Staying home to eat is one of the most cited sources for cutting down on your spending. The more you eat at home, the more you can save in the back is the theory. One reason may families end up dining at restaurants and fast food joints is due to a lack of time in their busy schedules to actually prepare a home-meal. This excuse is a poor one these days as there are many new recipes and resources for creating healthy, affordable, and time-saving meals at home. With a little pre-planning and a family effort, you can cut your dining out expenses drastically and enjoy more family time at home around the dinner table.
Here are 5 healthy and cheap meals you can make even when you are busy courtesy of budget-meal creator and 30 minute meal expert, Rachael Ray:
Pot of Vegetable Soup
Vegetable soup is a great meal that can be made in a larger quantity and easily reheated for the next day or frozen for another time. Vegetable soup is a healthy choice and you can add any of your favorite veggies to suit your taste or add chicken, beef, even turkey. Ideally, you can turn out a vegetable soup with leftovers to prevent waste. Use fresh or frozen ingredients depending on the season.
Salads are a great way to build a healthy meal on the cheap. You can visit the local farmer’s market or food co-op to get the freshest selection of vegetables and the other elements of a great salad. This is a great meal idea for families as salads can be individually designed to suit the family member’s taste. Provide a salad bar-type set up with fresh lettuce, spinach, vegetables, tomatoes, leftover ham, hard-boiled eggs, and whatever else is waiting in your pantry. You can pre-cut the vegetables and other ingredients the evening before you plan to eat so it will be crisp and easy to assemble at dinner time. Here is a quick vegetable salad idea that can be eaten as a meal or served as a side.
Pizza is not only a budget-friendly meal idea; it is also a popular one with the family. You can use what is your pantry to make homemade dough any time and then top it with your favorite vegetables, meats, and cheeses. To get even more creative, make personal size pizzas that your family members can top to their own taste. Leftovers can be a great snack for the next day.
Pasta is often the go-to meal for those without time because it’s easy to prepare and you can make a lot for a little bit of money. Here is an idea for vegetable pasta that is equally delicious as it is nutritious. You can make extra quantities to heat up for the next day’s lunch or dinner.
Fish is recommended for a regular diet as it offers many benefits for good health. Many people resist eating fish because it tastes too – well, fishy. One fish that is easy on the wallet and easier to prepare is tilapia. It is a tender white fish that doesn’t come with the fishy aftertaste. You can buy frozen filets and defrost in the refrigerator during the day while you are at work. Pop the filets in the oven with a little butter and lemon juice for 15-20 minutes and its ready when the filet turns white. You can serve with fresh steamed vegetables. Spice up your new favorite fish with Rachael’s ideas for tiliapia.