Plan Ahead–it’s so, so easy to impulse-buy a bunch of things you don’t need! If you walk into the store without a plan, you are definitely going to walk out spending far more than you should. Buying that frozen pizza suddenly becomes a necessity, which would totally go well with donuts, and you can’t very well have donuts without milk, and…you get the idea. Sitting down to plan out a week, or even a month in advance can really help curb your “grab-and-go” impulses! We really like this layout for meal planning, which we found on www.thekitchn.com :
Beautiful, isn’t it?
We love the color-coded layout, broken down by day and food group! While we think this is sooooo cute, you definitely don’t have to go this far. A simple sheet of grid paper and a pen will do the job! Feel free to plan by week, or even by month, depending on what works for you!
Don’t Pay for Something You Can Do Yourself–fact is, stores will charge extra for things that come pre-sliced, pre-peeled, pre-shredded, pre-divided and pre-packaged. Lunchables are usually just glorified cheese and crackers, but you’ll end up paying two and three times more to buy a single packaged Lunchable than if you assembled it yourself! Let’s take cubed or shredded cheese–the bagged stuff can run you twice as much as buying a brick of cheese and shredding or cubing it yourself. We suggest buying the staples and raw ingredients and learning to assemble those “convenience” foods yourself!
Fine Print–if you’re an avid couponer (or if you spotted a great deal at the store), take a few extra seconds to read the tiny print. We know that the big, red-and-yellow $1.99 price tag is eye-catching, it can take a little research to get the best deal. You may not have to buy three items to get the “three for five” deal–often the same discount will apply to just one item. It also pays to take a close look at unit prices–the price per ounce will help you decide between brands, but also dodge a common manufacturing trick. Packaging can be deceiving, remember, and it’s wholly possible that what looks like a good deal may not be!
Waste Less–this is huge. Forty percent of all food purchased in the United States is never eaten, and on top of that, folks don’t realize how much of their “trash” is actually useful. You really can utilize your food offcuts to new things! Bones and scraps can be boiled to become stocks…fruit and veggie pieces can be made into pestos, dressings, teas and flavored oils. The real secret to getting the most bang for your buck comes with a new trend called regrowing. From just a piece of different fruits and vegetables, you can grow a whole new plant! Your one-time investment in a high-quality organically-grown produce item can be used for a lifetime supply of regrown goodness! Here are just some of the things that can be regrown from your offcuts!
-Lettuce -Garlic -Peppers
-Bok Choy -Potatoes -Tomatoes
-Cabbage -Sweet Potatoes -Herbs
-Celery -Ginger -Pumpkins
-Avocados -Carrot -Apples
An image of celery being sprouted from offcuts, courtesy of www.davidwolfe.com
There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest for how to grow your scraps into brand new food! What’s even better, whatever you don’t regrow can go on the compost pile to make good soil for what you do choose!
Freezer Force–your number-one money saving tool is in your kitchen right now! Your freezer can do some amazing things–you can preserve your produce and meats for long periods of time…and you should! Your freezer can save you almost $3,000 every year in grocery costs by allowing you to buy in bulk, buy seasonal, and just buy better! Take advantage of great sales when you see them and you can have food on hand year round. When freezing, it’s important to freeze as quickly as possible, to maintain the integrity of the cell membranes (especially in things like berries and softer fruits and vegetables). To do this, we took an idea from food guru Alton Brown–spread your foods out on a single layer on a metal baking sheet and freeze away! Then bag, tag and store for six months to a year. This’ll help you take advantage of sales, seasonal specials and much more! Take a look at this wonderful seasonal produce chart to see when you should be stocking up!
Courtesy of www.beacheslife.ca
Befriend the Butcher–when hunting for your protein of choice, it’s a good idea to talk with your friendly neighborhood butcher! They can help you snag the best deals–all you have to do is ask! Questions like when the meat gets marked down will help you save some serious coin! Also, remember that purchasing certain types of meats can help. Instead of buying skinless, boneless chicken breast (which can cost up to two dollars more per pound) consider opting for whole chickens, bone-in options, even legs and wings! The less processed and broken down they are, the cheaper they’re going to be!
Loyalty Cards–have you got a favorite grocery store? Does that store offer loyalty cards to help you get the best deal? Sign up. Now! They’re almost always free to sign up for, and they can save you big money. Kroger, Acme and Giant Eagle all have wonderful options that also offer fuel discounts if you fill up at their respective gas stations! We’ve got a Kroger card, which saves us twenty percent easily on our purchases, and often more! For example–for a 12 pound thanksgiving turkey, we spent less than ten dollars with our Kroger card! And yes, it was delicious.