On a Budget
Keep Your Grocery Budget Under Control
I have four kids. Once upon a time, I had fewer kids. (Amazing, no?) There were less mouths to feed, but my husband was also a graduate student, and my two kids were teeny tiny. Then there were three kids and a husband who still rode his bike down the street to campus.
I paid our bills working from home, and as you can imagine, I learned a few tips and tricks on keeping the food budget under control. It was back when life was easy. The economy was booming. Food prices were low. We lived pretty comfortably, all things considered.
Fast forward to today and food prices are going up and up. While our income went up, our family grew to six, and along with the larger family, we added an urban-sized mortgage. For those of you that don't know, an urban-sized mortgage means a lot of mortgage payment for not a lot of house in a fantastic location.
In today's economy with our family situation, we keep our food budget under control by getting the most bang for our buck using these methods:
(1) Use plenty of pantry staples. Keeping the basics on hand means we're not constantly shopping for six spices in one recipe or grabbing single-meal packages of rice. We only buy them when we need them, and we buy in bulk, so they're usually cheaper.
(2) Incorporate a meatless meal. Meat is expensive, and if you're like us, you're looking for grass-fed, humanely raised meat that isn't full of fillers or hormones, which can make the price rise even further. Organic beans and grains that are also full of protein, on the other hand, can be found at much more reasonable prices. Enjoy a quinoa salad or a bean salad every now and then to keep your protein costs down.
(3) Use similar ingredients throughout the week. Save by incorporating the same sorts of produce and meat products into several meals in one week. This means you can purchase the larger package, which often costs less, or at the farmers market get a deal when you purchase two or three items rather than just the one for the one dish you're planning. Take advantage of bulk purchasing works in nearly every situation, whether you're buying at a grocer, a co-op or a farmers market.
(4) Make more food than you'll eat for dinner. Instead of purchasing items for lunch and dinner, we make sure we have leftovers that can be warmed up and served for lunches. This also avoids spending money on prepackaged items and processed foods that you'd look for to accompany, say, a lonely lunchtime sandwich or cheese and crackers. When you have a thermal container full of chicken and vegetable fried rice, you're less likely to fill up on potato chips.