How often do you fall under the spell of prepared foods? There you are walking through the deli section of your local supermarket and what to your wondering eyes should appear but a package of tasty-looking burritos all ready to be heated and eaten. Yum!
The downside of these foods is the cost. If you’re trying to save money by living frugally, prepared foods are just not going to get you there. On the average, they cost at least twice as much as if you were to buy the basic ingredients and prepare the dish yourself. Frozen meals are just as bad if not worse. Our local supermarket has a coupon this week that will save you $1 on PF Chang’s Home Menu Frozen Meals. Any time you can save $1 on a product, you can bet that it will cost more than $5. Plus, you’ll probably need more than one of these meals to feed your family. At the very least, you’ll have to spend somewhere around $10 for that meal. Or, as an alternative, you could fix spaghetti with meat sauce, a side salad and a green vegetable for $6 or less.
The exception and not the rule
Of course, there will be days when you just have to use a prepared meal. But that should be the exception and not the rule. As a rule, you should fix meals yourself. You will not only save money, you should be able to fix healthier meals for you and your family. Burritos may be fun to eat but they have very little real food value in comparison with, say, chicken breasts in a broccoli sauce with green beans and a nice salad. Another big advantage of fixing your own meals is that you can cook large enough portions to have leftovers, which will make it much easier to fix your next meal.
Check out the nutritional value of the food you byy
Even though it does add time to your shopping, you should really check out the nutritional information on the foods you buy. You may be shocked at what you discover. There is an unfortunate fact of life, which is the better something tastes, the worse it probably is in terms of nutritional value. Conversely, the food that’s best for you tends to be not so much fun.
We check out the nutrition information on most of what we eat and this has shaped our diet accordingly. If you look at the nutritional information on something as simple as cereal and compare a Cheerios with a Frosted Flakes, you will see in a hot minute which one would be better for your kids.
Hamburger vs. black beans. And the winner is …
For that matter, I saw a graphic the other day comparing four ounces of hamburger with four ounces of black beans. It’s no contest. Black beans give you as much protein as hamburger without any of the fats you get with beef.
It does take more time to shop and prepare meals rather than buying them already prepared. But you can feed your family better and more nutritional foods by doing so.