In this day and age, it’s important to recognize what’s a necessity and what’s a luxury. It’s way too easy to blow our money on takeout food because it’s the easiest and quickest way to figure out lunch when we’re too tired to function.
But here’s the thing. The easiest way to reduce your expenses is to go over your food budget and make a few smart adjustments. There are a lot of ways to weed out all the things that aren’t vital in your grocery list. So, here are some awesome suggestions that will keep that grocery budget even tighter.
How to Tighten Your Grocery Budget Even More
Start Planning Your Meals
Take inventory of everything in the fridge and pantry so you can plan what you’ll need to buy at the grocery store. We’re going through an unprecedented time in history, so now is the time to carefully think about what meals you’ll be cooking, what products you’re running low on, and what food ingredients will have a long shelf life.
When you go to the store, (or order online) stick to whatever’s on the list. This will prevent any costly and unnecessary impulse buys like chips, chocolate bars, and soft drinks that were on sale.
Now is The Perfect Time to Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk reduces the number of trips you’ll need to make to the store. Plus, most of the times, larger-sized packages offer some pretty sweet deals. Just make sure to divide the cost by the number of ounces or liters to find the price per unit and see if you’re actually getting a good deal. You’ll also want to make sure to check if these bulk products have a long expiration date on the package. As a bonus tip, you might want to consider buying in bulk with a family member or neighbor if you’re worried about something spoiling.
Cut Down Your Meat Intake by 70%
Everyone loves a nice, juicy T-bone steak, or a pot roast once in a while, but if you’re looking to adjust your grocery budget, consider reducing meat intake by 60 or 70 percent because meat is really expensive. There are plenty of great vegetarian items to choose from like quinoa, rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, and tofu. Instead of having meat for lunch and dinner, consider going vegetarian at night. There are lots of delicious recipes online that will help you transition to part-time vegetarian that tastes just as good.
Look for Hidden Gems Like Cabbage and Sweet Potatoes
Cabbage and sweet potatoes are super budget friendly. They’re also long-lasting and will keep you full for hours. They can be used to make a variety of dishes like cabbage soup, orange cabbage slaw, vegetable pie, stir fry, or cabbage rolls. Sweet potatoes are very flavorful and can be used in a number of ways to make recipes like a sweet potato breakfast bowl, sweet potato grits and even sweet potato mash. The frozen and canned versions work just as well and they’re just as nutritious as the fresh ones.
Be Mindful of Items That Expire Quickly
Don’t assume that a low-cost product is always the best option simply because it’s on sale. Items like strawberries can get moldy in the fridge fairly quick unless you eat them right away. Focus on buying rice and canned goods that have a longer shelf life. Frozen food is a great grocery staple because it can last for several months. Also, buy lactose-free or non-fat milk which will last up to 10 days as opposed to whole milk that can last anywhere from 5 to 7 days.
Always Have a Fallback Meal in Mind
There’ll be days when it’ll be easier to pick up the phone and order a large pizza with a side order of wings and bread sticks. This may be a convenient option, but it also costs about $40 per week, which is about $160 a month. So, consider having a couple of fallback meals, or in other words, the meals that don’t require running to the store to pick up a missing ingredient and can get cooked in a short amount of time. Here are a few examples that are super easy to make:
- Shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and coleslaw tacos: You’ll only need to boil the shrimp since the veggies don’t need to be cooked. You can buy coleslaw dip at the grocery store or make and freeze your own.
- Baked Layered Taco Pie: This quick and easy taco bake will satisfy even the most picky eaters. Layer tortillas with ground beef or turkey, cheese and salsa and bake in the oven!
- Pasta with spaghetti sauce and cream: You’ll only need to boil the pasta. Mix heavy cream or cream cheese with spaghetti sauce and voila!
Ask a Store Manager About Ripe Produce
If a recipe calls for apples or bananas, or your family loves smoothies, make sure to ask the manager for over-ripe produce, which some stores sell at a reduced price. Apples and bananas can be used to make desserts, smoothies and breads, but just make sure to use them right away or they’ll spoil and it will be a waste of money.
Limit the Number of Ingredients in a Meal
Keep meals simple by limiting the number of ingredients you use to make them. This helps avoid the unnecessary urge to waste money on over-the-top ingredients that are way too pricey. Also, consider substituting a missing ingredient with any the food items you’ve got in the fridge.
For example, applesauce or mashed banana provide the same results in a pancake mixture as eggs. White rice can be replaced by quinoa, riced cauliflower, or riced broccoli.
Well, there you go! Now, start your planning and save some money! These simple tips can be used to cut your budget.
Make sure you read my 10 Meal Planning Tips for the Busy Mom to help you on this journey.