Your personal commitment to good food doesn’t mean you’re destined to be broke forever. While an unrestrained foodie can rack up considerable costs in gourmet ingredients and premium dining experiences, you don’t have to go all out to get the best flavors. In fact, you might even be able to save some money as you delight your taste buds. If you don’t believe it, here are some tips that prove to pay attention to your diet pays off.

Prepare food to avoid meals of convenience :

Have you ever caught yourself driving home from work, thinking about what you can make for dinner when a fast food drive-thru catches your eye? The hot and ready meal is a lot more appetizing than going back to your place where you’ll have to cook for hours before you can eat. Don’t trust hungry you. Hungry you make bad decisions. You’ll almost always hit up the drive-thru for the sake of speed and convenience.

Let’s revisit these in-car musings, but this time, you have a fridge full of pre-made meals that need very little preparation before you can tuck in. When you know you have fresh food waiting for you, you’ll find it easier to avoid these temptations. Homemade meals aren’t just good for your budget. They’re often better for your waistline than these fast food fillers.

Follow a meal plan :

A meal plan can help you reduce how much you spend on groceries each month. This plan works best when you organize your diet around meals that piggyback on top of one another. By this, we mean choosing meals with overlapping ingredients. For example, if one pasta recipe calls for mushrooms, make sure another meal can use up any remaining mushrooms.

You should also factor in recipe yields to determine how many leftovers you’ll have. If you like variety in your diet, look up recipes that can incorporate existing leftovers to create new meals with different tastes. This helps you eliminate waste in buying food you don’t need or won’t eat. When the average household wastes $2,200 in food each year, being less wasteful comes with significant cash savings.

Look for advice :

If you’re a novice in the kitchen, you’ll want to check out the Food Network, Whole Foods, and other websites for budget-friendly inspiration. You can even find some pointers from celebrities like Hailey Duff, Jessica Seinfeld, and Alicia Silverstone for recipes. Keep a pen and paper nearby so you can jot down the ingredients you need for each recipe, and check in with your budget to see if you can afford these meals.

Learn how to budget :

A Food Network star can teach you the best way to mince garlic because they’re an expert in the kitchen. When you need advice about your bank book, you should turn towards a professional in the financial industry. Move away from the foodie blogs and towards financial websites for help when building a budget. You can find guides and other savings tips on websites like NerdWallet and Wisebread. Even an online lender like MoneyKey offers savings tips and budgeting guides that will help you in the kitchen. Their resource center is geared towards those who use payday loans from MoneyKey to cover unexpected bills and repairs. They understand their customers don’t have a lot of expendable income, so they’ve tailored practical advice for those who are broke. Combined with a money management app like Mint, these budgeting tips can help you save even more on food.

Eat meat sparingly :

Pound per pound, meat is one of the most expensive ingredients on your list, and you can easily blow your entire budget buying a choice cut for the family. Adopting a flexitarian diet can help you reduce the cost at the till without swearing off meat entirely.

A flexitarian is someone who eats a primarily plant-based diet. While they eat some fish and meat, they get most of their protein from meat alternatives like beans, legumes, soy products, and wheat gluten (or seitan). All of these are easy to sub into low-cost stews and curries.

When it comes to the meat you do eat, be sure you’re buying the right cuts. While Porterhouse steaks promise the best quality, they also come with some of the highest prices. You can learn how to use cheaper cuts in a way that produces high-quality taste without the matching price tag. Learn the advantageous of braising and tenderizing to elevate simple, tough cuts into something better. It will take a little longer to prepare, but the results are worth it.

You don’t have to go broke to eat well. Even a small budget can produce food that delights your taste buds if you’re willing to put time and effort into meal prep. Start using a budget and meal plan to cut down on waste and mindless eating to see how cheap delicious meals can be.

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