Ah, single life – you can heat up a microwavable pizza, a cup of ramen noodles, even toast a bagel and be full, without breaking what’s in your budget. But, how do you handle a family dinner when your budget is still on single-mode?

Don’t panic, here at Basket we’ve learned a trick or two along the way and we’re eager to share.

Keep Your Fridge Organized

We’re all guilty of going grocery shopping, placing our items in our refrigerator or pantry, and then just forgetting about some of them. You may have used the item once before shoving it to the back of the shelf, or maybe you didn’t really need it, but picked it up because it caught your eye in the aisle.

Regardless of how your food did or did not end up in your home, it is important you keep track of it. Without realizing it, you could be repeatedly buying an item you don’t need because you have a full container in the back of the fridge. By keeping your food items organized, you can clearly see what you do and do not need, therefore eliminating wasteful spending and adding more money back into your budget.

Use Main Items in Various Ways

Did you know just how many dinners you could make with ground beef or turkey? From meatballs and sloppy Joe’s to burgers and tacos, repurposing your main item can really stretch your budget. Instead of splurging on expensive steaks or other cuts of meat, buy proteins like chicken breasts, ground meat, or bone-in pork chops. One look at the Basket app can reveal that savings on these cuts of meat will open up more room in your budget for other items.

These cuts of meat are a less expensive option, and can be utilized in countless ways. Buy a large pack of these proteins, and freeze what you don’t immediately use. Simply thaw them out the day of, and voila! A world of opportunities has opened up. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to feed a family when you’re reinventing fun ways to cook less expensive meats.

Looking to spice things up even further? Check the tip below.

Take Advantage of Spices

Say this with me: spices are your friend. Adding a dash of cayenne and cajun seasoning to simple chicken breasts can completely elevate the dish. Adding cinnamon or nutmeg to a baked sweet potato turns a bland side into a scrumptious complement.

As you shop, gradually build your spice rack. Even if you’re not splurging on ingredients, the right spices can make a dish taste like a million bucks. Start small with spices that intrigue you, and build up your palette. The more spices you have at your disposal, the less you have to spend to craft a tasty dish.

Be Open Minded

When you’re on a budget, you can’t exactly be a food snob. Don’t be picky! So many tasty, affordable items are waiting on the aisles of the grocery store. Just because you tried something once years ago doesn’t mean you won’t like it now. You’d be amazed how much our taste buds evolve as we age.

Plus, don’t be afraid to try new recipes. You don’t have to break the bank to add a few herbs to the pan as you sauté chicken, or even use a bottled salad dressing with some garlic and onion powder as a marinade for meats or tofu. Food is very versatile, and is able to stretch when you’re on a budget. Keep an open mind and don’t hesitate to try new things in the kitchen.

Price Check in Your Area

People across the country are overpaying for groceries everyday, whether they’re single or a family of five.

Enter Basket – the world’s first price-checking application for groceries, powered by our community of shoppers nationwide. Now you can build your ideal shopping list and check the price at a variety of stores in your area. This way, instead of paying double for a dinnertime necessity, you can find your whole list at a fraction of the price. Feeding a family on a tight budget is worlds easier when you can clearly see where you’re able to save money.

Quality Doesn’t Always Mean Quantity…

The meat and produce section at the grocery store is where most people stumble in their budget. We fully support you wanting to buy quality meat and produce, often opting for organic or non-GMO foods. However, often the meat section of your grocery store will have options such as pre-made beef patties or other pre-made options. You may think these are higher quality, but usually you’re spending double the price to have ground meat pressed into patties for you.

Instead, buy a whole package of ground meat and form the patties yourself. (Don’t forget the seasonings!) In most cases you’ll find that you’ll be able to stretch the meat to feed more people than you would by buying the preformed patties. You can really stretch your dollar by not throwing the first pre-made item into your cart.

…And Quantity Can Mean Quality (With Some Effort)

The best example for this lesson is chicken. Instead of buying just chicken breast or thighs, which can be more pricey, go to a grocer that allows you to purchase a whole chicken. Many stores will even quarter the chicken for you at no charge. While this might seem like a lot of chicken to deal with at first, remember that you don’t have to eat it all in one night.

Overall, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck by buying in bulk here. You can even save chicken bones, and use them to make simple broths and soup. Plus, you’ll have days worth of chicken for meals stocked up on hand. Simply cook what you need at the time, and freeze the rest. Otherwise, uncooked poultry in general is safe in the fridge for 1 to 2 days before cooking.

Feeding a family on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult. Be inventive with your recipes, be more vigilant when shopping, and don’t be afraid to get creative. You’ll be amazed what you can create.