Good planning is the key to low cost meals

Feeding a family is a continual and costly process and keeping a lid on costs to provide nutritious low cost meals should involve all family members. Meal choices that based on a budget can be tricky, so build in some planning, make an effort to shop for specials and buy in bulk.

If you plan the menu for every meal, have the necessary ingredients in stock and allow enough preparation time then a low cost meal is not such a chore. Here are some tips to help the person responsible for feeding the family to provide delicious, healthful, low cost meals:

  1. Understand the eating requirements of the people in your household. Keep in mind the different ages, activity rates and food predilections of the people you plan to prepare a low cost meal for. This way you avoid unnecessary food preparation, waste and general meal-time drama.
  2. Keep a stock of budget staples such as pasta and rice that can form the basis of your family's favorite low cost meals. If, for example, spaghetti is a family favorite, it's easy to make a meat or vegetable sauce to go with a pasta and Parmesan cheese makes a tasty garnish. In no time you have a low cost meal.
  3. Keep your family calendar current and visible so that you have the information available to you that may affect your meal planning and schedules.
  4. Think like a restaurant and try to get family members seated together at meal times. This way you have greater economies of scale for food preparation and efficient use of your time to serve meals and clear away dishes.

The trick is to maintain meal appeal through variety. By all means accommodate those with special dietary requirements, but be sure not to pander to fussy tastes.

Finally, take some time off from cooking by dining out occasionally. Eating out need not be a budget buster, and the welcome break will both give you good low cost meal ideas and break the monotony of daily meal preparation.

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