Cooking for two can get expensive and time-consuming, but planning your meals and buying food carefully can make your meal experience less stressful. Purchasing bulk items and generic brands are examples of how to save money and time on food. Using ingredients in more than one meal can also help, as does using your leftovers for additional meals instead of throwing them away.
Breakfast may be the cheapest, easiest meal of the day. Start with generic brand coffee. The main course can consist of generic, bulk cereal (bought on sale) and milk. Two people can also split a banana into their cereal for some added nutrition. If the two of you are not fans of cereal, try eggs, beans and tortillas. Canned beans are generally under 60p, and if you shop the sales, you can pay far less than that. This is an affordable, easy meal two people can make without breaking the bank. Also, the Hillbilly Housewife website has a recipe for homemade pancakes that can be made with what is currently in your pantry. Oatmeal is one of the easiest meals to make. Skip the prepackaged microwaveable kind and go for plain rolled oats (not only is this cheaper, but it's better for you). These are available in bulk, and it only takes water and a pinch of salt to make a hearty breakfast. Add fruit when it is available.
There are about 20 slices of bread in any given store-bought loaf. This equals 10 meals for two people with a few additions. Peanut butter can be bought in bulk, and it has good fats as well as protein to help you get through the day. Peanut butter sandwiches are easy to make and store well in a backpack or lunch bag. Ramen Noodles are an old, but reliable standby for lunch. You can purchase packages for under a quarter each, or you can spring for the noodles in a microwaveable cup, which won't cost you much more than 60p. Buy a box of these and you'll have lunch for several weeks. An article in the Christian Science Monitor lists tomato soup and grilled cheese as another inexpensive meal choice. Canned tomato soup is available any time of year for reasonable prices. Add bread and cheese and you'll have a satisfying, affordable lunch.
Pasta is probably the most versatile ingredient in any cheap dinner. Shop for pasta on sale, and keep it in your pantry for months. Pasta and red sauce can be a great meal for two. Or, pasta with red sauce and frozen or fresh vegetables or meat is another idea. You can also use butter or olive oil instead of red sauce. Baked potatoes can make another great dinner for two. Add toppings such as sour cream, bacon bits or cheese for a filling meal. Salad in the summer months is also a great option. In peak season, lettuce and other vegetables are affordable, even on a tight budget. Add some chicken or other protein when you can for a balanced dinner.
Tips for Cheap Meals
Aside from shopping sales, clip coupons for your favourite ingredients. The Frugal Living Tips website recommends buying in bulk, cooking in bulk and saving the leftovers for future meals. The site also recommends planning your meals a week in advance, so you can use items in more than one meal. Tomato sauce, for example, can be used for pasta, but also for pizza. Vegetables make great salad, sandwich toppings and soups.
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