I don’t know about you but if I’m not super careful my grocery budget spirals out of control! We have a family of 6 and my kids eat ALOT! So, what’s a momma to do? Read on to find out how I make tasty $5 meals for our larger than average family!
$5 Meal #1 Strategy
I’ll be upfront here. This is not just a bunch of recipes for $5 meals. Honestly, you can find those everywhere! This is more of a mindset change than anything, along with some great meal ideas.
So, the first thing we need to do is change our mind on what constitutes a great meal. And for cost savings the number one expense is usually meat! Meat can be absolutely outrageous if we use it as the main course, but a great additive. Yes, that’s right, think of meat as an additive.
What does that mean practically? Here’s a great example. Take 1 pound of hamburger, 1 pound of dry beans or rice, BBQ sauce and add everything to a slow cooker or instant pot. Make sure and add 4 times as much water as beans or rice. Cook until tender. Make a batch of fried potatoes and cornbread to go along with it. This meal should have enough leftovers to at least another full meal! Perfect savings of time and money! Read my article on Instant Pot Hacks for Busy Mom’s.
#2 Meal Plan
Yes, I know. Everybody talks about meal planning and it seems so overwhelming! But it really doesn’t have to be. My meal planning is very low-key and super simple. I don’t plan for every day, instead I make a broad, generalized plan. Here’s how.
Think about your month and your family. Do you like big breakfasts or grab and go? Do you like to cook multiple meals a day or eat ALOT of leftovers? Do you like simple things like sandwiches and fruit lasagna and homemade rolls? Then sit down and make your plans.
We shop basically twice a month and I have a printable, editable grocery list that stays pretty much the same but I can also tweak it easily. My goal is to keep the majority of our food in the $5 meals and under range. Do I always succeed? Nope, but we stay pretty close. On average we spend about $600 a month on groceries. If I only spent $5 a meal it would be more like $450/month. Of course I also buy coffee beans and snacks so overall my meals all basically come in under $5! Read my Mealtime Strategy for the Busy Mom!
$5 Meals #3 Plan ahead
This goes somewhat along with meal planning but it’s all about being prepared. Sunday for example, is so easy to grab a to go dinner and blow a huge amount of your food budget. While we do eat out occasionally it is a very rare treat. The other day we splurged for pizza and ice cream..cost $25. It’s not a huge deal if we do that once a month, but every week…ouch!
So, plan ahead for trips and busy days. Have food that can be popped in the instant pot or slow cooker and ready when you get home. It saves so much stress and money!
#4 Buy less expensive proteins
Just like using meat as an additive, not the main course, it really pays to buy less expensive proteins. How do you do that? One great way is to buy cheaper cuts. Read my article on $5 Meat to Make 3 Meals (for my family of 6). Some awesome ways to do that are buying hamburger instead of steak, chicken quarters instead of breast and canned salmon versus fresh.
Another way to eat protein but inexpensively is to add in things like natural nut butters or cook some meat and shred it as salad or baked potato toppings!
#5 Use Foods that are filling & cheap!
This one is so easy! One of the best ways to make $5 meals is to make sure the main part of your meal is filling and cheap! How do you do that? Don’t start opening a bunch of cans of corn or green beans! Instead use brown rice or dry beans (cooked of course hehe), or a large salad. Potatoes are another great option for cheap and filling. I do limit my personal consumption of potatoes but I don’t eliminate them! They’re full of vitamins and delicious!
#6 ($5 meals tip) Homemade is usually cheaper
We all know homemade is tastier but it’s almost always cheaper. I have people tell me all the time it’s not cheaper to make homemade 🙈 but it really is! The problem is they will figure the cost for homemade cookies up by adding up a bag of flour, a dozen eggs, a pound of butter, ECT instead of realizing how many batches you can make with all that stuff! As a general rule, most food items I buy are multitasking. I don’t buy butter just for cookies, I use it in multiple things. Homemade biscuits probably cost me 30 cents a batch, versus $2 for canned. That’s not even touching on how much healthier mine are!
This article is wayyy too long, so I’m going to close here! Check out how I redid our grocery budget last year HERE