How to S-T-R-E-T-C-H Your Grocery Budget and Keep it Delicious
As we talk about organizing well to be effective in life, homeschooling, and more, one thing we forget about is our budget! This is especially true when it comes to that grocery bill. But, when we’re conscientious about organizing the grocery budget well, we often find that a lot of our other organizational needs fall into place well, too!
How to Make Your Grocery Budget Work for You
We are foodies! With five kids, I’ve had to learn a few things about stretching the dollar without losing on taste. With the kids growing like weeds, it can feel like the grocery budget is getting out of control.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years to help reign in the spending, keep the food delicious, and spend more time with my kids.
Plan & Compare for Grocery Budget Savings
In our neck of the woods, we get the weekly sales specials in the mail. By taking thirty minutes a week to plan our meals, we save time, money and gas!
I can jot down the deals of the week and price compare at Walmart. I begin planning meals based on where I can save the most money, the main dish or meat. From there, add a starch: potato, pasta, or rice. Then it’s veggies and bread.
Stretch the Grocery Budget by Planning for Leftovers
There are a few dishes in our home that are created through leftovers on different evenings. If I have made a roast and then roasted chicken on two consecutive nights, I combine the leftovers and make a stew on the third night. This saves me one night’s meat purchase and ensures that we do not waste.
Saving money is important, but making a plan that incorporates savings, delicious meals, and spending time with the kids will pay off now and in the future!
Keep Hunger at Bay to Avoid Emergency Expense
Keep the kids’ hunger at bay! Make sure to carry fruit or a hearty snack (think anything with peanut butter!) in the car so that you don’t arrive home with kids ready to ransack the fridge. Keeping them held over with a snack will allow you the sanity time to prep a quick meal.
Stretch the Grocery Budget by Planting a Garden
It’s springtime, and planting an herb garden and a vegetable garden will give me about four months of tremendous savings at the grocery store. From tomatoes, dill, rosemary, peppers, squashes, green beans and more, planting a garden is not only money saving, but it gives you an activity to share with your kids. (Remember, you can even make pickles with the kids and call it science!)
Scour Your Recipe Books (or the Internet)
Necessity is the mother of invention, and when you need to save money, it’s time to find recipes that are simple, delicious and cheap. Based on what’s on sale in your area, begin a search online or in the index of your recipe books. You’ll be amazed at the creativity you can bring to the dinner table for just pennies.
Avoid Unexpected Expense by Always Having a Backup Plan
I often have our meals planned out, but if the day does not go as planned and we are arriving home late, I always have a meal that takes about fifteen minutes to prepare in the freezer or pantry. For our family, it’s Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili in a can. We pour this over pasta and add cheese and onions. A hearty meal in fifteen minutes, and almost all the ingredients can be stored in the pantry or freezer, allowing me to always have them on hand.
Stretch the Grocery Budget by Investing in a Bread Machine
I get my everyday sandwich bread from the store, but when it comes to specialty dinner bread, it’s outrageous what the super market charges for simple flour and water. Enter the bread machine. I know my time is at a premium, so I appreciate the ability to throw five or six ingredients into the machine, set it to dough, and time it to finish about an hour from dinner.
Creating fancy dinner rolls is not only cost effective, but I have fond memories of teaching my girls how to braid bread, egg wash it, and sprinkle sesame seeds. Yum!
Stretch the Grocery Budget by Dividing & Conquering
With our children eating more and more, the expense of meat is quickly rising. In order to make our dollar stretch, I buy in bulk and then divide and conquer! For example, I might buy two 4-lb roasts.
At home, I take these roasts and divide each into two portions, then cut the sections into stew meat. Bagging three of the four into freezer bags, I use the remaining stew meat to create a dish like beef vegetable soup, beef pot pie, or Kentucky burgoo.
Any dish that can have less meat and more vegetables or starch will stretch the dollar and increase the proportions.
Some personalities find menu planning and other planning tasks more enjoyable than others. Take our Planner Personality Quiz to discover your planner personality type and learn planning tips that fit your personality.
Thanks, girl! I wish I could garden better. I actually have one of those front yards that isn’t a yard: it’s a garden (courtesy of my landlady). I basically try not to kill it, but that’s as grand as my dreams go. My thumb is kinda black. I planted cuckes and peppers but the neighborhood cats ate them the very next day. We love our perennials though: the rosemary and mint and swiss chard and rhubarb come back every year, thank goodness. I find I do better and save money when I don’t have a meal plan surprisingly. Then I can buy what’s on sale and plan at the store, instead of being tied down to my idea of meatloaf and being stuck buying over priced ground beef when pork roast has been marked down. Summer scares me: all the kids are home, snacking all day! Help!