Everyone wants to spend less when they head to the grocery store. No one wants see food go to waste. When we don’t pay attention we overbuy, overspend, and then don’t even use what we have to feed our families. I know that I’ve fallen into the trap more than once of making the best effort to feed our family nutritious meals and then standing with my mouth agape when the total was announced at the register. If you want to be a rock star at stretching your food budget, check out these simple tips.
So maybe you don’t have the time to do a major freezer cooking event every month, but you can do batch cooking almost every time you fix a meal. Chop up veggies in advance. I like to keep peppers, mushrooms and onions in reusable containers in the fridge. Fixing a salad, fajitas, veggie kabobs, omelets or even topping a pizza is a snap. Brown twice the amount of ground beef and freeze half of it for future use in everything from chili to tacos. In the summer months, I like to marinade a bag of boneless, skinless chicken in a bottle of Italian dressing all day long on Monday. In the evening, I grill the entire bag. For dinner, we’ll have grilled chicken. The rest of the chicken will be chopped up to use in salads, fajitas, sandwiches, and more.
When you plan your meals, think about dishes that can ebb into the next night. For example, fixing rice as a side dish on one night can easily be turned into fried rice the next night (spoiler: it’s actually better to use second-day rice for the dish). This is also key when it comes to preparing meats. Think about what you can morph into at least one more meal.
When you plan your meals and grocery shop, focus on nutrient-rich foods. Yes, the bag of chips is inexpensive compared to fruits and veggies but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you purchase foods that will keep you fuller for longer. Among the best items to put in your cart are sweet potatoes, kale and other leafy greens, carrots and bananas.
Want to make the meat you purchase provide additional meals? Consider adding affordable (and nutritious) ingredients like black beans or oatmeal. Coming in at as little as $0.59 per can, black beans always make a great side dish — especially if you’re enjoying a Mexican-themed meal. But you can also mash them up and use them in meatloaf. If you don’t think your family will go for the black beans, consider using oats instead.
It’s fun to switch up your routine and have breakfast for dinner now and then. However, this practice can do more than allow the kids to eat pancakes in the afternoon. Breakfast is actually much more economic than traditional dinner meals. From bacon and eggs to fruit salad and waffles, consider having breakfast for dinner at least one night a week to stretch your resources further.
You don’t have to blow your hard-earned cash. You can feed your family well while spending very little. Stick to your budget.