How to Maintain a Food Budget and Time with the Family
Life is certainly amazing. One minute you are bored out of your mind trying to find something to do on summer break from high school and it seems like the next minute you are getting on with life, getting married, and having a child. The first child is wonderful and although it takes a lot of your time, you still seem to have some to spare. However, things significantly change with the addition of extra children. We, as parents, are so devoted to our children that it can be very difficult to find time to handle it all. Although it is seemingly impossible to juggle everything in your life, there is one aspect that is easy to accomplish if you have just a bit of knowledge to back you up. The food budget and finding time to prepare healthy meals is within your reach.
Skip the Easy
It is so easy to simply go into a store and buy whatever you feel like. The problem however comes in when you arrive home only to realize that all you bought was a bunch of easy to prepare processed junk food that will in no way nourish your entire family. Large family frozen meals may be an easy fix on occasion, but they should never be used all the time. They are packed with preservatives and salt that have absolutely zero nutritional value. People are often frightened of the thought of preparing a meal from scratch, but with all of the recipes out there, the process is easy.
It is a common misconception that healthy food is really expensive. It is true that you can blow your budget if you only shop in the organic food section of the super market, but if you are willing to do a bit of research as to what is in season, the fresh produce department can be your best friend. Sales change weekly in most stores and as the freshest produce becomes available the store often passes that savings on to their customers. The added bonus about fresh produce, apart from the obvious health attributes, is the fact that when you adapt your body to eating fresh foods, it takes less food to actually fill you up, so in reality you end up saving money.
Make a Plan
It is important to have a list in hand when shopping. We are all human and therefore subject to the impulse buys that can ruin our budget. Study the local circulars of the stores you shop in and make your weekly menu based on the sales available. Look up recipes that are based on the sales of that week to ensure that all meals are covered. Pick out recipes that have some of the same ingredients to further stretch your budget. In addition to the list, leave room to jot down the price of each item so that you can keep track of what you are spending while in the store. It is also important to remember that the use of coupons whenever possible will give you a bit of an edge as well.
Make Large Meals
It is tempting to only buy what you need for the meal that you are fixing it for. That way there are no leftovers and cleanup is easier, but you are doing yourself and your time a bit of a disservice. It actually takes just a bit longer to prepare a little more food during the preparation process. Making a lot of food as opposed to a little ensures that everyone gets enough to eat, but it also gives you some time advantage by making a way to have a leftover night throughout the week. If you prepare your meals with more leftover, you will find that around the 3rd day you will have enough leftovers to make up an entire meal. Even if you have people that claim they do not eat leftovers, sometimes it is the reheating process that makes them not as good as fresh. Skip the microwave and heat leftovers up slowly in the oven and you will have far less apprehension from the rest of the family members on leftover night.
Preparation of large meals also does not have to be limited to the standard offering of a protein, vegetables, and starch either. Soups and stews are among the best ways to utilize some of the tougher cuts of meat and use up some of the odds and ends that are left from other meal preparation. These types of meals can even be made in very large batches and frozen to be used at a later date.
When preparing food for a family it is vital that you make sure that the food is healthy, but also that there is time left to spend with those that you love. These tried and true techniques make the budgeting and food preparation easier than ever and you will also know that all of the food your kids are consuming is wholesome and good for them.
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