Tag: saving money

Cheap Eats: 10 Top Tips to Make Marvelous Meals with Less Money

Potatoes (2)

 

Groceries are becoming more expensive every year, with no relief in sight, making it more important than ever to stretch every dollar. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimated average cost to feed a family of 4 runs between $146 to $289 per week, so if you’d like to stick to the lower end of that average, you’ll have to learn to be a smart shopper and find ways to be frugal.

Below are 10 tips to make meals your family will love while spending less money at the grocery store:

 

1. Timing Matters—

Studies have shown that because stores start sales mid-week, this is the best time to grocery shop for items marked down because of impending expiration dates.

Food close to expiry that can be frozen will save your family big bucks if you have freezer space in which to store it.

 

2. Frozen is Frugal—

Frozen vegetables will often have more vitamins than fresh vegetables because they are fresh when frozen, and haven’t journeyed from their original destination to sit losing nutrition in a produce section.

Meat can also be bought in bulk, separated into smaller portions, and then frozen to save money.

 

3. Buy Dry—

There are many dry goods that offer nutritious meal options with endless seasoning possibilities that can make meals delicious as well as affordable.

Rice is a great high-fiber grain that fills people up for less, and is gluten-free for those who are intolerant.

Beans bought dry, rather than canned, are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Beans also create a complete protein when combined with rice, allowing diners to skip expensive meat dishes.

 

4. You Say Potato, I Say Big Savings—

Potatoes are consistently one of the cheapest fresh foods offered, and the most versatile. A big bag of these vitamin C and potassium rich vegetables can be made into healthy baked potatoes and fries, or mashed with butter, garlic, sour cream and anything else you’d like to add.

Side dishes, casseroles, crock pot soups and stews can all benefit from these spuds, and fill up the hungriest growing children in a nutritious way. So skip the processed foods full of preservatives and get back to these basic staples.

 

5. Don’t Obey the List—

While making a shopping list can help us save money by eliminating gasoline-wasting trips to the store for 1 or 2 items, don’t be afraid to skip the non-necessities written down if the price isn’t right.

Try to find these foods cheaper later if a price is higher than you’re used to seeing. You tend to know the prices of items you regularly purchase, so if it seems expensive, your instinct is probably correct.

 

6. Price Match, Please—

Many stores now offer price matching, which means that if you have a flyer with a cheaper price on any item they carry, they will match that price to keep your business (money) in-store.

The bigger grocery chains are known for starting this program, but many other grocery stores are also offering price matching in order to stay competitive. It never hurts to ask, right?

 

7. Sale Stock Ups—

When foods you’re sure your family will eat with longer expiration dates go on sale, stock up on them to save money later.

If you have a decent-sized or extra freezer, this is a great way to save money on meat and other frozen goods when they go down in price as well.

 

8. Slow Cook the Savings—

The secret weapon of creative cooks on a budget is the slow cooker. Offering a high improvisation factor, a crock pot can be a great way to use up the vegetables or other leftovers in your refrigerator before they go bad to stretch food even further.

A bigger batch of stew or soup means ingredients can be bought in bulk, saving money, and there will be plenty of leftovers to cover lunches, too.

 

9. Online is Fine—

If you’re an impulsive shopper and tend to come home with multiple items that weren’t on the list, you might consider grocery shopping online.

This may sound strange, but actually many larger chains are exploring this option and offering free shipping after a certain amount.

Obviously, you will still have to go to the store to purchase perishables like produce and meat or frozen foods, but if you buy all the dry goods online, you’ll at least lessen the time spent near potentially tempting impulse items.

 

10. Minimize Monetary Contact—

The less you shop, the less you’ll spend in a week, so resolve to only shop on one day and stay away from the stores unless absolutely necessary.

Shopping solo is also highly recommended, because having more people to grab impulse items around is a quick way to fill up a shopping cart with things you don’t need.

Plus, if you’re alone you can concentrate better, and maybe you’ll actually remember those coupons you keep forgetting to use.

 

Shopping on a tight budget can be a challenge, but with a good grocery plan involving the useful tips above, you can save money and feed your family affordable meals that still taste expensively delicious.

