Budget Bites for Family Meals Month

Did you know that September is National Family Meals Month? If not, check out our initial blog post on what Family Meals Month means here and find four super-fast meal ideas here.

We know that fast and delicious meals are a must for time-strapped families. We also know that for many shoppers, budget is top of mind. Contrary to popular belief, healthy and delicious shopping on a budget is 100% possible. With just a few tips you can become a savvy shopper.

1. Keep a well-stocked pantry.

Keep your kitchen filled with staple foods that are generally inexpensive. A well-stocked pantry means a good meal is never far away. With the staples listed below you could have chicken with roasted potatoes and vegetables, or oatmeal with milk and fruit, or tuna salad sandwiches, or pasta with marinara sauce, or scrambled eggs and toast — you get the idea!

• Potatoes

• Onions

• Garlic

• Squash

• Broccoli

• Carrots

• Bananas 

• Apples

• Raisins

• Canned tomato

• Beans

• Peanut butter

• Peanuts

• Eggs

• Chicken

• Canned tuna

• Yogurt

• Milk

• Rice

• Pasta

• Oats

• Bread

2. Have some kind of plan.

It can be loose or structured, just so long as you have a plan for when dinner time rolls around. Here are some favorite tips from the Harmons team:

• Have a menu plan: keep recipes, shopping lists, and coupons together to make it easier

• Know what you have. “Shop” your own pantry for immediate savings!

• Clip coupons to get the best price. The Harmons app makes it easier than ever.

• Pack your own lunch for work.

3. Look at the weekly ad and build your plan around what’s on sale and in-season as these items are the best value.

This week’s sales run from Sept. 11 – 17. Here are some meal ideas using current ad items:

Zoodles with Meat Sauce – Zoodles are 20% off this week, and use ground beef ($2.99/lb) in place of the chicken.

Turkey Chili  – Use turkey thighs ($2.99/lb) to make a large pot of this chili and enjoy it for several meals over the week.

Pot Roast – Use sale items boneless rump roast ($3.49/lb) and baker potatoes ($0.33/lb) to make pot roast in your slow cooker or instant pot for a hands-off meal.

4. Learn to love the prep.

Preparing foods yourself will help you save money. Eating out is a huge budget buster, even if it’s fast food. Check out this example:

Family of 4 eating out at common burger fast food chain:

4—$1 burgers + 4 small fries + 4 small sodas = $13.56 (680 calories/person) which is 2 cents per calorie.

Family of 4 Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Dinner from Harmons:

1 lb. chicken thighs + 4 Yukon golds + 2 lbs. broccoli + 2 tbsp. olive oil + 1 lemon + 1 tsp. each salt & pepper=$9.29 at Harmons (505 calories/per person) which is 1.8 cents per calorie.

Other ideas to save money using a little bit of prep:

• Choose whole produce and chop your own.

• Don’t be afraid of canned and frozen produce. They can be cheaper at certain times of year, and frozen is just as nutritious as fresh. Just watch out for sodium and added sugar.

• Buy in bulk. You avoid waste and save.

• Choose plant-based protein at least once a week. Eggs, peanuts, and beans are much cheaper than any meat options.

• Skip soda. It’s a budget and health buster.

• Cook your own grains and beans.

• Freeze food before it goes bad in the back of the refrigerator; this provides quick, easy meals for the future.