Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stretching Your Food Budget

Who wouldn't love to save money at the grocery store each week? I've been trying to trim my grocery bills, and what was an annoying chore has turned into a bit of a sport for me. I know there are folks who are far more dedicated and talented than me in this area, but here are a few ideas that I've come across that work for me. Saving a few bucks each week and knowing that I'm working to be a good steward with the food we've been blessed is absolutely worth the extra effort.

  1. Make your menu for the week and base your grocery list off it.
  2. Check out the weekly specials at your local grocery and see if you can plan some of your menu around sale items.
  3. Stick to your list as much as possible! Come on, were those gummy bears really on your list! = )
  4. Try to only go to the store once a week. It'll save you time and money.
  5. Clip coupons or print them online. I use from time to time.
  6. Know when it's good to stock up and when it's not. My rule of thumb is that if I'll use it in the next 2-3 weeks and it won't spoil, it's okay to buy a few extra of our family favorites when they're on sale. If it will be cluttering up my cupboards or is a perishable item that I won't likely get to in time, then forget about it. A deal isn't a deal if you buy it and have to throw it out.
  7. Keep a moderate inventory. I find that when my fridge and cupboards are too full, I lose track of what I have, and some items end up going to waste. "Oops, that yogurt waaaay in the back of the fridge is expired", etc. If I can see it, I'll be able to figure out how to use it.
  8. Get creative! If you have leftovers, figure out if you can repurpose them into a new meal. This week I had a crazy amount of cooked black beans and rice left over from a burrito recipe. I searched through my freezer, found turkey I had frozen from Thanksgiving, shredded it and made it all into soup. Those wacky beans made 9 meals for us!
  9. If you have an odd ingredient leftover from a recipe, do an ingredient search on your favorite cooking website and find a way to use it. Check out the Taste of Home website listed on the right.
  10. Freeze! If you end up with a bunch of baked goods that you can't eat, freeze them! I was given a wonderful loaf of pumpkin bread right after I made too many pumpkin muffins. I knew most of the items would get stale, so before that happened, I cut up the loaf into chunks and froze them in separate containers. I also froze bunches of muffins (3 per container). We've had delicious treats out of our freezer for weeks. You can do the same with extra pancakes and waffles as well.
  11. Try to use your produce that spoils the quickest soon after your shopping trip. For example, I would use spinach or kale in the days right after my shopping trip and save the carrots for later in the week.
  12. Go meatless! I'm not talking about becoming a vegetarian, but with meat prices so high, it pays dollar-wise and health-wise to go veggie a few meals per week.
  13. Keep value in mind. Cheap isn't necessarily best. I'd much rather pay $6 for a bag of almonds than I would $2 for a bag of potato chips because I know they're healthier and more satisfying.
I know many of you have great money-saving tips as well. I'd love to hear from you!

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