family eating dinner

Easy Frugal Family Dinners

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There’s nothing better than an easy dinner idea that is inexpensive too. Groceries are out of this world right now and these easy frugal family dinners are going to save your bacon!

family dinner at the table-Easy Frugal Family Dinners

It’s tempting to pick up takeout on the way home from a busy day at work, but having a wholesome homemade dinner as a family has many long-term benefits.

Did you know that in America:

  • Only 40% of families eat dinner together every night.
  • Only 50% of families sit down to eat dinner at all.
  • Only 85% of families eat dinner together 3 times a week.
  • One out of every 10 meals is eaten in a car.

Why go through the hassle of having family dinners? What does it matter.

Communication skills are reinforced at the dinner table. Children learn to share conversation, listen, and respect others’ opinions. Children develop better vocabulary skills as they talk to adults.

Children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to do drugs, drink, or smoke. And they are less prone to depression and suicidal thoughts.

Teens that eat with their family are more motivated to do well in school and have better relationships with their peers.

Children who eat dinner with their families tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food than those who do not. They eat better portion sizes and get better nutrition. Home-cooked meals tend to be healthier.

And family dinners provide healthy routines for children as well as help children to learn and understand their culture through family traditions.

Traditions are the glue that holds a family together. They encourage family closeness and give its members a sense of security. Why not start your family dinner traditions?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

rotel chili in a bowl

Easy Family Dinners

Think about exactly what to serve well in advance. If there’s a special dish that guests always love such as Aunt Pat’s sweet potato casserole, make sure to have all ingredients on hand before you start shopping. Check the pantry. Perform a careful survey of all available items that are on hand such as spices and other staples.

A good menu will have a wide selection of dishes. Avoid duplicating courses and items. Stuffed squash should not follow a pumpkin soup. Each dish should also have visual interest. Well-dressed items allow diners to have a sense of anticipation that can make meals happier.

Take a tip from professional chefs and add finishing touches to the meal. Chop up herbs to scatter into soup. Add a tomato rosette to the baked chicken. Pipe icing stripes on the chocolate cake. Put a twist of lemon in iced tea for a nice homey accent.

Once a menu has been mapped out then think about where to shop for necessary items. Buying in bulk can allow for frugal shopping and still have enough to serve the entire extended family. Look carefully through Sunday circulars for on-sale bargains to help you save money.

A store to consider for good deals on food items is Aldi’s. This German retailer offers shoppers fewer choices and brands but at a lower cost.

Another good way to reduce costs is to prepare an item at home rather than buy it in processed form. Pre-shredded cheese costs more than shredding it in a kitchen. Pre-mixed salads are more expensive than creating one in a kitchen.

If short on time, ask family members to help you. A child can cut up cheese as a topping for cauliflower. A spouse can shred lettuce for salads. Home-made items also allow you know exactly what goes into the finished product. A homemade pie crust can be tailored to a family’s exact tastes.

Buying seasonally is another great way to save money. Out-of-season strawberries are a special treat. In-season produce is often not only cheaper but often tastes better as well.

Retailers also often reduce the price of an item to entice buyers during the appropriate time. For example, turkey and cranberries are often much cheaper during Thanksgiving. Some stores will even give away a turkey if you purchase a certain dollar number of items.

To save additional costs, consider purchasing no-name brands. Many famous labels will sell surplus items to more traditionally cheaper brands. The quality is often just as good. This principle can also be applied to items that will serve as ingredients. A slightly bruised plum can be made into preserves. An apple with a minor blemish can go into an apple crisp.

Meals at home are not difficult to create and need not cost too much money. Use tricks that professionals use, so much the prep work in-house rather than purchasing ready-made items and avoid name brands. With proper preparation, you can make any family meal inexpensive and delicious.

Frugal family dinners won’t be a reality every night in our busy world. If a family dinner doesn’t work one day, a family breakfast or brunch might. It’s the idea of eating together, not when, that is important. And remember, you don’t have to prepare every meal from scratch. You can reuse leftovers and supplement with a few premade meals.

Getting children to help with dinner preparations will teach them the importance of family dinners, and the value of nutrition, increase their feeling of value in the family and even increase their self-confidence through feelings of accomplishment and pride. Many parents find that their children are more apt to eat if they have had a hand in preparing it. And also check out these dirt cheap meal ideas for daycare for more money saving inspiration!

turkey and pea corn chowder in a bowl

Family meals offer an opportunity for a variety of healthy foods to be served, but also a time for families to check in with each other in terms of what is going on in their lives. Family meals offer an opportunity for role-modeling by parents in terms of choosing a variety of foods, as well as demonstrating appropriate table manners.

For some easy and frugal family dinners for tonight, check these out:

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