How do you save money on the grocery budget and still eat as healthy as possible, especially in this day of rising grocery costs. One thing I learned from having 8 children and living on one income is that you can’t always eat “perfectly healthy”. It is often not a matter of seeing where else the budget can flex, but that there simply is not the funds available for a perfect, healthy, organic, etc. diet. My conclusion was always this: do the best I can with what God has given me.
Here are a few of my own ideas I’ve used over the years to help with grocery costs. If you have any other ones, please share in the comment section!! It may be a great help to other readers who are trying to keep their grocery budget under control!
1. Add more beans to your diet. Beans don’t have to be the main attraction, especially if your family is not that found of them. 2 ½ cups of cooked beans is about the same as 1# hamburger. You can mash the beans up and add them to meatloaf, spaghetti, casseroles, etc… They can be added to soups, or they can be the main attraction. The trick is learning how to cook a delicious pot of beans and knowing what to do with those beans!
2. Make food from scratch and avoid as many convenience foods as possible. Cook with more basic foods. From a fairly small list of basic foods in the pantry, freezer and fridge you can come up with an amazing amount of meal variety.
3. Purchase little to no junk food. Snacks can be healthier homemade options such as popcorn, cookies, muffins, granola bars, trail mix, etc
4. Drink water. Incredible amounts of money are spent in this country on soda pop and various flavored waters. The sugar and artificial sweeteners used in these are bad enough but the money spent on them is bad too. Water is good for you, necessary for life, keeps your body hydrated and functioning properly. On occasion I’ve made my family fun drinks for special times. I like to use carbonated soda water in place of water when making apple, orange or grape juice. Another favorite is Apple Peach Tea made from concentrated apple juice and peach tea bags. As I said these types of drinks are reserved for special occasions.
5. Serve more oatmeal for breakfast and skip the boxed cereal. When you add up the price per pound you are paying for boxed cereal you could be eating steak instead! ;) Oatmeal can be made into other things besides hot cereal: baked oatmeal, oatmeal pancakes, granola, and more
6. Use less cheese in a meal. Cheese is expensive. I try and use less of it when cooking. If a recipe says to add 2 cups I add 1 cup, if it says to top with cheese I either lightly sprinkle the cheese on top or skip it altogether.
7. Make your own soup stock. You can make beef or chicken or even veggie stock. I like veggie stock because is a great way to utilize vegetable scraps and limp looking veggies in your fridge that might otherwise get tossed.
8. Be as diligent as possible to avoid food waste. It’s not just about starving children in the world; it’s about your food dollars. When we throw away food it is like taking our hard earned money and tossing it right in the garbage and no one would do that. I know it can be difficult. I’m way to familiar with those unknown science projects growing and hiding in the back of fridge. Here is what I’ve learned; you have to be super diligent to be as mindful as possible about the status of food in your fridge. If you make to much of something, learn to make less next time. Freeze extra portions if needed and also calculate amounts of food to feed your family. An example is this: I use to always have excess pasta left when cooking because I would just guess how much we needed. Often it would go to waste. Then I started weighing my pasta and figured out how much I needed to feed my family a meal. If there was any leftover it was something that could be easily consumed the next day. The last part would be to be a good steward of what is in your fridge and learn to adjust your meal plans when you see something needs to be eaten up before it goes bad. Learn to be creative in your cooking. Google is your best friend when searching for recipes. Sometimes if I’m stuck for ideas I put the ingredient into a search and see what kinds of recipes pop up.
9. I don’t use coupons. I rarely see coupons for basic staple type foods. They are most always for prepackaged processed foods. I’ve never seen coupons for wheat, brown rice, oats, fresh meats, fruits, vegetables, etc.. Know the grocery stores in your areas and shop where the best prices can be found on basic items.
10. Pack your lunches. Whether it’s for work, school, or a day away from home with the kids, avoid fast food. Making your own lunches is not only healthier but much less expensive. I’ve been sending my hubby off to work with homemade home packed lunches for the last 30 years and it has saved us an incredible amount of money and he has eaten healthier as well.
11. Plan a menu (checking weekly store flyers help to make menus based on what is on sale). Menu planning is the best way to keep from overspending. You plan your meals (for a week, 2 weeks a month, whatever you choose), create a grocery list from the plan and stick with the list when shopping.
12. Make a master list of foods you buy regularly. Every shopping trip you can print the list and circle what you need. Then add any extras needed.
13. If you know how to can up food, do it! I can meat, soups, stews, chili, etc for quick, healthy and easy meals. It’s a great way to take advantage of food when it is on sale or in season. Much better for you than buying the processed store bought versions!
It takes a lot of work and time to organize, plan, cook and stay on top of the grocery budget. But the end results are worth the effort. You can save money and your family will eat healthier as well!