Assemble a Family Dinner For Under $10? Yes. And Here Are 5 Suggestions To Make It Healthier

Winter squash is easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

Winter squash is budget-friendly in season, easy to prepare and a good source of vitamins A and K

by donR May 5, 2016

Cooking wholesome meals on a limited budget can be challenging.  By “wholesome” we mean the meal satisfies the nutritional needs of family members. The $10 meal price is calculated by keeping  the cost of the main ingredients under $8 and simply add $2 for the pantry items like flour, condiments, planned-overs, and spices.

So, if at the end of the month, you have spent, on average, $10 per main meal and have eaten a rainbow of whole foods, you deserve a “Gold Star” and are welcome to share your ideas with the rest of our audience!

Now, here are the top five suggestions made by people attending our classes and presentations.

  • 5.  Plan your meals for maximum nutritional value. By planning to buy frequently used foods in bulk, like brown rice, you get better nutritional value at the same price as white rice. On the other hand, for food that is seldom used, buy only what’s needed for your meals to replenish your pantry which keeps waste at a minimum.  see meal planning
  • 4. Grow or glean fruits and vegetables, preserving some for future meals. Think 4 X 4 garden
  • myplate3. Control portion sizes using the “choose my plate” guidelines. We often eat more than needed for optimum nutrition.Read more about portion sizes and you may be surprised at our suggestions. Like serving dinner on smaller plates,
  • Cook-In with friends.

    Cook-In with friends.

    4.Plan to gather with friends and cook once for several meals using inexpensive proteins like bulk lentils, boxes or sacks of local vegetables and value packed fruit. 50 lb sacks of onions are 20 cents per lb in season and you can divide them with friends. You not only save $$$$, but time and energy. The cook-ins are just plain fun.

    picture of apples in trees

    Apples are nutrient-rich and easy on the budget.

    5. Choose budget-friendly natural ingredients like dry beans, brown rice, make-it yourself soup stock  and whole wheat home-made bread . When you choose ingredients that look like real food, know the source, and prepare food properly, you are better assured that the meal will be wholesome.

We  believe the real key to keeping food costs within your family budget and serving more whole foods lies in how much planning your family does and how your pantry is stocked. Stay tuned as we feature several discount markets and show how we spent $50 for the main ingredients and assembled a dozen different family meals.