Steak on a budget? Get tips for planning meals and developing a monthly grocery budget that includes shopping online for splurges such as steak.
How can you serve your family the very best while getting the most bang for your buck? The best way to save money on groceries is knowing how to cook. And if you and your family like meat—especially steak—you’re in luck. It’s very easy to prepare and to shop for online.
Following are five smart strategies to help plan out meals.
Meal Planning 101
Whether you’re just starting out on your own or have been cooking meals for years, planning your dinner menus in advance does save time and money…primarily because a pre-planned menu helps to avoid impulse spending. It also has a side benefit of helping you eat healthier, because your menu should include well-balanced and nutritious meals. Allowing for leftovers also helps cut down on the amount of food you purchase and decreases the amount of food that is thrown away.
You can plan a week’s worth of meals at a time, or—if you’re ambitious—you can manage a whole month’s worth of meals. The key to getting started is to set a dedicated amount of time aside to create an action plan.
First, make a list of your favorite types of meals and recipes and then match it up with your weekly schedule to see how much time you have each night to cook. Be realistic about your time and don’t try to be too ambitious.
Second, research available online food coupons and a selection of online grocery sites that offer the type of food you’re looking for. Pair up these two tasks and let the online grocery shopping commence.
Inventory Your Freezer
A meal plan can also help you organize your freezer and rotate items more frequently so you can avoid the dreaded freezer burn on old items you’ve long forgotten were there. Meats such as steak, pork chops and chicken can be found online and purchased in value assortments, saving you both time and money. In many cases, the more you buy online, the more money you save, so it pays to do your online homework. Look for assortments that fit your family’s lifestyle: combos can include hamburgers and hot dogs for quick meals, along with strip steaks that can be quickly seared for casual steak sandwiches or as an entrée with a easy-to-make baked potato and tossed salad.
Many online meat retailers shrink-wrap their meat and deliver it frozen so it stays fresher longer than if you simply toss a package of meat from the grocery store into the freezer. This will save you money in the long run. Don’t forget to allow room for a frozen pizza or two, side dishes and other convenience foods for your busiest nights.
Cook in Batches
Making a double or triple batch of anything also saves time and money. It can be a great feeling to have a freezer-to-table meal ready in minutes when you’ve already taken time on a lazy Sunday to bake a few meatloaves or a couple dozen meatballs.
Buy in Season
Fresh produce can be expensive. However, as long as you buy what’s fresh in season, you’ll save money and have the peace of mind that you’re including vegetables and fruits in your meals that are important to good nutrition and part of a balanced diet.
Eating Out Is a Budget Buster
This is where advance preparation really pays off. On days when you’re too tired or not in the mood to cook, having ready-to-thaw meats or ready-made meals will make you feel smart for taking time to plan ahead. Instead of giving in and heading out to a convenient restaurant, you will have great meals on hand to give your budget a break.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean everything has to be cheap. Everyone needs some rewards in life—and rewards can taste good, too!
Real Simple magazine published a food budget article that is worth reading and is excerpted here:
And yet just 32 percent of Americans prepare a detailed household budget, according to a 2013 Gallup survey. Why so few? For one thing, budgets are a bummer. Strict spending restrictions cause you to think constantly about what you can’t buy. “Much like when you’re on a diet and avoiding certain foods, sticking to a budget makes you feel like you’re depriving yourself of items and experiences that you want,” says Brad Klontz, Psy.D., a financial psychologist in Kauai, Hawaii, and a coauthor of Mind Over Money ($11, amazon.com). “As a result, you’re likely to rebel against your self-imposed spending limits and subconsciously sabotage them by making impulse purchases.”
Variety is the spice of life, so it makes sense to try to add variety into your meal planning. Adding in a delicious steak or another favorite type of meat to your meal budget makes good sense. You will feel satisfied and less likely to make unplanned splurges.
You can also look for coupon and credit deals to purchase restaurant-quality meats online. For example, The Tender Filet offers regular online coupons, as well as a credit plan that lets you pay off your purchase in low monthly payments that are budget-friendly. Instead of eating out and paying top dollar for aged beef and marked-up wine and beverages, you can actually save money on the same steaks found in the best restaurants as well as pair it with a quality bottle of wine that you can buy at a significant discount at club stores. Your stomach and wallet will thank you.
Bottom line: give meal planning and online grocery shopping a try. In a short amount of time, you’ll develop a solid assortment of family-approved meals that taste great and will help save money for a rainy day.