It’s a fact of life: Most of us find ourselves living on a tight budget at some point or another. It’s pretty easy to scrimp and save when it comes to beauty, skincare and decor, but cutting back on food costs can be tricky, especially when trying to balance good health and good taste. But luckily, a few cost-trimming tricks can take the sting out of eating on as little as $4 a day. With some planning, pluck and ingenuity, you can still eat like a royal — even when your paycheck’s smaller than Prince George’s tiny overalls.
1. Stock Up on Staples: A few key ingredients can go a long way, so take advantage of buy-one-get-one sales at the grocery store and stock up on basics like potatoes, cheese and sour cream. You can have a hot ‘n’ fresh loaded baked potato one day, a baked casserole the next and oven fries the following night. Not bad for a single bag of spuds, huh? (via Pocket Change Gourmet)
2. Learn the Wonders of One-Pot Cooking: You’d be amazed at the amount of flavor and texture combinations you can get out of just one pot. Options for “wonder-pot” or “one-pot” meals are endless, and this Italian pasta dish is a great one to start with. As for expenses, it only costs $1 per serving. This technique can work well with rice dishes too. (via Budget Bytes)
3. Get Savvy About Sandwiches: Who said sammies have to be boring? Packing one for work can save you a ton of cash when your lunch break rolls around. Plus you can put just about any of your favorite foods inside a wrap or between two slices of bread and make a meal of it. There’s no shortage of delicious, budget-friendly recipes out there waiting for you to try. This kale and chicken wrap, for example, runs just $2 a pop. Get online, get creative and see which combinations you crave the most. (via Budget Bytes)
4. Go Meatless: Not only is a vegetarian diet more eco-friendly and generally better for your heart and your checking balance, but it’s also easier to adopt than you might think. Blogs like Gimme Some Oven, for instance, offer an endless array of vegetarian recipes. Giving up meat doesn’t mean giving up fun either! You can still indulge in all sorts of treats, even on a limited budget. (via Gimme Some Oven)
5. Whip Up Some Frozen Dinner Kits: When it comes to eating on a budget, you can avoid the drive-thru but still save both time and money with a little advanced planning. You can prep several days’ worth of frozen dinner kits at a time and space them out so you’re not eating the same thing day after day. It’s a lot of convenience for a little bit of cash, and gives you a huge return on a small investment. (via The Kitchn)
6. Throw Weekly Meal Prep Parties: If you’ve got fellow budget-savvy friends, why not pool your resources and culinary talent? Take turns hosting a weekly meal prep party where everyone can come together to trade pre-made portions of low-cost entrees for the week ahead. That way, you’ve got your meals planned for the week, a flavorful fiesta full of variety in your fridge for the next few days and an excuse to hang out with your favorite people on a Sunday afternoon. (via The Kitchn)
7. Simmer Some Soups: Here’s the great thing about soup: Not only is it easy to make and store, but it also tends to taste better the longer you let the ingredients bond in the fridge or freezer. So whip up some large batches of your favorite soups and enjoy the fruits of your labor for weeks to come. (via Greatist)
8. Love Your Lentils: With three grams of protein in every uncooked tablespoon, lentils pack a powerful punch that doesn’t hurt your bank account one bit. Load up on these versatile bad boys in bulk and prepare to be amazed at all the finger-licking things you can do with them, like make stews, sauces, curries, fritters and more meals than you ever thought possible. Particularly great if you’re cutting back on meat, these nutrient-rich secret weapons can keep both you and your finances in very good health. (via Naturally Ella)
9. Pack Your Pantry With Pasta: As if you needed an excuse to enjoy pasta. Well here’s one anyway: Dry noodles, in moderation, can be a habitual indulgence that’s as kind to your wallet as it is to the pleasure centers in your brain. It can act as a vehicle for plenty of steamed and sautéed frozen vegetables, which are often the stars of two-for-one and three-for-one sales at the grocery store. Olive oil and herbs can make any dish sing, and slight variations can keep your pasta game strong (and not at all boring) for a long time. (via Budget Bytes)
10. Try Your Own Take on Takeout: You may need to kiss those favorite takeout meals goodbye, but only in a manner of speaking. Plenty of our favorite restaurant recipes have made their way online, and you can often save precious dollars making them at home. This copycat chow mein recipe from a popular Chinese takeout chain isn’t just easy, cheap and tasty, but you can also control its fat, calorie and salt content when you prepare it on your own. (via Damn Delicious)
What tricks do you use to enjoy delicious foods on a tight budget? Share in the comments section below!