8 Ways to Stretch Your Family’s Food Budget. No Coupons needed!
Some lucky people seem to be born with the budgeting gene. I am not one of them. I have been slowly trying to re-train myself to stick to a budget that works for my family, and to pay attention to the details that make a budget work for us. I want to maintain my family’s budget, but still be able for us to enjoy delicious meals. I truly believe that with a few tips and tricks, anyone can save money without sacrificing quality. I am really excited to get to share everything that I have learned with you! Like a lot of families, sometimes things can get a little tight unexpectedly, so planting a garden to grow your own food, or buying everything in bulk, isn’t always feasible. Thankfully, these strategies will help you stretch your budget, keeping amazing healthy food on the table for your whole family. Not only will they help keep you within your budget when you are in a pinch, but they are tips that you can use for a lifetime.
Let’s get started!
1. First things first, you need to clean out your freezer, fridge, pantry and cabinets. Throw out any spoiled or stale food, donate anything you don’t want, and make an inventory of everything that is left. Most people often have more useful food on hand than they realize. You might be able to find several more meals, even if it’s just spaghetti or pancakes. I use Supercook.com to find recipes when all I seem to have is odds and ends. You just plug in what you have, and it pulls up a whole list of recipes.
2. With your inventory at hand, it’s time to make your grocery list.
The most important thing you need to do when you get to the store is to NOT stray from your list! It is too easy to get distracted, especially if you are hungry, or have others with you. Focus! Stick to the task at hand! When making your list, start by making a meal plan that will make the most use of any leftovers that you have. When you roast a chicken, you can use the leftover meat on a salad, and then use the bones (and any leftover vegetables/peels) to make an incredible chicken soup. Get creative! Plan to use leftover bread to make croutons, or bake unused tortillas to use as chips. Leftover tomatoes make great salsa, by the way.
3. Stick to the outside aisles when you are in the store.
Two thirds of your shopping should be on the perimeter of the store The fresh foods and produce that you will find are healthier, and generally cheaper than the processed foods that are in the center aisles. Staying on track will be easier when you aren’t zigzagging through the store.
4. Focus on nutrient dense food.
These will get you the most bang for your buck, and buy in bulk when you can. Some great options are: rice, dry beans, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, eggs, and peanut butter. These things can work for a lot of different meals. Most of all, they are cheap, healthy, and often on sale.
5. Learn to cook from scratch.
We live in an age where we have a wealth of information at our fingertips. A quick google search will show you how many convenience foods, and meal helpers can be made at home, often with what you already have on hand. Cooking meals in advance can be a great way to avoid ordering takeout. I often freeze leftovers, so we have something quick to pop in the oven when I am short on time.
6. Pay attention to what fruits and vegetables are in season.
Shop at a nearby farmer's market or food co-op. When you buy what's in season, you buy food that's at the peak of its supply, so it costs less for farmers and distribution companies to get to your local farmer’s market, or grocery store. Another upside to eating in season is that you get the best tasting, healthiest food available at that time. I don’t have the time to go to the store everyday, so I have to stock up for the week when I do my shopping. I don’t worry about my produce spoiling before I have the chance to use them when I keep them in my Green Bags.
7. Skip the cake, but don’t skip dessert!
Fruit is sweet enough to replace any dessert that you find in the bakery. A bowl of strawberries, or watermelon will satisfy your sweet tooth for a fraction of the cost. It is healthier, too!
8. I think that the best trick that I have up my sleeve is to clean, dry, and store your produce promptly when you get home.
Taking a few extra minutes to get everything neatly tucked away will drastically prolong the life of your produce. I can’t tell you how often I opened the drawers in my refrigerator to find that my lettuce was too limp, or my tomatoes had turned to complete mush. Having to throw those things away hurt my heart, and my wallet! I have saved a lot of money by using Evert Fresh Green bags. They help your fresh produce fight the battle against ethylene gas, a byproduct given off by produce as it ripens. This gas is also responsible for accelerating the decay of food. Green Bags provide a completely natural method of removing ethylene gas from ripening fruits and vegetables. They are 100% completely safe for food storage, and when used properly, can greatly increase the life of fresh produce. The best part is that they are reusable, BPA free, and made from food safe materials. I love my Green Bags, and I know you will too. Get yours here.
Thanks for reading!