Even though I still have my job, we started our new household budget – which involved cutting our food budget by half. You think that hurts…oh yeah! But I am determined that we are not going to give up the foods we love. Here are some ideas to help stretch every dollar of our new budget.
In all honesty, we don’t live – and never have lived – very fancy and that includes our meals! My husband and I both grew up in households that didn’t have a lot. And we were raised on hearty, homemade meals. In our old budget though, we had built in extra money into our food budget so we could eat out once a week. With the new budget we don’t have that little luxury, it’s gonna take a little getting used to – but that’s ok!
I knew with the change in our budget we were going to have a few hurdles, inflation was going to be the hardest one to deal with – with prices going up, our money just doesn’t buy as much as before.
Here are a few things that we use to help us make the most out of our new food budget…
- Plan menus ahead of time – i.e. cook at home!
- Buy staple foods in bulk for extra savings
- Use coupons – once again, only buy what you will use, also just because an item is on sale or you can use a coupon, doesn’t mean it’s the best price.
- Ask if your store price matches
- Shop sales – around here we have a grocery store that has specific sales at certain times of the year. Back to school usually means that a cereal sale is soon, same with a baking sale around the first part of November. I try to keep a little out of each budget, then when the really good sales start I have a little extra to buy what we use at an amazing price. But, also weekly sales usually have something featured at a good price that becomes part of the menu.
- Know what the price of what you buy usually is – this will help in a couple different ways – one, it will allow you to know when you are getting a good deal, and second, it will help when making out the budget to know about what you will be spending before hand.
- Use staples – beans, rice, pasta, potatoes
- Go meatless, or at least cut back – Make the meat more of a side dish instead of the main portion of the meal.
- Use leftovers – another good reason to make a menu, you can make sure everything is used and very little gets thrown away
- Only buy what is on your grocery list
- Try generic/store brands – It doesn’t work on every item, but most store brand items are cheaper than the name brands.
- Make your own mixes – spice mixes, pancake mixes, soup mixes. (They will also be healthier!)
- Don’t shop when your hungry
- Don’t pay for processing – buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself is usually cheaper and healthier than bagged.
- Shop what’s in season
- Grow your own – even a small windowsill can grow herbs, lettuce, spinach, kale, and chard.
- Freeze/dry food for longer use – Were you able to score a really great deal? But, it’s gonna go bad if they aren’t used soon? Freeze them! You can freeze almost anything. Check out books or online for ways to freeze products. We also have a dehydrator and I end up drying a lot, and I mean a lot of food. last year I was able to get a great deal on potatoes, but as much as we love potatoes – there is no way we could eat them all before they go bad. So, I sliced, blanched and dried them. I also dried corn, zucchini, baby round squash, peas, green beans, carrots, and tomatoes from our garden so we can enjoy them during the cold months and help out the budget.
What are some ways that you use to help stretch your food budget?