No Food Left Behind: Money-Saving Tips to Give Leftovers New Life

Pasta Primavera (2)

 

Throwing away uneaten food is like throwing away money, and none of us can really afford to do that; yet leftover foods often languish in the refrigerator, slowly moving past the point of edible. This is generally because nobody wants to eat the same meal over and over again. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Fortunately for frugally-minded moms and dime-pinching dads, there are plenty of tricks to turn leftover food into completely different meals, reducing waste and saving money. Below is a list of 8 tips recommended by smart cooks who know how to keep the food budget low and the flavor factor high.

 

Top Tips to Give Leftovers a New Life: 

 

1. Consider a Casserole—

If your meal last night involved separate meat and vegetable dishes, don’t be afraid to combine them into a casserole by chopping them up, and then adding cheese, bread crumbs, eggs or whatever else sounds like it might work.

Some of the best recipes your family will love come from impromptu experiments such as these, so don’t be afraid to get creative. And if it works well, quickly write down the ingredients so you can recreate the magic again another time.

 

2. Contemplate a Quiche—

Extra veggies leftover, such as broccoli or cauliflower? A vegetable and cheese quiche is a great way to get healthy food into your family while using up side dishes that might have been thrown away.

As eggs are the main ingredient, a quiche offers plenty of protein, but if you want to include meat, such as bacon or diced ham, this will only enhance the cheesy deliciousness of your fluffy fare, so add ingredients freely.

 

3. Super Sandwiches—

To give last night’s meat dish a new life, dice it into small pieces or use a food processor if desired, add mayonnaise and seasonings, and… voila! You now have chicken or turkey salad, or perhaps even a fancy version of tuna salad featuring salmon or tilapia.

Hardboiled eggs, pickles, olives, celery or even capers can be added to give new life to meat-salad sandwiches, and don’t forget that lettuce and tomato can add a nice, fresh element.

 

4. Bring Back the Bread—

Breathe new life into stale bread by using it to make French toast: extra can even be refrigerated or frozen for later breakfasts.

When seasoned, cubed and toasted in the oven, bread you might have fed to the birds can now be added to salads for crunch and flavor.

Bread can also be dried, blended into crumbs and saved to use for coating chicken and fish. Making kids homemade chicken nuggets with your leftover breadcrumbs is an excellent way to not only save money, but feed them a healthier version this usually-processed favorite.

And don’t forget bread pudding, the old-fashioned dessert created expressly to use up bread before it expires. There are plenty of modern versions of this recipe out there—or you can always make up your own awesome new one.

 

5. Tortillas to the Rescue—

Whether you’re making wraps, fajitas or burritos, tortillas can serve as a wonderful way to present last night’s leftovers in an entirely original manner.

Adding salsa, cheese, avocadoes, tomatoes, lettuce, or sour cream to diced pieces of steak or chicken can turn baked, boring cuts of last night’s meat into a fun family fiesta!

Also: If you’ve turned leftover meat into a chicken, turkey or tuna salad, layer it with lettuce and tomatoes to make a fresh, healthy lunch wrap.

 

6. Pass the Pasta—

By keeping spare jars of marinara and Alfredo in the pantry, you can dice up last night’s dinner meat and vegetables and add them to a red or cream sauce. Feel free to throw in the mushrooms that need to be used before they go bad, or any other soon-expiring vegetables in your crisper to prevent waste.

By serving your saucy creation over good old affordable pasta, you’ll give your family a nutritious Italian-style meal that tastes nothing like last night’s dinner.

 

8. Bring It to Breakfast—

Scrambled or in an omelet, plenty of dinner items like cooked vegetables and diced meats can make a hearty and satisfying breakfast for the whole family.

Baked or grilled potatoes from last night’s dinner can be cut up, then fried or baked to create hash-browns or diced breakfast potatoes that go great with eggs, bacon, or biscuits and gravy.

 

With a creative mind and some crafty culinary moves, it’s easy to use up leftover food that might have been thrown away. Save money and eliminate pointless food waste with the helpful tips above to give leftovers a chance to become a new meal.