Simple Ways To Save On Groceries (Without Coupons) Part 3

When you get home:

Prep, if possible. Most of us have had to scrape something that once resembled lettuce from the bottom of our crisper drawer. One way to combat that is to prep things as soon as you get home. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone (and it’s a habit I’m trying to acquire) but anything you do to make the nightly blank stares from your hungry family members will help tremendously. For example, wash and chop up fruit to make a quick fruit salad. Chop up herbs, onions and other veggies and keep them in separate containers or plastic bags to make dinner a bit easier on busy nights. One more idea: if you buy meat in bulk, separate it out into portions and then freeze it.

Make your own whenever possible. Cooking from scratch is usually cheaper and healthier. For example, I don’t like to buy canned soups because they are loaded with salt. So instead, I found a recipe for a basic white sauce that has several different variations I can make according to what I need. A word of caution, though – from scratch is not always cheaper. For instance, a basic brownie mix is about $1. The special dark cocoa that I like is a little more than $3. If you’re making brownies, the boxed mix is the better deal, but from scratch to me tastes better. Again, do what works for you.

Keep portions in check. Let’s be honest, most of us have a tendency to overload our plates with food (the extra 15 pounds I’m carrying right now will attest to that)! It’s part of our more-value-for-your-money, bigger-is-better American culture. It stands to reason, however, that if you use up what you have, plan your meals around the sale items and cook from scratch whenever possible, but then eat a double portion in one sitting, you’ve just eaten up most of your savings.

Instead, serve yourself a reasonable portion and quickly put the rest of the food into containers for lunches the next day or another meal later in the week. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you. And 9 times out of 10, you’ll be satisfied with less.

Waste nothing. Try to make only the amount of food your family can eat in a week, (unless you are purposefully stocking up for the freezer). If we make a meal, but then let it sit in the back of the fridge until it officially become a science experiment, then that is just like throwing your hard-earned money in the trash.

Please note that I’m not in any way suggesting that anyone eat rancid food just so it doesn’t get thrown away. I’m merely suggesting that we become more conscious of what we need and try to make only that amount:)

Learn to Love (or at least like) leftovers. Eat leftovers for lunches the next day or save them for later in the week. Try to turn them into something else, if possible. For example, if you roast a chicken one night, try to get another two meals out of the leftover meat. Some ideas: pecan chicken salad (chicken, crumbled blue cheese, chopped pecans and dried cherries over a bed of romaine), chicken and rice or bean burritos, chicken pesto pasta or chicken salad sandwiches.

Assemble a couple of casseroles ahead of time. If you are making a dish like baked spaghetti or lasagna, consider doubling the recipe and freezing half of it in an aluminum container purchased at the dollar store. That way on a busy day, all you have to do is put it in the oven. Love that.

Keep the ingredients for a couple of quick meals on hand for busy nights. Dinners don’t always have to be fancy. When we have a scheduled activity at night, I fix quesadillas and tortilla chips or sub sandwiches with cottage cheese and grapes. A little extra time in planning saves a quick trip through the drive through. And chances are, you’ll all feel a lot better afterward!

One more idea:  Keep it simple.

Dinner doesn’t have to consist of an elaborate spread of meat, potatoes, a vegetable and dessert every night. Sometimes the best (and most memorable) meals are the simplest. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, anyone?

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Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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