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Ten Tips to Plan Meals on a Limited Budget

Here are 10 ways to get started

Create a menu. Make a menu. Decide what recipes you'll make for lunch and dinner. Then, make a list of all the groceries you will need. You will be less likely spend on convenience food and fast food if you have a plan. These tips will help you plan your menu.

Plan your meals around food that is on sale. Look through newspaper inserts, store flyers and online coupon sites for the best deals. You might be surprised at how many great deals are available. You should only buy food that you are going to eat and plan to use it.

Aim to eat at least one vegetarian meal per week. You can get great tasting protein from legumes (beans, lentils and dried peas), as well as eggs, tofu and peanut butter. These delicious meatless meals include Black Bean Couscous Salad and Sweet Chili Tofu Stew-fry.

You should check your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Check the expiry dates on the ingredients and foods you have. What ingredients do you have left over? You can find recipes that include these ingredients and foods.

Get more grains. You can use couscous, pasta, barley, rice and pasta in many recipes. Use them in soups, stews, and salads like the Chicken Bulgur Salad.

Recipes that require a special ingredient should be avoided. You may not be able to find the right ingredient for some recipes. What is the cost of that ingredient? Is it in a small or large package? Is it possible to use it in other recipes? If you will only use the ingredient once, it may not be worthwhile to spend money on buying it. You can leave the ingredient out, or use an ingredient you already have at your home. You might be surprised at the final result. It's great fun to experiment with cooking.

Try seasonal recipes. Seasonal vegetables and fruits are more affordable.

Make sure to save leftovers. Consider how to use leftovers. For Monday's lunch, make chicken sandwiches if you are making roast chicken with vegetables and rice for Sunday night's dinner. Use the bones to make chicken soup on Tuesday. Toss in any remaining vegetables and rice.

Don't forget to make extra. Don't throw away a lot of celery or carrots. Make sure you use it all by making a big pot of soup. Make two batches of lasagna if you have ground beef on hand. You can serve one batch of lasagna for dinner and freeze the second batch in portions that are suitable for eating later.

Find out what your family loves to eat. Ask your family members to share their favorite foods and help you plan menus. This will allow you to search for your favorite ingredients and foods whenever they are on sale.