Lower your food bill
photo by galant
Low-budget meals are in high demand. They have the reputation of being high in fat or lacking nutrition, but you have to consider the ingredients you’re using. If you’re cooking a fatty cut of meat, then avoid pairing it with high-fat side dishes. Be creative and willing to compromise. Here are a few more budget food tips.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: If fresh ingredients are too expensive, then substitute frozen or canned. If you’re buying canned, check the sodium content. Buy fruits and vegetables when they’re in season. Check out pick-your-own farms and local farmers markets. Check the flyers for sales so you can get your recommended daily allowance for the best price. Buy green vegetables more often than starchy vegetables.
BREADS, GRAINS AND PASTA: Look for day-old breads or visit a bread outlet. Think whole grain and limit white bread. If you find a good deal, take advantage of it and freeze your bread. Learn to make your own, too. If you don’t have time to make it from scratch, try a bread maker. If you can’t finish a bag of bread, rolls, bagels or English muffins, put it in the freezer before it gets stale or moldy. Buy more oatmeal than boxed cereal to keep the cost down, and make pancakes, waffles and French toast. Aim for a pasta dish each week to stretch your grocery budget.
MEAT AND POULTRY: Buy bulk packages. Ask when the store discounts its meat. Look into the price of buying a side of beef. Price compare your supermarket meat and poultry with your local meat market. Find new recipes for lower-cost poultry, such as whole chicken, drumsticks and thighs. Decrease meat and poultry portions and increase vegetable portions. Cube or cut your meat and poultry into strips to make it stretch. Trim fat and skin to lower fat. Check to see whether your supermarket discounts its rotisserie chicken. Less expensive meats can be marinated and slow cooked, so they’re tender. Use the parts you don’t eat to make stock.
DAIRY: Substitute margarine for butter sometimes to keep costs down. You can freeze many dairy products, so stock up during sales. Be flexible with your meal planning. It’s OK to have breakfast for dinner. Check expiration dates so you don’t buy short-dated food.
FATS: Lean toward foods with natural fats rather than overusing margarine and butter. Use fats sparingly. Limit salty and sugary snacks. For example, choose popcorn or homemade muffins over a package of cookies. Grill or bake with your favorite herbs and spices.
— Any foods you have left over can be frozen to use later in sauces, soups, casseroles or stir-fry.
— Check store ads for sales, use coupons when possible and shop with a list.
— When at the checkout, do an audit on your cart to check for unnecessary purchases.
— Try store brands and keep a list of the foods you like.
— Limit snacks and prepared and highly processed foods.
— When buying juice, opt for less expensive frozen over fresh.
— Always check your receipt for errors.
— Look through your phone book for “salvage” grocery stores.
— Consider growing a garden or joining a CSA (community-supported agriculture).