Unless you’re living solely off of food that you grow yourself, you can probably stand to save a few dollars by learning how to be more frugal when it comes to cooking and buying food.
As our budget has gotten tighter, we’ve found that we hardly ever eat at restaurants and are buying more items that are on sale. While these two methods are the most obvious ways to save money on groceries, there are lots of small details and techniques that can increase your food savings even more.
Here are some basic tips for planning your meals on a budget:
- Count on and take full advantage of leftovers. Cooking too much today means you’ll already have lunch or dinner for tomorrow.
- Make and pack (to go) lunches a day ahead and make sure you have enough lunch food for the week or you’ll be tempted to go out for lunch.
- When you buy fresh and/or perishable ingredients, put meals that call for these items in the front of the line so you aren’t throwing away food.
- Spend Saturday or Sunday cooking a large meal like a whole chicken, roast beef, stews or lasagne that can provide leftovers or components of other meals for the rest of the week.
- Plan out meals and look for new recipes to try BEFORE you go shopping.
- Make good use of and rotate inexpensive sides like pasta, rice, and salads – consider making certain sides (like salads) in larger quantities in advance…
You can finish reading this article here at Frugal guide to cooking at home
These are some great ideas to get you started with a new frame of mind that can help you find some fresh ideas on how to improve your finances and likely your eating quality too.
We also ran across an article from FrugalVillage that discusses how several household items can easily be frozen so that they don’t go to waste. Here is some of what they had to say:
Milk. If you come across a sale, buy a few gallons to freeze. To avoid breaking the container, remove some milk (1/2 cup is enough) and to create some space inside before freezing. Thaw it in the fridge and simply shake before using.
Eggs. While eggs have a long shelf life, you might have a situation where you have far too many. You can freeze them whole, or freeze just the yolks or the whites. One reader, Dee from New York, shares: “I was sick of throwing out eggs all the time and decided to freeze some. I added one teaspoon salt to five whole eggs and mixed them together with a whisk. I did a total of 20 large eggs. When I filled my ice-cube trays, I came up with 40 cubes exactly, so two cubes equals one large egg. They wouldn’t pop out, so next time I’ll spray the ice-cube tray with cooking spray first.” For more information on freezing eggs, visit nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/eggs.html
Bananas. You can mash and freeze them or freeze them with the peels on. Once thawed, simply cut off an end and squeeze the banana out of the peel. The peel will look terrible, but the banana inside is fine. Another reader, Joseph from North Carolina, shares: “Make mock banana ice cream. Peel a frozen banana, chop it into chunks and blend it with a splash of milk in your food processor until creamy. Next time I am adding chocolate syrup and nuts to make a sundae. I may never bother with the fat and calories of regular ice cream again.”
Celery. You can put limp celery in ice cold water to freshen it up, but did you know you can freeze it, too? Chop the celery, flash freeze it on a baking sheet and transfer to freezer bags. Add it to soups, stews, sauces and casseroles.
Herbs. Freeze herbs such as parsley, basil, mint and tarragon. Chop the herbs and place in an ice cube tray. Top each ice cube tray cubbie with water. Use roughly 1/4 cup water for every cup of parsley. You can process it in a food processor, too. Once frozen, transfer the herb cubes to storage bags. …
Source: Freeze foods to avoid waste.
Planning your meals and freezing food are great ways to lower your overall food budget. If you’re looking for some other ideas, here are some of our suggestions:
- Try shopping at low cost grocery stores like Aldis. They are mostly knockoff brands but have decent produce at half the cost of most grocery stores.
- Buy in bulk from Sams or Costco, but only buy things that don’t go bad before you use them. And make sure you compare prices to store brands from places like Walmart and Target to make sure you’re getting the best price.
- Get a deep freeze that doesn’t use the defrost cycle. Items can be frozen for years rather than just months.
- Save money with a garden and then can or freeze your excess vegetables to use throughout the winter.
- If you can find a low cost farmer’s market, you can often buy cheap organic fruit and vegetables.
- Visit the pick your own orchards to get bulk prices on fruit.
- You don’t need to give up on going out to eat, but if you cut back on ordering soft drinks and desserts, you can save as much as 30%.
- Use coupons but don’t let the coupons persuade you to buy things you wouldn’t otherwise.
- Go grocery shopping when you have a plan and a thorough list. If you aren’t prepared, you’re likely to just start throwing stuff in your cart that you don’t need.
- Grocery shop when you are not hungry and don’t bring your kids to the grocery store.
- Avoid getting snacks when you stop at a rest area or gas station. Instead, keep a stash of healthy snacks in your trunk for such purposes.
- Always carry a water bottle with you when you leave in the car. It will keep you from buying snacks and soda on the road.
Hopefully we’ve listed at least one new idea for you to save some money on your food or groceries. Please feel free to share some of your ideas with us below.