With a well-stocked kitchen, you can quickly put a delicious meal together.
You won’t even have to buy too many new ingredients.
As food costs go up, it can be hard to stay on budget.
Here are some handy tips to reclaim your cash and help you spend less at the grocery store.
Grocery Tips: Empower Your Wallet to Spend Less Using Staples
1. Base your recipes around staples that you use.
There’s nothing like trying a new dish only to figure out that you have to go to three different stores to locate all of the items needed for the recipe. You shouldn’t have to partake in a scavenger hunt just to put a decent meal on the table.
If it calls for some exotic flavors that you don’t normally use, these “staples” can quickly add up to waste if you know the chances of you ever using them for another recipe is slim to none. Find recipes that use basic, every day ingredients. Common ingredients can make extraordinary meals.
2. Have multiple recipes on hand for these staples.
Create a Pinterest board just for those items you like the most and use often. I have a chicken recipes board just so I can readily find recipes for my favorite white meat staple that I’ve already test-driven or have been meaning to try. Think about what you use on a regular basis and start finding go-to recipes to turn to use up what you have at home.
3. Work backwards.
Many people pick their recipes first and then shop. Sometimes I do the opposite. If there is a deal on something I wasn’t anticipating, I will stock up on that and use my staples to make something tasty out of it. Have staples on hand so if you see a great deal on protein, you can figure out what recipe to use later.
A well-stocked spice cabinet can go along way. Tarragon, rosemary, thyme, chili powder, and even good ‘ol salt and pepper can make a big difference and put a different twist on chicken. Bay leaves can be added to soups, stews, and marinades. Cinnamon can be used for stews, chilies, and curries and of course. So think about what flavors you like best and are the most versatile to season your meals and keep those handy.
4. Stock your pantry slowly.
If a well-stocked pantry is too expensive to do all at once, consider buying one or two staples that will last you awhile during a regular shopping trip. Pick ones that you can use for many dishes to begin with like olive oil, vinegar, etc. Maybe one week you stock up on pricey olive oil and then get other items like spices the following week. This will keep your grocery bill from skyrocketing and throwing you off budget.
5. Get the low price lowdown.
Check with the butcher or your grocer’s meat manager to get some insider tips about sales. They can clue you in on the best times to get meats near their expiration dates. Once you figure out the cycle of the markdown, stock up on what you need. When you get home, toss them in the freezer.
6. Get the scoop on how to organize a freezer.
It’s great to get a sale and stock up on items but you also need a system to make sure you use what you buy. Make a list or spreadsheet of what you have in the freezer. Categorize and label items so you can easily find them when you need them. Make sure the items are easily accessible so you reduce spoilage.
You may not need to buy protein every week if you already have items on hand. Devise a way to store items so they are easy to find and you can make meals before anything expires.
7. Be a couch potato.
The Dr. Oz Show educates people about healthy food options. He provides a range of food choices for hungry viewers looking to eat better. His ideas can work for different budgets. You can also watch shows like Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network by the host, Melissa d’Arabian. Browse past episodes like Low-Lira Lasagna, Payless Picnics, or Bird on a Budget to get ideas. You can also see what’s coming up soon and make yourself a TV appointment. Sandra Lee’s Money-Saving Meals is also a fantastic show packed with the inside scoop on how to make delicious food at a bargain price. So you can do bon appetite on the cheap.
8. Be goal-oriented.
Shop in your cabinets. Use your staples you have at home and see how long you can go without having to spend money at the supermarket. Maybe you just spend money each week on protein that is on sale only. This could drastically reduce your food bill. Make it a goal. Set the savings aside to get out of debt, secure your retirement, or plan a vacation.
9. Take stock in your inventory.
Get rid of whatever is old and just taking up space. Keep track of what you do have that is still edible. Check your cupboards, fridge, and freezer to see what you have to work with. Plan your meals on the meal board app or use simple pen and paper to take inventory. You may even want to leave room for an expiration date so you can use the items before they pass their prime. Then plan away.
10. Visualize your meals.
Keep all of the stock on the counter after you poke through to see what you have. After going over every ingredient with a fine tooth comb. Group items needed for recipes together. If you have room, put them in baskets for each day of the week in your cabinets. This way you can just grab the basket for that day of the week.
If you are short on space, mix and match items that you will need and take pictures of them on your phone. I am a visual person. If something is out of sight, then it’s out of mind. It may seem silly but if it works for you, then do it. It’s also easy to have another family member pull out all of the needed ingredients to help out with making the meals. This can even serve as a chore that your kids can handle.
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