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One of the things that I’m still getting used to as a recent college grad is budgeting for my food. You have to eat right?

Yeah, but you don’t have to blow your budget every month by continuously eating takeout or frozen food. Here are a few of the meal ideas that I have that can help save you money. One of the main ways I do that is cook food that creates leftovers or extras that can be re-imagined for another meal.

Quick Tips

  1. Cook multiple pieces of meat seasoned in different ways so that you have meet prepared for several meals.
  2. Think ahead – remember to take meat out to thaw so that you have something to eat for that night.
  3. When you buy fresh vegetables portion them out and put them in freezer bags and freeze them so you can quickly heat up vegetables for your side dish. Plus – this means that you can stock up when specials happen and run less risk of your vegetables going off before you have a chance to use them.
  4.  Try to make side dishes that make leftovers – rice, pastas anything like that are good options.
  5. Use the weekend to prep for your week ahead – I know, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend time in the kitchen, but you can save some time throughout the week if you pre-slice veggies and think about what you’d like to eat for the week so you know what items need to be thawed, prepped or bought.
  6. Shop the sales and use coupons – if your grocery store offers it, I recommend you getting a shopper’s card, often they give you better discounts. Plus you should look at what sales your grocery store is having. That way you can

Outside of these quick tips, here are a few other meal ideas that you can use to stretch your food budget.


I know they aren’t exotic, but buying a loaf of bread and a few other ingredients can provide you lunches for work or quick dinners.

  • Grilled cheese sandwiches – you can dress these up by adding turkey, ham or chicken to it. Or you could add tomato slices.
  • Tuna melts – canned tuna goes far when it comes to meals. In addition to making a normal tuna salad sandwich, you can make a tuna melt by adding cheese and grilling it.
  • Egg salad / Chicken salad sandwiches – I recently found a really tasty recipe for curried egg salad that spices up your ordinary sandwich filling. Plus, I’m pretty sure these flavors in the curried egg salad recipe would work wonderfully for chicken salad too!


One of my favorite quick meals (and ways to use up leftover meat) is to make salad. Really you can take any meat and veggies and mix them up with dressing to make a quick dinner. But if you are feeling adventurous, here are a few more special salad ideas.

  • Taco salad – take ground beef or ground turkey and cook it off the same way that you would cook it off to make tacos. Then instead of putting it in shells make a salad with all of the typical taco fixings.
  • Salmon / Fish salad – if you have a little extra money in your budget or there’s a good special on fish, you can pan sear it so that it’s crispy and make a simple lemon olive oil dressing.

Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I’m always looking for new ones.


A few of my favorite recipes

Chili Con Carne – makes multiple servings, plus you can freeze your extras so you aren’t stuck eating it for days in a row

Salmon in parchment paper – super tasty and easy to do, and the salmon comes out moist and flavorful. You can even add veggies like leeks, or really thin slices of potatoes for a complete meal.

Baked Penne with Farmhouse Cheddar and Leeks – this is one of my favorite fall-time recipes. It makes a bunch of servings and you can make many different sides to go along with it.

Gemelli with Turkey Italian Sausage – turkey sausage makes this a little healthier, what’s more this reheats really well making it a great dish to take for luunch the next day.