Money-Saving Make-Ahead Meals

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Money-Saving Make-Ahead Meals
After a long day at work, spending more time in the kitchen is the last thing many of us want to do. This is why batch cooking can be a great way to keep your household fed, without the daily stress on you and your budget. Here are a few tips that can help you make the most of your meals.

First, set aside one day over the weekend to cook. The food you make should yield enough dishes for about a week. Some foods that store well and are easy to make in bulk are: meats, soups and sauces, casseroles, veggies, grains and pasta.

Next, freezing is usually the best way to store and extend the life of your meals. Whenever possible, use freezer bags to save space. Just remember to label the date on there so you can keep track of things.

Now all you have to do is pick out your meal the evening before, put it in the fridge to defrost, and then simply reheat it when you get home. Even if you're not crazy about freezing entire meals, you can still store some key ingredients to your dinners to save money and prep-time.

One last way to maximize your batch cooking is to double your recipe. This is exactly what it sounds like. When you're making things like soups and casseroles, make twice as much and save yourself some work down the line.

Now while the concept is simple, watch out when it comes to spices and seasoning. These don't always react as well when doubling and you can ruin a good meal if you're not careful. For the best results, add your seasoning moderately, or better yet add them in once your meal is thawed and reheated.

So, if you're looking to slash your grocery bill and save hours of prep-time in the kitchen, give these tips a try. You'll see that while cooking in batch only takes a little effort, it can still yield big rewards.

12 Ways to Save Money on Food
See Gallery
Money-Saving Make-Ahead Meals -- Savings Experiment

This advice applies to adults and kids alike. Plan out your shopping list before you head to the grocery store so you’re not tempted by impulse buys, and let any children along for the ride know that you plan on sticking with that list. Small expenditures add up to big money, so try to avoid giving in to any last-minute requests.

If your children continue to insist that you purchase their requested items, then ask them to bring their own piggy bank money. Remind your children they are only allowed to pick something they can afford. It's good practice for grown-up budgeting.

You might not have 20 hours a week to scour multiple publications for the best deals, but if you focus on searching for online coupons, you'll end up saving just as much. Search online for products with the word "coupon" afterward. For instance, if you're looking for Cascade dish soap, search for "Cascade dish soap coupons."

To make sure that you don't waste money on impulse buys, schedule your shopping around paydays. The day or day after you get paid should be your shopping day. Before you go shopping, make a list and make sure it has everything you'll need until the next shopping day on it. Now make a commitment to yourself that you will make what you're going to purchase last until the next shopping day.
Stocking your freezer with frozen meals can help you save money on lunch, since they cost just about $5 each. It can even be a healthier option because they help you practice portion control. Just make sure you're purchasing meals that have no preservatives, and watch out for sodium levels.
Don't waste your time making a sack lunch every day. Instead, prepare a week's worth of lunches on Sunday, and your body will thank you for the extra 10 to 30 minutes of sleep you'll gain each night. If you cook one big meal on Sunday, make sure it's easy to change up throughout the week. Chicken, rice and vegetables all cook quickly and taste great with different sauces and cheeses.
Most families throw away so much food on a weekly basis. A better idea is to turn your dinner leftovers into a lunchtime feast. Apps like BigOven help you use your leftovers to make yummy, new dishes. All you have to do is enter the ingredients you have, and the app will show you different recipe options for your leftovers. You'll save money using food that would have been thrown out.

If you know you have $400 to spend per month on your food budget, that's roughly $100 a week. Whether you shop once or twice per week or use cash or credit doesn't matter as long as you stay within your spending limits. Just be sure to only spend the amount you allotted per week.

Keep your shopping list in a set location so all members of the household can access it. Write estimated prices of the items you are going to buy next to each item on the checklist. It can serve a dual purpose as a price book you can use to guess how much you will spend.
If you've ordered from the kids menu at a restaurant recently, then you know how big the meals are – they're almost as big as meals for adults, and they can cost up to $10 each. If you have multiple children, an easy way to cut down on this expense is to have them share a meal. Not only does this lower the cost of feeding everyone, but it also cuts down on food waste.
Most stores are open late, and without the distraction of announcements, people and maybe even your kids, you can have your own Zen moment. When you are clearheaded, you're more likely to zone in on what you really need and leave out what you really don't. Plus, it's easier to give the cashier coupons without causing any delays for the people in line behind you.

We are a society consumed by all sorts of apps, but if you want to grocery shop, save money and still be lazy, let Favado, an app created by, do the work for you. The app will tell you about items on sale from different stores, and if there is a store coupon or manufacturer coupon, it will also let you know that too. (Of course, you can just use it to scan the weekly ads to keep things simple.) And if you're already glued to your smartphone, it's easy to incorporate into your shopping routine.


Read Full Story