I receive quite a few emails requesting the opportunity to submit a guest post. Most of them I don't post because they don't seem to fit into my cookbook. However, if you are talking about saving money...I'm totally there!
Five Ways to Save Money with Fun Family Meals
1. Revamp Leftovers
Children and adults alike get bored warming up the same dinner from the night before. Surprise your family with something different. Who wants reheated baked chicken from the night before? It was great the first night, but boring the second. If it goes uneaten, it goes in the trash, which is a waste of money. Instead, remember that leftover chicken can be sliced for barbeque chicken sandwiches, diced and tossed with pasta and Alfredo sauce, or added to a pie crust with other simple ingredients to create a chicken pot pie. Have a leftover steak with more than one mouth to feed? Shred the steak, make taquitos, add a salad with rice and beans and feed a family of four!
2. Breakfast for Dinner
If you have little ones in the house, you know that trying new exotic dinner creations often equals a lot of uneaten portions. I’m not saying to avoid new foods, but balance out the grocery budget by offering an occasional breakfast for dinner. Kids love it! It is also a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal. Furthermore, breakfast for dinner doesn’t have to mean waffles and pancakes. Try creating a nutritious omelet with ham, fresh veggies and low-fat cheese, or a breakfast burrito loaded with lean steak, diced potatoes,eggs and topped with salsa.
3. Vegetarian Night
Wholesome, filling dinners can easily be created without meat. Offering a night or two a week of meatless meals can shrink your weekly grocery budget too, so try making a bean soup and add a warm bread loaf. Other family favorites are eggplant Parmesan, vegetable stir-fry, or pasta with a simple marinara or Alfredo sauce.
4. Cook Seasonally
Out of season fruits and vegetables can be expensive. Take advantage of lower-priced fruits and vegetables when they are in season and plan your meals around them. For example, buying a large bag of plain brown potatoes in the winter can create a large variety of meals. Potatoes become boring to the family when just mashed or boiled, but add chopped steak, broccoli and cheddar cheese to create loaded baked potatoes! Leftover mashed potatoes can be mixed with shredded cheddar cheese and lightly fried in a taco shell for potato tacos. Little picky-eaters tend to love potato tacos. Homemade french fries are the best, and for health conscious moms, baked fries are a healthy option. Summer desserts are solved with baking in-season berry pies, such as blackberries or raspberries. Offering fruit pies is also a great way to get another dose of fruit into the little ones, though this should obviously only be sporadic.
5. Nights In
In today’s economy, going out to eat has become more of a luxury than routine. So, bring the restaurant home and create some family fun as well. In the mood for Mexican? While the meat is cooking, chop the toppings and lay them out in bowls, so your family can build their own tacos. Offer chips and salsa, rice and beans. This meal is economical and the children get to have fun and be creative! Another meal that offers family fun is to build and create your own pizza. Many ready-made types of dough and sauces are available - just lay out the toppings and build. Insert and light candles into empty Chianti bottles at dinnertime and the mood is set for a special dinner.
Jenny Spellman writes about saving money, personal finance & www.travelinsurance.org