I wish I had known these meal hacks when I first became a mom. Lord knows I hated coming up with food ideas in general even more then, and had way less inspiration making budget-friendly meals or snacks! You’ll definitely want to bookmark this list for later, and share it with other meal-challenged moms (like myself). Some affiliate links included.
Meal Hacks for Thrifty Moms (and Snack Tips, Too!)
Plan meals by what’s on sale. If you can, buy extra during the really good sales to save/freeze for later. EXAMPLE: If you know beef and pasta are going to be on sale this week, you might plan spaghetti one night and lasagna another.
Make double (or more) of whatever you’re cooking for dinner, and freeze the second portion for a quick reheat next week, or use it for lunches etc over the next few days. My husband LOVES when I do this, he always knows there’s a quick meal for him to grab whenever he’s hungry.
Make mini versions of anything that makes sense. They’re more friendly for little hands, cook WAY faster, and make everyone feel like they’re getting more to eat. Plus, who doesn’t love mini cornbread muffins, mini meatballs, mini quiches, mini pigs-in-a-blanket, etc? (These are a great idea for appetizers at a party, too.) I LOVE my mini muffin pan, and these silicone mini muffin cups are awesome, too!
Rather than making meat-heavy meals like meatloaf and hamburgers, combine meat with other ingredients (such as pasta or rice) to make it stretch further. EXAMPLES: shepherd’s pie, chili, tacos or taco salad, casseroles, soups and stews, pasta with veggies and meat, etc.
If you’re making a recipe that calls for beans, prepare ahead and get dry beans instead of canned, soaking them the night before. This sounds a lot more time-intensive than it really is, and the bag almost always has instructions on how to properly do it.
Find a farmer’s market or produce co-op or stand near you, and buy fruit and veggies fresh. They’re usually cheaper (though do your research to be sure), and definitely healthier. In some areas, you can even buy bruised (but still good) produce for a significant discount.
Make your own bread. Cheaper, healthier, and wayyy better tasting. OMG. (Psst–you HAVE to try this Easy White Sandwich Bread.) You can even make hoagie bread, just as easy. No, I’m not kidding! It’s brilliant for subs, or just slicing off hot and slathering with butter… No judgement here. *cough*