How to Extend Your Grocery Dollars Without Extending Your Time in the Kitchen
Many of us have a constant struggle between our desire to feed our families delicious and nutritious meals, our need to remain within a given budget, and our limited amount of time to spend in the kitchen. This struggle can lead to eating out at restaurants or picking up food through a drive thru on our way home. As a result, we are missing out on quality time together, sacrificing the quality of the food we feed our family, and spending much more on food than we should.
Making a few changes can save us money and time, and enable us to feed the ones that we love in a manner of which we can be proud. Here are some suggestions:
- Buy fresh foods that are in season. Foods that are in season are usually priced better than those that are grown year round and flown from far away places to our super markets.
- Buy in bulk. Instead of having a large amount of a specialty item in your pantry, such as flours, nuts, grains, or spices, go to a store that has bulk bins and buy only what you will need for the recipe you have planned. This will save space and money.
- Stock up on items you commonly use when you find them on sale.
- Eat less meat and dairy. There are many protein sources that are much cheaper than meat and dairy that are high quality proteins. Consider beans, quinoa, tofu, or tempeh for a change.
- Eat more raw foods. To save yourself time cooking, eat something raw such as a fruit or vegetable.
- Cut your own fruits and vegetables. You will waste a lot of money buying pre-cut produce, so cut your own as soon as you get home from the store to save time later.
- Buy frozen family size entrees that can be used as the center of a meal. Add grains, salad, vegetables, or bread as sides to round out the meal and get your money’s worth.
- Make a double batch when cooking or baking and freeze half. Soups, casseroles, breads, muffins, cookies, etc. all freeze very well. It does not take much more time to make two casseroles instead of one. You will appreciate the extra work when you can pull a needed meal out of the freezer during an especially busy week.
- Soak and cook your own beans. Beans are a very inexpensive source of protein and fiber. Soak beans during the day and then put them in a slow cooker on low for about 8 hours.
- Buy frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables maintain much of the nutrition of fresh vegetables. Buying frozen vegetables gives you an opportunity to bulk up a meal inexpensively with minimal preparation time.
- Grow a garden. If your climate allows, grow a vegetable garden. However, anyone can save money by growing an herb garden within their kitchen.
- Eat oatmeal instead of cold cereal. Oatmeal is extremely nutrient dense, easy to make in large batches, and inexpensive. Instead of buying pre-sweetened packages, buy oats in bulk and sweeten yours the way you like it at home. To save time, you could make a large batch in the slow-cooker and portion it out for the week.
Do you have any ideas to add? How do you save money on groceries? Share your ideas in the comments below or tweet them to @newlywedsurvive and I will share with my followers.
Caroline Jones is a writer and mother of two. She knows the difficulty of shopping and cooking on a budget. Caroline recently wrote about the best ways to make quick and easy dinners.