Robin Miller

Photo: Jeremy Frechette Photography

Now more than ever, it's important to not waste the food you purchase—and to get the most bang for your buck! Food Network star Robin Miller, host of Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, offers advice on how to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals that are quick, affordable and delicious.

Woman barbecuing hamburgers

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

2. Plan for Leftovers
Cook double the amount of protein, such as chicken or beef, and save the leftover meat for another meal. Toss the leftover cut-up meat into a large skillet with fresh or frozen vegetables, prepared sauce (such as soy sauce, hoisin, tomato...anything!). Serve the healthy medley over pasta or brown rice.

Woman fixing whole chicken

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

3. Purchase Larger Cuts of Meat
Purchase larger, whole pieces of poultry and beef for true savings. Roast a 6-pound chicken or beef roast—they typically cost less per pound—and save the leftover meat for a future meal. The leftovers can be turned into fabulous, quick sandwiches or hearty soups and stews when simmered with a variety of fresh (or less expensive frozen) vegetables.

Frozen vegetables

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

4. Have a Quick Fix Stash
You can assemble a home-cooked meal in just minutes if you plan ahead and have your own "quick-fix stash" of stored food. Stocking up on items like bottled sauces and frozen chopped vegetables and fruits will help dramatically cut down on preparation time for your favorite recipes.

Another great way to save time is by keeping precooked, recipe-ready protein, like sliced chicken breast strips, on hand to add to your favorite dishes. You can typically find them in either the refrigerated or frozen section at your grocery store, although they will cost more than if you made them yourself.

Baked lasagna

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

5. Cook Two Meals at Once
Cook once, then "bank" a meal. Making lasagna? Baked ziti? Both are super affordable and fun family favorites. When you take the time to create these fabulous dishes, double the recipe and make two complete meals. It takes little extra time, but the payoff is huge. Before baking, cover the extra meal with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to three months (be sure to label and date it). Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

Woman chopping vegetables

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

6. Prepare Food Yourself
Convenience often costs. Prechopped vegetables, boneless, skinless chicken, prepared sauces and semimade meals all cost more because you're paying for someone's prep time. Find a few minutes each week to do the prep yourself.

Prechop vegetables, skin and bone bone-in chicken breasts, create your own sauces and marinades with canned tomatoes, broths, vinegars and flavored oils, and get all your ingredients ready to create your own "meal kits" for busy weeknights. Just a little extra time in the kitchen, which can also be family bonding time, can significantly reduce the dollars you spend at the store.

Woman picking out fruit at the supermarket

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

7. Be Conscious of What You Buy at the Grocery Store
Being conscious of what you buy at the grocery store and how you buy it can help keep spending at a minimum. Always purchase produce when it's in season, like grapefruits and kiwis in the winter and berries in the spring and summer, to avoid overspending. As an excellent alternative to fresh food, buy canned and frozen items, which are a good value given how long they can be kept on hand.

Buy in bulk; purchasing larger quantities of regularly used items, such as pasta, rice, cereals, meat and chicken, can be a great money-saver as long as you are mindful of using up the food you've purchased.

And before you head to the checkout counter, make sure to read store fliers and check out the displays at the end of each aisle for special items and products boasting reduced prices.

Stir-fry dish

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

8. Serve Smaller Protein Portions
Stretch your meal dollars by serving smaller portions of more-expensive protein (chicken breast, fish, shellfish, steak) over pasta and rice. The grains are super affordable and can fill up the plate with ease.

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