Dinner on a dime and in no time!

Tips for budgeting and meal planning to make quick dinners.

Do you find yourself short of time and wanting a quick dinner meal? Life can be simply chaotic with all of the demands of work, school or home. Stocking up on kitchen staples and developing a meal plan may simplify your dinner making-decisions. In the long run, planning makes a HUGE difference and can help save you some money!

Stocking up on staples

Keep your pantry and refrigerator full of essential ingredients for those quick and easy dinner meals. Michigan State University Extension encourages individuals to maintain the following ingredients on hand: canned vegetables, canned beans, canned spaghetti sauce, canned fruit, canned tuna/chicken, milk, eggs, bread, low-fat cheese, dry pasta, frozen vegetables, and seasonings or fresh herbs. These are just some of the endless items you want to constantly maintain in your kitchen. Practicing safety measures in the kitchen is an important skill to ensure the safety of your loved ones. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), advises individuals to discard any deeply dented cans as this may cause a risk for bacteria infestation.

Developing a dinner meal plan

Writing out your dinner meals for the week or even starting off with a one-day dinner meal plan can help prioritize your shopping list, shopping budget and can help eliminate those last minute runs to the grocery store. If a busy week is ahead, plan meals that include kitchen pantry items. For example, you can make a black beans over brown rice meal. This recipe takes about 15-20 minutes if you select to use pre-boiled brown rice. If black beans is not your thing, consider using a can of mixed greens and a canned of diced tomatoes. Cook your rice in a pot following the guided instructions, and in a different pan heat up the beans (or the mixed greens with diced tomatoes). If preferred, lightly sprinkle low-fat shredded cheese to your meal. This will yield a tasty, hearty dish!

Remember, if you are on a budget and want to save some time, stocking up on kitchen staples and developing dinner meal plans is economically-friendly and healthy! Please refer to USDA’s Make Easy and Healthy Family Meals handout for additional information. MSU Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families, and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating. For more health and nutrition tips, visit MSU Extension.

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