A Guide to Planning Frugal and Delicious Lunches for a Month

At some point, you may have looked back at your monthly budget and noticed a huge spending black hole draining your wallet of hard-earned cash: your food budget. Most of us lead busy lives, and though we’d love daily time to cook delicious and nutritious meals, it’s just not possible. It’s true that time is money, though, and the price we pay for convenience is resorting to unhealthy and expensive convenience foods or dining out, which is the priciest option yet.

There is a solution to ending the spiral of meal spending: meal preparation. A concentrated few hours of cooking can supply you with homemade food throughout the week. Planned meals using groceries that stay within your food budget will keep your spending on track while still supplying you with tasty meals during your busy work hours. Also, you’ll find that cooking at home usually leads to healthier choices and fewer calories consumed. You can choose to do either weekly or monthly meal prep. Weekly meals are the more common choice, but either option is sure to save time and money.

How to Start Meal-Planning

Before you begin your meal-planning adventure, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Make a list of 20-25 meals that you and/or your family enjoy. Knowing your favorite meals will help you rotate options that you always enjoy.
  2. Check out your calendar for the week so you can see which nights are busy and require a super-quick meal or something to go. Choose one to three free days or nights that will allow you to spend time in the kitchen.
  3. Look in the pantry, fridge, and freezer for ingredients that are going to go bad soon and need to be used. Do you have some produce in the fridge and rice in the pantry? Plan a stir fry for early in the week.
  4. If you’re a coupon user, start snipping and make sure to check ads for grocery store sales. This can help you choose which meals you’re making for the week. Avocados on sale? It’s a good time to make Mexican food.
  5. Choose “connected” meals. This means that you can use one item for two meals. For instance, if you buy a whole chicken, it can be roasted and served with mashed potatoes, and then the leftovers can be used for quesadillas later in the week. You’ll save money and waste less food this way.
  6. Focus on choosing meals that use seasonal ingredients to prevent over-spending on produce or seafood.

Meal-Planning Recipe Ideas

If you’re having trouble coming up with favorite meals and you’re looking for inspiration, check out these quick and inexpensive recipe ideas:

In the event of a financial emergency that makes it difficult to put food on the family table, it is important to understand all of the lending options available to you. Alternative lending solutions may be a good option for those who may not qualify for traditional bank loans.

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– California Residents: As of January 1, 2020, TitleMax of California, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax, no longer originates new loans in California. TitleMax will continue to service existing loans originated before January 1, 2020. California Finance Lenders Law License No. 603K014. Please see our California Resident Notice at Collection and Privacy Policy: Submit a Verified Consumer Request to understand what information we collect, disclose, or sell, to request that we delete your information, and/or opt out of selling by clicking Do Not Sell My Personal Information.

– In Georgia, TitleMax offers Title Pawns.

– Illinois Residents: As of March 23rd, 2021, TitleMax® of Illinois, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax, no longer originates new loans in Illinois.

– New Mexico Consumers: please see important New Mexico Consumer Information and Disclosures.

– In Nevada, title loans should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any title loan transaction. Ability to repay analysis with income documentation required.

– In Tennessee, TitleMax offers title pledges, and secured and unsecured Lines of Credit (“LOC”). Only one LOC account allowed per customer, inclusive of other lenders. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income (and collateral, if applicable) review/validation.

– TitleMax of Texas, Inc. and TitleMax Online of Texas, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax acts as Credit Services Organizations to assist customers in obtaining a loan through an unaffiliated third-party lender. Please see store associate for details. Please see Texas Schedule of All Fees. TitleMax does not offer pawn loans or pawn transactions in Texas.

– TitleMax of Virginia, Inc. d/b/a TitleMax is licensed by the Virginia State Corporation Commission, license number VTL-11. As of January 1, 2021, TitleMax of Virginia, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax, no longer originates new loans in Virginia.

– TMX Finance of Virginia, Inc. d/b/a TitleMax Loans is licensed by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. As of January 1, 2021, TMX Finance of Virginia, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax Loans, no longer originates new loans in Virginia.

– TitleMax®, TitleBucks®, and InstaLoan®, are not considered competitors. Please see a store associate for details.

1 Title-Secured Loans, Secured LOCs and Title Pawns: Maximum loan amount in Mississippi is $2,500. Maximum loan amount in Tennessee is $6,500, assuming customer qualifies for and accepts both the Pledge max of $2,500 and Secured LOC max of $4,000. Minimum loan amount for title-secured loans in South Carolina is $601.

Must be at least 18 years of age (19 in Alabama). Account approval requires valid government-issued ID, a credit inquiry, and a motor vehicle appraisal. Certain other eligibility requirements and terms & conditions apply. Loan/LOC/Pawn amounts vary by states and product. LOC customers are subject to a periodic collateral review to maintain credit limit.

Proof of income documentation and ability to repay analysis is required in Missouri, Nevada, some Texas locations, and Utah.

Refinancing is not available in Mississippi or Tennessee.

2 In-Store Personal Unsecured Loans: Must be at least 18 years of age (19 in Alabama). Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. To apply, bring in proof of income (dated within the last 30 days), active bank account details (dated within 45 days), proof of residency, a void check, a valid government-issued ID, and in AZ, a valid AZ vehicle registration in your name. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income review/validation to maintain credit limit.

Unsecured loan/LOC products not available in all stores or states. Minimum/maximum loan/LOC amounts vary by state; not all loan amounts available in all states. Max loan/LOC amount for first time borrowers is $1,000 ($500 in AZ). Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher amounts, currently up to $2,500 in most states. Without SSN or ITIN: Max loan is $300. Certain other terms and conditions may apply.

3 Online Personal Unsecured Loans/LOCs: Must be at least 18 years of age. Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. To apply, you must provide proof of steady income (within 30 days), valid and verifiable bank account (statement dated within 45 days), a voided check, valid and active email address and telephone number, valid SSN, valid government-issued ID, and you must reside in the state in which you are applying (currently AZ, DE, KS, MO, MS, SC, TN, TX, UT or WI) and provide proof of residency. In AZ, must present valid AZ vehicle registration in your name. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income review/validation to maintain credit limit.

Minimum/maximum unsecured online loan amounts vary by state: SC min is $610. Maximum unsecured online loan/LOC amount for first time borrowers is $1,000. Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher loan amounts, currently up to $2,500. Certain other terms and conditions may apply. Unsecured online loan products and amounts not available in all states. TN customers: Only one LOC per customer, inclusive of other lenders.

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