Have you found yourself wondering “How to stretch my food budget?” It’s no secret that grocery prices are rising at a rapid pace, but we all still have to keep our family’s fed. So what can we do to keep everyone’s belly full without spending more than absolutely necessary at the grocery store? Fortunately, there are a few tips that you can use to stretch your grocery dollar further.
How to Stretch Your Food Budget
I know I’m not the only one feeling the sticker shock each time I check out at the grocery store. To help keep my grocery budget in check I’ve begun checking local sales each week, having a leftover night or two and doing more meal planning. I have a weekly meal plan printable you are welcome to download and use. After doing a bit of research and talking with some friends, I’ve compiled a list of tips for stretching your grocery dollars further.
Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Before heading out to the grocery store, make sure that you check the local sales fliers to see what might be on sale. Take a look at your pantry, freezer, and fridge to see what you already have on hand, and also make note of anything that needs to be used before it goes bad.
Once you see what you have, make a menu for the week, and make a list of what items you will need to purchase from the grocery store. When it is time to go to the store make sure that you stick to the list so that you don’t overspend on unnecessary items. You might find this Meal Planner Notebook helpful.
Use Grocery Savings Apps and Loyalty Cards
There are several grocery store savings apps that give you cash back, or gift cards in exchange for purchasing specific products. These savings can add up over time and help you to save money, or at least get some back on your food purchases. If your local grocery store has a loyalty or rewards program make sure that you use it. You can get extra savings on your groceries through these programs and they are free to use.
Meat is likely one of your most expensive purchases at the grocery store so make it a point to have a meal or two each week that doesn’t have meat in it. There are many amazing meals that are hearty and delicious that don’t have meat as an ingredient. These Classic Baked Penne Pasta with Ricotta, Black Bean Cakes with Salsa and Baked Ravioli Lasagna Casserole are a few of my favorite meatless recipes.
Stretch the Meals that do have Meat
You can stretch meals that do have meat in them by adding beans, rice, or extra vegetables to them. Are you having vegetable soup to use up your leftover veggies in the fridge? Add a ½ cup of rice or a can of beans to the pot to get an extra serving or two. Does your family enjoy casseroles? If so, you can use a small amount of diced or shredded meat in them, and an extra handful of vegetables to fill them out.
Use Your Leftovers
Stretch your food budget by eating leftovers. I know this sounds obvious, but think about how much you threw out the last time you cleaned your fridge. Don’t throw away your leftovers or leave them in the refrigerator for so long that they are no longer recognizable. You can have a night each week where all of the leftovers are what’s for dinner, or you can plan ways to use your leftovers. For example, the leftover chicken from last night’s roasted chicken can be used in tortillas with some veggies for burritos or tossed into a stir fry or on top of a salad. A quick chicken fried rice is great too.
Do you regularly have a few tablespoons of veggies leftover from dinner? It may not seem like it’s enough to save, but it will add up over time. Get a freezer-safe container and put those last spoonfuls inside. Each time you have a few spoonfuls add them to the container. Before you know it you will have enough frozen leftover veggies for a hearty vegetable soup that costs you nothing to make.
Buy in Bulk
If you have the space to store it, you can frequently get groceries at a lower cost by buying in bulk. If you don’t have the freezer space or pantry space for bulk buying you could consider going in with a family member or friend so that you both get the savings, but don’t have to have extra storage space.
Visit the Ethnic Grocery Stores
If you have never checked out your local ethnic grocery stores or markets you should. Ethnic grocery stores often have much better prices on all kinds of goods than the chain grocery stores do. You can often find the same foods, perhaps in a different brand or packaging, that are higher quality and cost less than the chain store.
Go to the Farmer’s Market
Have you noticed that the quality of the produce at the local grocery store chain is lacking lately? That’s because produce is sitting in warehouses, or on trucks for longer so it’s not at its best when it reaches the store. Try buying your produce from the local farmer’s market instead. Buying produce at the Farmer’s Market is a great way to stretch your food budget AND support local farms. Not only are you supporting your local community, the quality of your produce should improve too.
These tips should help you to stretch your grocery dollar a little further so that you can keep your family comfortably fed. Do you have any additional tips to share for stretching your grocery dollar further?
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