Budget Dinners: Save Money With Meal Delivery Kits
A weekly trip to the grocery store can sometimes feel like a love-hate occurrence. After all, who doesn’t love to eat a great meal, but at the same time, that hefty grocery bill can feel like a rock in your shoe if you don’t carefully plan budget dinners.
According to the USDA-recommended spending amount for a “thrifty” but nutritious diet, the monthly food costs for one person is roughly $200. That’s $2,400 a year on just groceries alone and doesn’t even factor in the costs of eating out. For a family of four, you’re now looking at a cost of roughly $550 per month for groceries. And this is a cost-conscious estimate, so the bill will likely be much higher if you aren’t careful with your spending habits.
The truth is, it’s incredibly easy to rack up your grocery bill every week, which can take a huge chunk out of your monthly budget. Though forfeiting good, high-quality food isn’t necessary if you’re looking to start cutting costs and save money on budget dinners and meals.
Let’s take a look at how you can eat well on a budget and save money on groceries without compromising your taste buds.
Stop Wasting Money
One of the surest ways to start saving is by taking a look at how easy it is to waste money and overspend on food. Here are a few common pitfalls that will put a serious damper on your food budget.
#1 Shopping Unprepared
If you’re hitting your local grocery store without some kind of list, you’re bound to spend more and make purchases you wouldn’t have made otherwise. Grocery stores are packed with all kinds of delicious products that are carefully placed to capture your eye.
In fact, our very human nature is exploited by supermarkets to increase their profits. You’d be surprised at the strategies they employ to get you to spend more, so be prepared by having a list, whether it’s through the use of a mobile app or a traditional piece of paper.
#2 Always Selecting Big Brands
Another common mistake shoppers will make that can burn a hole in their pocket is by always going with big name brands instead of generic, store brand alternatives. Many store-brand products are actually very comparable to the name brands you’re familiar with. Many are good quality and at a much lower price, so don’t be afraid to try them out next time you want to whip up a budget dinner!
#3 Letting Food Go Bad
Most people try to buy in bulk to save money on food, and while this is a useful strategy when it comes to some items, such as frozen meat and poultry, this simply doesn’t hold up for everything. In fact, research has shown that this shopping strategy can actually lead to more food waste.
Some of the worst foods to buy in bulk and which are often wasted include fresh fruit and veggies, eggs and spices. These foods tend to go bad fairly quickly, so you should only be buying them every few days or once a week rather than stocking up. Making a list of what you need before going to the grocery store will help prevent waste and save you money.
#4 Shopping While Hungry
Grocery shopping while hungry is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, even if you have a grocery list on hand. Your eyes will glaze over and your senses will be overcome by the vibrant colors and scents of your supermarket (which is intentional).
It’s common to hit up your local grocery store after work or before dinner—when you’re starting to get hungry—but don’t do it, you’ll end up spending more on impulse purchases. Remember, the goal is to cut costs and buy what you need for budget dinners and meals.
#5 Frequent Meals Out
There are plenty of common pitfalls people make that’ll hurt their wallet when food shopping, but frequent meals out is another surefire way to burn through your monthly food budget if you aren’t careful.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household—which can include one individual spending on just themselves—is $3,000 a year. And remember, even delivery or takeout qualifies as dining out and often comes with surcharges and delivery minimums or fees.
Dining out can be pricey, but even spending a few bucks a day on lunch adds up quicker than you think. Spending just a modest $5 a day (5 days a week) is already a $100 chunk out of your monthly food budget.
Save More with Meal Delivery Kits
Grocery shopping and eating, in general, has never been easier as more and more companies are vying for our business with convenient services like Uber Eats and Instacart, which bring your favorite foods right to your door.
Another food service that has been on the rise are meal delivery kits. Instead of spending money on going out for a meal, the meal ingredients are brought to you. Not only do meal delivery services provide people with a good, high-quality meal, but it also brings the wholesome experience of cooking your own dinner—plus some added bonuses, like healthy and delicious budget dinners.
One of the biggest reasons people are moving towards meal kit services is that many, like Home Chef, make it incredibly easy to prepare your own meals by including pre-portioned ingredients and an easy-to-follow recipe card with your meal delivery box.
Portions can be a mystery, especially to those who aren’t experienced in the kitchen. Meal delivery kits take the guesswork out so there’s no need for a measuring cup.
Healthy cooking isn’t always easy, and a common misconception is that a health-conscious meal can’t taste good. What’s great about meal delivery kits is that many, like bistroMD and Sun Basket, offer options that are designed specifically for weight loss goals and a variety of diet types.
The perks and conveniences of these meal delivery services can sure feel like a luxury that will cost a pretty penny at first glance, but you’d be surprised. Sure, some of these companies are costly and fiscally on-par with going out for a nice dinner, but with this recent rise in popularity of meal delivery services comes a trove of budget meal options like Dinnerly and EveryPlate that offer budget dinners for less than $5.
Here are a few additional factors to consider when approaching meal delivery services with cost-savings in mind:
- You’re saving valuable time and money (including gas) on cutting back on trips to the grocery store.
- You waste less food by having pre-portioned and ready-to-cook meals sent to you.
- You’re saving time on meal planning that would have been spent pouring over complicated and expensive recipes.
Dinnerly for budget dinners
Dinnerly is one of the most affordable meal delivery services on the market, costing just $4.99 per portion. Like many of their competitors, they offer easy-to-follow recipes, fresh and organic ingredients, and detailed meal information for their budget meals.
Other Dinnerly Highlights include:
- Fast, 30-minute recipes
- A variety of meal options and dietary preferences
- Flexibility when it comes to modifying your order
- Can add or skip a week with ease
Image from Dinnerly.com
Green Chef for dietary restrictive meals
Green Chef caters to a variety of dietary restrictions, whether it’s keto, paleo, or gluten-free options you need. Depending on your plan choice, it costs as low as $9.99 per serving. Furthermore, Green Chef is currently offering $75 off ($25 off your first three orders) at the time of this writing.
Other Green Chef highlights include:
- Learn how to cook with their wide-range of videos.
- Environmentally friendly by offering sustainable, recyclable, and reusable packaging.
- Supports organic farming with USDA organic certifications for most ingredients.
- Convenient 30-minute recipes.
Image from GreenChef.com
bistroMD for weight-management
If weight loss is your goal, bistroMD is a great start. Their frozen, low-cal meals are specifically designed with health in mind by expert weight-management physicians and dietitians. For a full, 7 day program which includes 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 6 dinners, the price comes out to about $6.75 per meal.
They offer a great variety of diet plans, including diabetic, gluten-free, and heart-healthy which come with detailed meal information and easy-to-follow recipes.
Other bistroMD highlights include:
- Custom weight loss diet plans that you can craft according to your preferences
- Offers weight loss plans for new moms
- Suitable for people with type II diabetes
We’re all looking for ways to put money back in our pockets and save when it comes to one of life’s greatest joys: eating. Meal delivery services may seem like just another culinary fad, sure to die out when the novelty fades, but the convenience and pleasure their easy-home-cooking experience brings isn’t going away anytime soon.
Cooking at home has never been better. Meal delivery services offer meal plans that take the time and stress out of meal-prep through easy-to-follow recipes and prepackaged and portioned meals all while teaching you how to cook.
*The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice. You are advised to consult your physician, nutrition or other qualified health provider before consuming any meal or beginning any dietary program.. The information is not intended to be relied upon for medical treatment, recommended diet or diagnosis. Reliance upon any opinion or advice provided is at your own risk