7 Simple Ways to Save on Food Costs
Food may be a basic need, but it takes a pretty good bite out of our budgets. Grocery bills can easily push the limits of a monthly budget, especially with rising food costs. You can do something about it by learning to stretch your dollars and still feed yourself or your family a variety of tasty, healthy foods every day.
Begin by creating a weekly meal plan and head to the grocery store with a well-defined list. The more specific the better, as nothing pushes that budget to the limit as impulse purchases not on the list. Beyond that, try any or all of these 7 tips for smart savings. They add up!
1. RAID YOUR PANTRY.
Start by rediscovering what you already have on hand. A neglected bag of barley or carton of chicken stock can jump-start one or two dinners.
2. CHOOSE BUDGET-FRIENDLY BASICS.
Some of the least expensive foods are also healthy and versatile. Eggs, pasta, rice, chicken and frozen vegetables go a long way. Then, be sure to look at what’s on special before cruising the store aisles.
3. BUY NONPERISHABLES IN BULK.
If you have the space, buy items like cereal, oats, rice, nuts and frozen foods in bulk. Snapware® has a variety of efficient, space-saving food-storage containers to keep those bulk purchases organized. But keep it real. Only buy the massively sized condiments if you really go through that much ketchup on a weekly basis.
4. REPURPOSE MORE RECIPES.
Tonight’s chicken stir-fry with steamed rice can turn into tomorrow’s leftover veggies with eggs for breakfast and chicken with salad for lunch. Be creative and try this whenever possible—you might find some unexpectedly good combinations. Need a jump-start of ideas? Check out the helpful Snapware “Love Those Leftovers” tips.
5. CLIP SMARTER.
Redeeming coupons is a balance between finding good prices on your usual items and grabbing deals on things you wouldn’t normally purchase (which is a great time to try a new recipe). Keep an eye out for sales on staples like meat, and create meal plans or prepare dinners accordingly. Remember to look beyond the newspaper and check supermarkets’ websites, e-newsletters or in-store coupon books.
6. CONSIDER A DIFFERENT CUT.
Meat is one of the most expensive grocery items, but cheaper cuts shine when prepared in a slow cooker with the right seasonings. Why? Tougher cuts of meat (think rump, shank and shoulders that bear the most weight) get us to cheaper meals. Using these in the slow cooker unlocks magic because cooking tougher proteins low, slow and in moist heat tenderizes tough meats. Or try using sausage and beef as flavor components to meals rather than the main protein, and pump up your entrée with beans and rice, quinoa, soy or eggs. (Meatless meals can also help save on food costs.)
7. PICK PRODUCE BY THE CALENDAR.
Seasonal fruits and veggies are more affordable and much tastier, so it’s a double win. A large watermelon in summer or a hefty butternut squash in winter can go a long way to round out meals while trimming the budget.
The trend toward whole foods and homemade meals is more than just healthful; it’s also good for your wallet. Think like our parents and grandparents and choose more nonprocessed foods—pick dried beans over canned, roast a chicken instead of buying a rotisserie chicken from the deli, and make soup from scratch instead of the canned variety.
For on-the-go options, such as lunches and snacks, replace chips and bars with less-expensive and more-healthful bananas and apples. The money you’ll save beats the prepackaged shortcuts any day, and the better taste is a bonus you just can’t buy.
YOUR TURN: Share your budget-stretching ideas.