By making a few changes in how you shop, you can stretch your buying power. If you are someone who enjoys eating out, restrict that to several days a week, preferably one. It will make a huge difference in how much you spend on food. Still, home-cooked meals can be expensive. These ideas will help you save on grocery shopping.
1. Switch to ground turkey instead of ground beef, or red meat in general. Ground turkey is delicious, less expensive, and much healthier for you as it contains less fat. It can be used in family meals that go the distance. Try it in chili, spaghetti, meatballs, tacos, etc. Mix ground turkey with onion soup mix for flavorful burgers and freeze as patties to enjoy anytime. Shop at discount grocery stores and purchase in quantity.
2. Get acquainted with dry beans. Cooking dry beans might seem a little intimidating to the novice, but they really are not that difficult to prepare. You just need to allow time for soaking (which can be done conveniently overnight). In the morning, follow the package directions and put them on to simmer. If you have a crock pot, this is a great time to use it. A little smoked turkey or turkey ham can be used to flavor the beans. You can find recipes online, but the basic recipe on the bag works just fine. Pair beans with rice for a protein-rich meal. Don't feel like the long wait? Lentils cook up much faster. Try split pea with turkey ham. It will be done in less than an hour.
3. Stretch meat by combining it with vegetables, rice or pasta in a casserole. Casseroles are well suited for budget meals and perfect midweek. Freeze several casseroles to save on time as well. If a recipe calls for cheese, try just adding the cheese to the top. You will use less, but still have a nice melted cheese topping. Cream soups, such as mushroom or chicken, can make a quick casserole. Just add in vegetables, cooked meat, and top with cheese.
4. Instead of having a pizza night, top large baked potatoes with pizza toppings. These are a big hit with the young and old, and are easy to make. Bake potatoes as you normally would, have an assortment of sauce, cheese and toppings available. Split the potatoes and let each individual top their own for fun, and then pop into the oven until melted. Add a green salad and a simple dessert for a special Saturday meal.
5. Purchase whole chicken legs. Invest in a sharp knife if you do not have one to make dividing them easy. Visit a meat store where you can buy in bulk. Set aside a little time to clean and separate the legs, and then package for the freezer. If that sounds like just too much work, then at a minimum purchase the large value packs of legs and thighs and then separate them into smaller portions for freezing when you get home.
6. Eggs and cheese in the fridge at all times. Compared to meat, eggs and cheese are a
good value. Instead of buying cheese slices that are individually wrapped, visit your deli counter and purchase by the pound and keep in a plastic bag or container to keep it fresh. Whip up an egg and cheese sandwich or omelet for breakfast or brunch. Boiled eggs make a great snack, or can be diced and mixed with salad dressing for a sandwich.
7. Never purchase small bags of rice. Even if you are single, purchase at least several pounds at a time. If you have a large family, you should buy at least a 10 pound bag or more. Rice keeps well and you can store it in a plastic container with lid to protect it. The savings are substantial and it can be an addition to most meals.
8. Keep lots of fruits and veggies on hand for snacking. Fruit can be expensive, so look out for sales, visit a farmer's marker or discount store. Apples and bananas make healthy snacks, satisfy the urge for something sweet, and are less expensive than a slice of cheesecake. Celery and carrots are delicious with a little ranch dip.
9. Keep inexpensive crackers in the pantry. Saltine-style crackers can be purchased in quantity in a metal tin. They accompany soup well, tuna or chicken salad, and peanut butter and jelly can be sandwiched between them.
10. Purchase a case of Ramen noodles. These square blocks of noodles are especially versatile. Make the soup as is, or use the noodles to make a quick stir fry using vegetables, meat, or seafood, or any combination.
By following these 10 tips, and by keeping your eye on sales circulars and specials and shopping at discount grocery stores, you can cut the fat from your grocery bill. With the money you save on grocery shopping, you will be able to have enough money to splurge on the weekend.