budget. While that benefit can be enormous, making the switch also can be difficult. When Mom and Dad both work, one kid has soccer, another has ballet, and everyone is exhausted, looking at a drawer of veggies to be sliced and meat to be tenderized can be daunting. The answer on those harried nights often becomes let’s go out to eat, which really destroys the food budget. Some pre-prepped food cost more at the store but can help busy moms stay frugal by avoiding those last-minute trips to a restaurant.
Frozen Veggie Mixes
Fresh produce is hands-down the best choice in terms of nutrition and texture. The next best thing, though, is to get pre-cut veggies that were flash frozen. At the least expensive level, bags of chopped broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower can cost as little as $1.00. Zap them in the microwave with a little grapeseed oil and basic seasonings, such as rosemary and basil, for a side dish that’s ready to eat in less than 5 minutes. If you want to spend more, check out the pre-seasoned frozen veggies. They sometimes don’t even require removing them from the bag before they are done.
Pre-sliced Chicken and Beef
While these meats do sometimes have filler ingredients, they can be lifesavers if you are pressed for time. These strips of seasoned chicken and beef are refrigerated, so they just need to be warmed. They make the perfect stuffing for burritos or tacos, especially since you can get them with Mexican seasonings already cooked into them. Just warm the meats and put them on the table with taco shells and toppings. Pan-fry the meat with onions and peppers to make fajitas, or toss them in a wok with frozen veggies and soy sauce for a quick stir-fry. These meats lend themselves to all types of casseroles and stove top dishes and can help you to get a sensible dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less.
Pre-Sliced Fruits and Veggies
Buying your veggies and fruits already sliced, especially if they come packaged with a sauce or dressing, is a very expensive way to get in these important foods. They are much less expensive than going out to lunch with your co-workers, however. Almost all grocery stores now have apples and carrots that are packaged in individual bags. When you are packing your lunch in the mornings, you just need to grab a bag of each and make a wrap for a complete, healthy lunch.
Sweet Potato Fries
In many ways, sweet potatoes are a power food. They are packed full of vitamins and minerals and provide the satiation of eating carbs with fewer calories than their white potato counterparts. They also are one of the cheapest vegetables available. Buying precut and frozen sweet potato fries, then, is a splurge, but feeding your children a healthful vegetable is worth it.
Sweet potatoes that are cut into fries cook faster than traditional French fries; they often are done in 20 minutes. The sweetness eliminates the need for salt. Pop the sweet potato fries into the oven while you pan-fry cubed steak and steam some broccoli to create a complete meal for much less than restaurant fare.
About the Author:
Heather Green is a freelance writer for several regional magazines in North Carolina as well as a resident blogger for onlinenursingdegrees.org. Her writing experience includes fashion, business, health, agriculture and a wide range of other topics. Heather has just completed research on online bsn nursing programs and online LPN programs.