Living with a large family, I can say food was a big stress to a lot of us. Being frugal and smart with our spending habits still apply to every aspect of our lives. As a young girl in my 20’s I’m constantly looking for ways to save money and stretch every dollar. Here are a few tricks I learned, to save while still eating well, and eating food you love!
1. Meal Plan
Meal planning can be as easy as deciding on three meals for the week. I normally start with what I have a lot of or need to eat in my kitchen and add to that. More often than not fresh fruit and veggies are your best friend, since they can be added to everything to make it heartier and tastier. As long as you have food that you can eat in many different ways you are already 1 step ahead in meal planning. Also, don’t forget to think of a few cheap, healthy snacks before going to the grocery store, so you aren’t tempted to reach for that box of Little Debbies. I recommend investing in protein bars or adding a few more fresh fruit to your grocery cart.
2. Sales & Seasons
Try to estimate how much you want to spend on your trip and calculate in your head how much each item should cost before leaving. This will help you determine whether the price they have on an item is what you are willing to spend. If you have that total in your head of what you want to spend for your grocery run it is easier to cut items, swap out pricey items for sale items, or even splurge at a moments notice. Other stores like Family Dollar, Sam’s Club or Walmart might have some of the items on your list for a cheaper price. That way you could spend a little more on greens, or maybe even that box of cookies….
Just like sales, seasons and current environmental changes around the world can help to determine when it’s a good time to buy something. Learning what fruits and veggies to buy at what times of the year can make your plate more festive and cost less money.
3. Buy In Bulk
This step might looks like it cost more up-front but it will pay off in the long run. Whether it be rice, chicken or things like feminine products or toilet paper, buy in bulk the things you use often. I personally love to buy my snacks, basic foods, and feminine products this way, that way I know it’s costing less and I don’t have to worry about running out before my next shopping run.
4. If You Won’t Eat It, Don’t Buy It
Extra food in the fridge and in cupboards that no one is eating and keeps getting pushed to the back is not money well spent. Having four extra balsamic vinegars, soups or condiments is 30$ that you could have been spent on something more essential. Sometimes it’s hard to leave a grocery store without a few more things added to your cart. Perhaps it was on sale and you just had to reach for that bottle of pop or a can of ravioli, whatever the impulse was -Did you need it? If you don’t need it or it will bring excess to your kitchen feel free to shamelessly set it back on the shelf.
Learning how to freeze foods is another trick that can save you time and money in your kitchen. Freezing allows you to stock up on items, and can be helpful when making meals in advance so you can pull them out later already prepped. This one step can be particularly helpful if buying in bulk because you no longer have to worry about a bag of spinach going bad. Portion it. And freeze it!