Tips to spend less on groceries and make your food go farther
Budgets

How to spend less – food edition

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I know I’m not the only one right now, stressing about money and trying to cut costs around the house. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation is. We can all use tips on how to spend less money in our daily lives. Today we are working through some new tips to spend less money at the grocery store.

I’m pretty sure that we can all use some solid tips on how to save money on food. Even though I try to be intentional with this, I still spend more than I need to on food. 

Right now, like many of you, I am super limited with how often I shop, and even with what is available to buy. So, I’m turning to these cost-saving tips to carve out room in my budget. 

Make the most out of what you have

I’m pretty sure you all have food in your pantry that you don’t want to eat. I know we have random packages of things that Dan bought on a whim or without a plan, that haven’t gotten eaten. If I am talking tips to spend less money on groceries, making the most of what you have is absolutely step one. 

My freezer and pantry are stocked. And yet, because I am a creature of habit, I went to the grocery store on Saturday to prep for the week ahead. Yes, I still want to get fresh fruit and vegetables, but it’s time to base my meal plan on what I have instead of what I want. 

Get creative

While I am talking about making the most of what you have, it’s important to embrace getting creative. You might not have everything you need to create the meal you are imagining. But instead of making an extra trip to the grocery store, save money by getting creative with what you do have. 

Google new substitutions, use different vegetables, try something new. Sometimes I look at the ingredients that I do have, pop them into google, and see what comes up. My favourite soup recipe came into my life when my friend Lori did that exact thing. She had cauliflower, she had carrots, and google provided her with an awesome recipe that she shared with our lunch club.

Wanna try this amazing soup? Find a close version of the recipe here!

Be flexible

Creativity goes hand in hand with flexibility right now. If you go to the grocery store and they are out of ground beef, are you going to try three other grocery stores, or are you going to buy the ground beef-pork mix that they have? Normally, I don’t like the beef-pork blend, but if it means I don’t have to go to a different store? I can make that work! It adds great flavour to the meatloaf, anyways! 

You might not be able to get the brands of things, or exact ingredients you are looking for. But you can make something else work. See creativity, above! 

Avoid waste

Another tip for spending less money on groceries is to avoid waste. Put your vegetable trimmings into a soup pot to make broth, freeze your leftovers, encourage your family to take less food and have seconds if they are still hungry. 

The less food you throw away, the more food you have to eat – and the more money you save! 

Use your leftovers

We are bad for wasting leftovers. There never seems to be enough for a second meal worth. While we try to freeze them for Daniel to take for lunches, sometimes they go into the fridge with the best of intentions and emerge several weeks later unidentifiable. 

I know I’m not alone in this grossness. 

However, when times are tough, and money is tight, those leftovers can go a long way to reducing your food budget. Make sure you eat them or freeze them, so they don’t go to waste. 

Or – you can repurpose them. Daniel has fond memories of Chinese food leftovers when he was a kid. His mom would put the rice on the bottom and then put all the rest of the leftovers on top in one big casserole dish and bake it in the oven the next day. 

You could cut up the leftover chicken to have with salad for lunch tomorrow or create a casserole with your pasta and sauce. 

Meal plan

Hands down, creating a meal plan is a lifesaver both with my grocery budget and in limiting the number of trips I make to the grocery store. 

And, the best part is, it’s easy to do. Once a week, we look at the week ahead and decide what meals we are going to eat for dinner each night. 

If you are using the tips from above, you’ll base your meal plan on what you already have in your freezer/fridge/pantry rather than what you are craving. That’s my BIG goal this week.

Then I create my grocery list based on the plan, adding in foods we may need for breakfasts and lunches as well. 

When I’m at the grocery store, I stick to the list. It speeds up my process, and I know I’m getting the things I need so that there is no need to go back to the store later in the week. Simply not an option these days! 

Simplify

I know with this time at home you are being gifted, it is fun to get curious in the kitchen and dive into some recipes that you’ve been dying to try. And I am here for that – we love to experiment and test out some of the things we see on baking shows, too! 

But!

You do not need to amp up the cooking game every day of the week. And, more than that, you cannot take on the pressure of suddenly working from home, keeping up with kids’ school work (ish), being mindful of your mental health, and becoming Martha Stewart all in one week. 

When you are meal planning, add in some simple meals. Sandwiches. Salads. Breakfast for dinner. (My fave!) Simpler meals require fewer ingredients and, therefore, cost less money! 

Eat less meat

The final tip for spending less money today is to eat less meat. If you are already a vegetarian, then this isn’t helpful for you, but if you are eating meat multiple times a day, it might be time to adjust. 

“But, I need the protein!!”

Yes. I see you. But there are wonderful plant-based protein options that cost a fraction of the meat alternatives, and you are doing beautiful things for the environment too! Win-win! 

Wondering where to start? Here are a couple of tried and tested recipes that are delicious! 

Easy Burrito Bowls from Damn Delicious

Red Lentil & Spinach Masala from Side Chef

Black Bean Chili from Forks Over Knives

Wrap Up

Ok, friends, that’s it for round one of the tips to spend less. This is the food edition. Next up, we’ll tackle other ways to save money around the house. 

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For more money-saving ideas, check out Spend Less to Save More. (Some of these tips may be more helpful post-isolation when using the library and attending free events is part of our norm again!)

Tips to spend less on food and reduce your grocery budget.
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