When it comes to stretching a dollar, especially for families on a budget, the ingredients you use is important. To a feed a family, or even yourself for that matter, takes planning, and that means knowing which ingredients to buy on shopping day. Here are the top five ingredients you need to add to your shopping list.
Low-cost meal planning means buying things that can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Pasta is one such versatile ingredient. It can stand alone as the main course, or it can be prepared as a side dish. Also, the same pasta base can be paired with any of dozens of sauces many of which are fairly cheap to make. Mixing up the flavors you top it with will allow you to use the same ingredient regularly without growing bored of it.
Dry pasta is relatively inexpensive, and it has a long shelf life, often even lasting for a year or two longer than its best by date. This means that you when you see sales on pasta, go ahead and stock up. It’s a good item to keep in your food storage.
Although it may not seem like a cost-effective ingredient, bread can be prepared a lot of different ways. If prepared properly, it can go a long ways, too. For instance, a French baguette loaf can used for sandwiches, dipping in soup, holiday stuffing, and even for pizza. As with pasta, you just need to experiment and find ways to flavor your breads to prevent food boredom.
You can’t go wrong with a good soup stock. You can use stock or broth in just about everything you cook from soup to sautéed vegetables. You can even make it at home to save more money.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can tie together your favorite spices and then boil root vegetables to create the base. If you do eat meat, you can use the bones off last night’s dinner and boil those to make a tasty bone broth. Depending on how much you make, you then freeze it and use it later in the week for another meal.
You need to think of rice like the way an artist thinks about a blank canvas. You can prepare for a main course with curry, side dish with veggies, and even as a dessert sprinkled with cinnamon. Rice, especially when bought in dry heaps, is an especially cost effective solution for families of a budget.
Finally, a must-have for every pantry is beans. There are so many ways to feed a family without sacrificing taste or portion size. While these may seem a very bland or undesirable ingredient that picky eaters will avoid, there are a lot of ways to dress beans up. Beans go well in burritos, soups, and even pasta dishes. There is also always the reliable rice and beans for busy nights.
Beans are also very nutritious, especially for how inexpensive they are. They are good sources of protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to cutting food costs and still eating the foods you love, your pantry is the best place to start. Take note of what staples you have what you need to buy. Meal plan prior to the next time you hit the grocery store and guaranteed you home with more for less.