The end of the year may be extremely stressful experiences for some people, due to the fact that not only are there a lot of things that must be bought (and given as gifts), but also because it is time to pay various debts.
Unfortunately, there are people who simply cannot make ends meet with what they earn, and this can put them in difficult positions. This having been said, sometimes the best way to get over a difficult moment is to avoid putting yourself in a tight spot, in the first place.
If you’ve found yourself in such a position at the end of 2017, then you may want to consider spending more time developing an efficient budget plan for the coming year.
When it comes to budgeting, one of the more controversial areas that people usually don’t develop good strategies for is food. Developing a great meal plan for a family of three or four people can be extremely important towards a having a happier year, and holiday season.
The biggest misconception regarding meal planning is that is people budget their food, it automatically means that they will eat less, or that they will eat low quality products. In reality, when you plan ahead what you are going to eat, you basically make sure that you buy as much as possible (we’re talking about regular food, not about cheap, low-quality things)
The following plan has been developed with a family of four in mind, and with the total weekly budged of $70. The food is both healthy, as well as delicious, and is suited for all people, regardless of lifestyle.
Please keep in mind that you should make modifications to the menu if you have allergies to any of the products involved, or if you have chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
A delicious meal plan that will feed 4 people for only $70 per week
A lot of active people have taken to learning how to prepare 15 minute meals. Some have even given up going out to eat, as a result of how fast it is now to prepare a meal. Furthermore, this is the cheaper choice.
As a result of this growing trend, the following tips, ideas, and recipes have been chosen in order to be not only cheap and healthy, but also fast to prepare, again, for 4 people.
First of all, you should consider stir frying your meals. A big benefit of stir fried meals is that they are easy to cook, fast, and most recipes contain a lot of vegetables, which can help children grow, and adults replenish their energy reserves for the next day.
While stir frying is relatively cheap, you will have to buy a large pan, or a Wok. However, this is a one-time investment that will save you a lot of trouble and money in the future.
If you don’t want to spend the extra money, then any large pan that you may have lying around should do just fine.
As a side note, you should always look to integrate a new cooking gadget into your monthly budget. There are tools that can make your life a lot easier, without leaving you bankrupt. A great example is a food processor. Buying one of these can help you prepare some delicious sauces for your dishes, and they can also double as blenders for the mornings when you don’t feel like eating a traditional breakfast.
Other welcome additions would be a large mixing bowl, and a fairly large slow cooker. All of these can be easily integrated into a monthly budget, and will help you save money in the long run. This having been said, don’t look for products that have a ton of features. These are expensive and the bells and whistles won’t make the food taste any different. A basic food processor and a regular slow cooker should be enough for all your cooking needs.
Now, let’s take a look at the math of creating a meal plan:
Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home, means that you have to buy groceries for, and prepare 1,095 meals per year. If you take a look at this number, you’ll find that that cooking equipment is somewhat of a necessity.
Aside from the large slow cooker, the mixing bowl, the wok, and the food processor, you may want to also look for a giant electric griddle (which will allow you to make up to 50 pancakes in a matter of minutes).
You should also get in the habit of preparing the dishes in advance, and then freezing them so that you will always something to eat, that can be ready in a couple of minutes.
Another aspect of meal planning that you should pay attention to is how you buy groceries. Most people never actually look at how much they spend on the groceries used to prepare a single meal. If you’re careful about what you buy, and most importantly, how much you buy, you will be able to save up to $100 per month.
If you have trouble keeping track of how much you spend on groceries, or what you need in order to prepare a meal, consider using a financial planning app, and a list planner like Wunderlist. There are a lot of free tools that you can find online, and once you start using them in order to plan your meals, you’ll start seeing great results immediately.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the meal plan that will only enable you to feed four people for only $70 per week.
Meal plan for four people – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Pancakes with bananas;
- Cereal & milk;
- Tomato and cheese omelet;
- Chocolate waffles with peanut butter syrup;
- Peanut butter toast with honey and bananas
Each one of these breakfast dishes is nutritious and cheap to make. Also, they can be made in a couple of minutes and most ingredients can be bought in larger quantities. For example, you can buy oatmeal, cereals, and peanut butter in for a whole month, and leave the rest of the money for the products that have a shorter shelf life.
This one is simple. Just eat the leftovers from dinner. This way you’re never throwing away any food, so you’re not wasting resources.
You should keep in mind to always cook a little more than what you eat, so there will be some for the lunch the next day.
As for recipes, this is where you have to decide what is best for you. There are a lot of dishes that can be made for only a couple of bucks and most will taste just as good when you reheat them for lunch. Also, this is where the wok comes in handy. Consider cooking something like honey siracha chicken, or some spaghetti.
That’s all the meals that you’ll have to prepare in a day. Now let’s look at how your grocery list may look.
Please keep in mind that this list has been made with the recipes above in mind. If you choose to prepare different dishes, the items will vary, which means that the amount that you spend will also be different.
Grocery list in order to feed four people
- Eggs – 1.39;
- Butter – 2.29;
- Milk – 2.99;
- Bananas – .88;
- Siracha – 2.99;
- Cheddar – 2.79;
- Tomato: $1;
- Skinless boneless chicken thighs – $5.99 for a 3 pound bag;
- Marmalade – 2.69;
- Garlic – .99;
- Sesame seeds – 4.19;
- Onion – 1.69 per 2lb;
- Broccoli – 1.99;
- Scallions – 0.99;
Add up the ingredients above and you’ll see that they cost under $33. Add a few other things such as some bread, ketchup, and other ingredients, and you will still have a lot of wiggle room to buy that wok.
Remember that these are just a few of the things that you will buy in order to prepare during the week, however, it should be easy to get an idea of how simple it is to actually plan your groceries ahead, in relation to what you want to cook.
Also, the grocery list will be different each week. Nobody is saying that you should eat the same dishes again and again. Spend a couple of minutes each weekend, discussing with the rest of the family in order to decide what you’re going to cook the following week.
It’s easy to find quick recipes online, and you should always find a few to present as alternatives to the members of your family. After a while, you can start some “traditions”, like Pasta Wednesdays.
In terms of pantry ingredients, make a habit out of buying and storing everything you need for at least one or two dishes. Don’t go overboard with the quantities. You should have enough for only 3-4 meals.
If you want to save even more money, then you can always use coupons, especially when buying ingredients for your pantry, which have a longer shelf life.