With so many families going through difficult financial times, one of the biggest cutbacks in the budget has to do with food. While eating out can often turn into a luxury, it’s not just restaurant dining that can eat away at your budget.
Grocery shopping is often one of the aspects that can cause a huge dent in the monthly budget and is a place where many families can struggle during difficult times. However, taking advantage of some tips that can help alleviate strains in your grocery bill each month can help allow for less frivolous spending.
For families spending all their money on small baby food jars, think about steaming your vegetables at home and using your food processor to whip them up into your very own home-made baby food. Using an inexpensive ice cube tray can freeze individually sized servings to heat up with each meal, and you can mix and match fruits and vegetables of your choice.
Make Your Own
It’s amazing how many small items can be made from scratch in the home rather than purchased prepackaged at the grocery store. Things like breadcrumbs, sofrito and pesto can all be whipped up at home with ease and can be made in large quantities and frozen for future use.
While it can seem smart to purchase the week’s worth of meat during your weekly or bi-weekly grocery shopping trip, oftentimes the meat will spoil before you can even use it. Purchasing frozen meats like chicken breast in individual packaging can help ensure your family has meat at-the-ready without fear of waste. You can also buy non-frozen meats (chicken breasts, legs and thighs and pork chops usually come in packages of two to six) and remove from the bulk packaging before freezing individually.
Swapping out alternative cuts of meat can be a huge help in cutting down your grocery bill. Simple things like using chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts can make your grocery budget a little more manageable and can help to add variety in your cooking.
New Take on Leftovers
Recent years have shown an increase in cooking shows that focus on how you can transform regular leftovers. “Sandra’s Money Savings Meals” calls it a Round 2 Recipe while “Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day” provides much more than just one leftover meal. The concept is basically the same: by using portions of a meal you can create meals for other days of the week. This extends the grocery budget and even helps cut down on cooking time during the week.
Purchase in Bulk
Wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are great for families working with a limited grocery budget. Long run savings comes from commonly used items, like toilet paper and paper towels, and there are even membership options that offer cash back on purchases throughout the year.
Many families aren’t aware of just how many items can be frozen. Things like tomato sauce, tomato paste, soup, stock, rice, some fruits and even bread can be frozen to help cut down on waste. All too often a loaf of bread will go moldy before running out, but freezing it will allow for use far longer than it would normally last. Check out this handy list of items you can freeze to save time and money, and be sure to check out this list from the National Center for Home Food Preservation for information on how to freeze various items.
While you may not want to buy generic on every single thing on your grocery list, there are some things that are practically identical. Read the labels on your commonly purchased food items and you might be surprised how the generic option compares. Whether it’s the store brand for your kids’ favorite fruit bars or the lotion you slather on each morning, going generic on little things can decrease your overall food bill.
Price It Out
Oftentimes the price will seem too good to pass up with a buy one, get one free deal, but the breakdown of the price will be the same. Don’t be fooled into purchasing something you don’t need.
Taking the extra time to check out online, newspaper or in-store coupons can really help slim down your food bill. Don’t be afraid to use them in the checkout lane. While you might be a little timid at first, that shyness will soon turn into a smile when you see how much you’ve saved on the receipt.