Now more than ever, it’s important to budget. Frugal living is not only smart, but it’s trendy—especially with the recent high inflation that’s affected the prices of many of life’s necessities. With that in mind, even though food is a must-have item, you should still budget to make sure your family has everything they need.
With all that in mind, start looking for ways to stretch your budget a bit further than you have before. Maybe you have an extra large family, maybe you’re saving for your dream home, or maybe you just want to invest some spare cash.
Whatever the case, here are 8 (easy) ways to stretch your food budget and knock some dollars off that bottom-line bill.
#8: Always Make a List
Never ever go to the grocery store without a list. The list keeps you on task. The list keeps you under budget. The list does not lie—it will create a goal that you can stick to and see in front of you. It’s important to calculate your maximum costs beforehand as well; that should be a part of the listing process.
Pro Tip: Don’t go to the grocery store on an empty stomach, either. You’re more likely to overbuy and snag unneeded items when you do.
#7: Coupon, Coupon, Coupon
For a while, couponing was really trendy. We’re not sure when it went to the wayside, but the fact of the matter is, couponing still works. Grab the Sunday newspapers and clip out what you need. Check online and print off manufacturer coupons as well.
Some of our favorite spaces to download and clip are Coupons.com and P&G Good Everyday. This can also help with your grocery listing and help inspire your meal plans for the week.
#6: Stock Up on Staples
When there’s a local deal or coupon, stock up on your staples—the items you’ll use over and over again. Whether they belong in the pantry or the freezer, this can help with your longer-term budgeting and no-spending days as well.
Stocking up early on items such as rice, pasta, and even peanut butter can make your weekly grocery lists less busy, which results in less of a budget needed on those trips to the market.
#5: Plan for & Utilize Leftovers
When you make meals at home, make enough to have leftovers. This creates 2-in-1 meals for you and the family. Dinner tonight becomes lunch tomorrow. You don’t have to buy extra food for lunchtime, and you don’t have to whip out cash for the drive-through, either. Use forethought in your meal planning to know when you can use the leftovers from each dish.
#4: Meal Plan (with Similar Ingredients)
This tip goes hand-in-hand with grocery list making. Plan your meals ahead of time so you can easily make your list of what you need at the store. Check your pantry to ensure that you don’t already have the ingredients needed. Then pick recipes that need similar ingredients. You will be buying less at the store weekly but still eating a variety of dishes.
#3: Don’t Over-Buy Produce
So many families buy produce and half of it gets chucked into the trash can because they didn’t use it in time. Buy your produce when you need it, even if it means running into the grocery store on a non-grocery shopping day. This will ensure that you use what you buy and nothing goes bad before it’s time to follow each of your recipes.
#2: Befriend Breakfast
There are so many different ways to whip up a solid breakfast meal—and you don’t have to always have it in the morning. Breakfast foods are cheaper than others, and you can easily turn your favorite “Eggs in a Basket” or “Stuffed Biscuit” recipes into lunch or dinner options as well. Besides, pancakes are so filling and so inexpensive to whip up!
#1: Search for More Tips
There are tons of ways to stretch what you already have, improve the lifespan of specific foods, and keep your ingredients around longer. For example, did you know that if you store fresh fruit in mason jars and put them in the fridge, it will triple their lifespan? And if you store asparagus in a glass of water, it’ll stay fresh for two weeks. There are so many tricks to use—just do your research! To keep learning, check out these 10 tips for storing food to prevent waste!