Many Americans strive to put a healthy, flavorful meal on the table every night for their families. Unfortunately, keeping your family happy while not breaking the bank can sometimes seem impossible. Here are seven simple Tips to help you get more creative and help get you started in terms of saving money.

1. Meatless Monday

Make vegetarian meals one or two nights a week and you’d be surprised at how much money you might save.

Rice or pasta dishes are extremely versatile and easy to bulk up with vegetables. A meat substitute like tofu or seitan could be another inexpensive way to liven up your dishes. However, tofu and seitan are tasteless by nature so don’t be stingy with the spices.

2. Breakfast for dinner

Make breakfast for dinner one night a week. Breakfast tends to be quicker to cook so save it for a night that you’re particularly tired.

It's also a great way to get the kids involved. Let them help you make their favorite dish. Pancakes are easy to keep interesting. You can add fresh fruit or chocolate chips. If you get creative, you’ll never get bored. And as an added bonus, the more excited your kids are about the food, the more likely they are to fill their bellies.

3. Timing is everything

Make your shopping work for you. Go to farmers markets at the end of the day and the vendors might be more willing to sell you those wonderful organic fruits and veggies for less.

If you go to big name grocery stores, shop at night, when fresh baked goods might be marked down for a quick sale. Lastly, check if you have a discount grocery outlet near you. They tend to not have as complete a selection as your normal grocery store, but chances are you will probably find some brand names that you normally buy for much less. Buy it when you see it because it might not be there the next time you go.

4. Don’t bring a list

Contrary to popular belief, going Grocery Shopping without a list might actually benefit you more. You should always have some go-to recipes in mind but be flexible when it comes to veggies and side dishes. Utilize seasonal veggies and plan your dishes around what looks best or what's on sale when you get to the store.

5. Share the wealth

Do you have close neighbors and friends that also like to save money?

If you were a little overzealous the last time you were at the store and bought way too many potatoes or too many boxes of pasta, swap it with your neighbor for whatever you might need. Bonus points if you grow your own veggies! Swap your fresh fruits and veggies with a friend or neighbor who also gardens.

6. Pick better recipes

If you’re the type that likes to try new recipes, some general rules can be helpful.

The first rule is never use recipes that have more than 8-10 ingredients. The second rule is, out of those 8-10 ingredients, make sure at least 5-7 are ones that you always have on hand like butter, eggs, etc. More ingredients do not necessarily equal more flavor. Follow these rules and you might see a decrease in your grocery bill.

7. End of the week casserole

Make a habit of making a casserole the night before you go grocery shopping to use up whatever you can that’s still in the fridge. Make it with a pasta/rice/potato base and throw in whatever meat and veggies might go bad soon. Get creative and you might even find a new favorite.

Following one or more of these money-saving tips might make making dinner every night easier and more enjoyable too.

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