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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1 Title-Secured Loans, Secured LOCs and Title Pawns: Maximum pledge 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. Refinancing is not available for Mississippi or Tennessee Pledge products. 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 satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry and motor vehicle appraisal. Must present valid government issued ID. 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.

2 Personal Unsecured Loans/LOCs: Unsecured loan amounts and products not available in all stores/states. Max loan amount for first time borrowers is $1,000 ($500 for an in-store personal loan in AZ). Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher loan amounts, currently up to $2,500. Loans above $1,000 ($500 for an in-store personal loan in AZ) require two consecutive pay stubs showing direct deposit. In-Store: Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. Bring in proof of income (dated within the last 30 days), active bank account details (dated within the last 45 days), proof of residency, a voided check, and a valid government-issued ID to apply. In AZ, a valid AZ motor vehicle registration in your name is also required. Min $601 in SC. Without SSN or ITIN, max loan amount is $300. Online: If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, please visit us in store to apply. Additional items required for eligibility, including: a valid and active email address and telephone number, a valid SSN, and proof of residency for the state in which you are applying (currently AZ, DE, KS, MO, MS, SC, TN, TX, UT or WI). Min $610 in SC. Certain other terms and conditions may apply.

– California, Illinois and Virginia Residents: TitleMax® no longer originates new loans in CA, IL or VA, but continues to service existing loans.

– 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.

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

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