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Make a Healthy Meal Plan and Get Cheap Dinner Ideas

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You may already eat from home and save money doing so, but you know you could do better.

You may think it’s food costs or other outside factors, but don’t get discouraged.

Thinking too hard about it might be the real issue.

In order to stay motivated to eat decent food for less, you have to switch things up in the kitchen once in awhile.

If you click off this post, you’ll miss out on the savings you deserve.

Here’s one tip to feed your family a decent meal and potentially bring the extra for lunch the next day.

Make a Healthy Meal Plan with These Budget-friendly Tips

I’ll admit. I’m a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to eating better on a budget.

However, according to an article from Time.com, most people still eat too much processed foods and a staggering 25% of their calories come from snacks. The article goes on to say, eating from home is not only better for your health, it enhances family time.

Here’s exactly what I do to make a simple meal for less. It’s perfect for super busy people or for those who don’t love cooking:

1. Head to the store and purchase a brown rice and quinoa pasta. I purchased one at Trader Joe’s. It’s a fusilli pasta that costs $2.99 for a 1 lb bag. Pair it with a simple sauce. I recently purchased their artichoke antipasto. I was able to try a sample of it on a Saturday. It takes no time to combine with the pasta for a unique flavor. I’m always looking for a twist on a classic so this is a new favorite.

2. Follow the directions on the package to cook the pasta. It’s not rocket science here. You basically boil water, throw a little salt in the pot and once it boils, you add the pasta.

3. Just be sure not to overcook it. It’s not as forgiving as regular pasta if it boils too long. It can get very mushy and then it’s not edible by my standards. It becomes a sludgy mess. I made this mistake the first time I made it. Shh! I have Italian heritage too so I’m embarrassed to admit that.

4. Once you drain the pasta, add the Trader Joe’s Artichoke Antipasto. It can be served as a side dish or as the main meal. I enjoyed eating it hot for dinner with a few drumsticks I made in the crockpot but I like it cold as well.

I’m not some pro chef but I am a home cook. If you have extra time, you can add in any other ingredients that you would normally have in a pasta salad. Olives, cheeses, diced meats, etc. would go well with this.

Reuse the recipes you like.

Sometimes we make simple recipes like the ones above but can’t readily find them again. Whether you store them digitally, keep them in a recipe binder or get them straight from a book, be sure you can access the recipe again. If you don’t, you just make more work for yourself. Unless you like finding new recipes but then you probably wouldn’t need this post.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to making dinner or other meals. Unless you’re in a complete meal plan rut and your lunch or dinner needs a complete makeover. But if you know that you and other members of the household enjoyed the dish, be sure to make it again.

Whether it’s a few weeks down the road or a whole month, this will help you get a routine and help take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner. Find and keep ones that already take the financial footwork out of the equation. Here are 10 cheap dinner ideas to get you started on a savings default plan.

Turn Pinterest into your Money Saving Machine

I like to store recipes like this on Pinterest. Who doesn’t? I might be a little more deliberate or nerdy than other people though. I designated a board or two just for my own personal meal planning. It’s easy to fall down a black hole of frenetic pinning. Every great recipe seems like a shiny object we have to grasp when in reality, we might not ever make the darn thing. I love a little down time to check out couture fashion, cats chasing lasers and sarcastic sayings. I try not to clutter my boards with randomness. Sometimes I have to fight against doing that even with food.

Here’s how to turbocharge your money saving efforts when it comes to the food category of your budget and use Pinterest as money saving machine. Basically, I see what my week is like. On days where I have more time, I choose something that might take a little longer to make.

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On others days when I’m pressed for time, I find recipes I can make very quickly. I then pin the items I want to eat for the week. Those are the only ones allowed on the board. Even if something in my schedule changes, I at least have an outline to reference. I know what to defrost. What to stick in a crockpot and I make sure I put some of the tasks right on my to do list. It’s easy to just flat out forget.

I find that I waste less food when I’m very organized and write things down. I rotate them out and reuse other recipe pins that I’ve made before. Get more details here on how to use Pinterest for meal planning in minutes.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be hard. Use the tips mentioned above to cut back on food costs. A little planning can stretch your dollars and while keeping everyone well-fed.


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