food money

Ten Tips for Extending Your Food Budget

in Food

Strapped for cash? In a poor economy, it becomes even more important to save money. Try these tips to reduce the grocery bills.

Everyone can use a little extra money. Without a plan, a simple trip to the grocery store can wind up costing much more than intended. In this economy, it is important to plan a budget and find simple ways to save. Whether you are cooking for one or for a family, extending a food budget is easy with a few tricks. Follow these ten tips to reduce the amount spent on groceries without it feeling like a sacrifice.

  1. Plan Ahead — On the weekend, create a meal plan for the following week. Use this plan to organize a shopping list for all the necessary groceries. Having a plan and sticking to it will reduce the number of impulse buys and items that go to waste.
  2. Clip (or Download) Coupons — When making the weekly meal plan, check for specials and coupons in the newspaper or online. Many websites like now carry coupons that can be redeemed at any major grocery store and restaurants.
  3. Take Advantage of Sales — When the supermarket has a particularly good sale, take advantage of it. Focus the weekly meal plan on items that are on sale. Or, consider buying extra of favorite items and freezing them. Produce, bread, and even milk can be frozen and used later. Combining sales with coupons can lead to enormous grocery discounts.
  4. Buy in Season — Ever wonder why fruit is so much more expensive in the winter? The cost of shipping factors into the final price on the shelves. Fresh produce at the peak of its season will always cost less than items that must be shipped in from another continent. Look for items grown locally and consider checking out a nearby farmer’s market for great deals.
  5. Look for Non-Perishables in Bulk — There are certain items that a family is going to use. Buying items like rice, dried beans, and pasta in bulk saves money. Dried beans may take more time to prepare, but the incredible pricing makes them worthwhile.
  6. Prepare Meals in Bulk — If the grocery store has a particularly good deal on a non-perishable item, buy extra. Stews, soups, casseroles, and lasagna all freeze well, to name a few. Preparing meals in bulk is also a good idea for families with busy schedules. A home-cooked meal is ready to go, with only reheating needed.
  7. Extend Meals with Dried Goods — Use dried rice or beans to extend a meal that is already being served. These items cost just pennies per serving and go with anything.
  8. Get Creative With Leftovers — Don’t let extras go to waste. Leftovers can be added to soups, stews, or stir-fries to extend them. Even the bones from a turkey or chicken can be used to make homemade stock.
  9. Go Meatless — Once or twice a week, serve vegetarian options for dinner. Meatless meals are typically less expensive than serving meals, plus the family may find new favorite foods.
  10. Reduce Waste — Keep track of how much food gets thrown out due to spoilage and work to reduce that. Many items can still be used when they are past their prime. For instance, browning bananas may look unappealing, but their sweetness makes them perfect for banana bread.

Home-cooked family dinners are a great way to spend time together and save money. Cooking at home is much cheaper than going to restaurants. Pick up a new cookbook or check out a new recipe on the web this week. Reducing the grocery budget does not mean sacrificing taste.

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