(Amanda is a guest blogger from The Chunky Chef.)
I’m a planner by nature. Flying by the seat of my pants and being spontaneous just aren’t in my nature. So when it comes to what my family will eat for dinner, of course, I have a plan!
Food is expensive, fresh and healthy foods are even MORE expensive. However, there are ways to get the most out of your groceries… really make your hard earned money last.
I’m no expert, but I’d like to share 7 tips that I use each and every time I plan out our meals
1. Take Inventory:
Take inventory of what you have in the house. Generally, we have some meat in the freezer, as well as some frozen veggies and staples like dried pasta and beans in the pantry. So let’s say I look in the freezer and see that we have pork chops, chicken tenders, and ground beef. I will purposely plan meals that use those ingredients. That right there saves me quite a bit, as meat is expensive.Now you might be thinking, “Yeah, but you had to buy that meat for it to be in your freezer in the first place, right?”. True, I did. And it brings me to my second point.
2. Buy in Bulk
Here in the Midwest, a pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts (there are 3 breasts in a pack) runs about $7-8. The “value” size pack has about 8-9 chicken breasts in the pack, and costs about $12. So for just $4-5 more, you get almost triple the amount of chicken! We typically use about 3 breasts per meal, so that one pack will get us 3 meals. I call that a value!
I get home from the store, open and trim the chicken breasts, and package them in large zip top plastic bags, 3 per bag. Then I freeze them so they’re ready to go.The same goes for other meats… buy in bulk, then separate into portions at home and freeze. It’ll help keep your freezer stocked.
You can also buy things like potatoes, rice, pasta, etc in bulk.
3. Buy and Plan Based on What’s on Sale
Take advantage of those sales! Either look in your paper for the print ads, or look on the store’s website for the digital ad and start saving For example, if I saw this ad:
I would probably plan on making chicken fettucine alfredo with peas. It uses three items that are on sale that week! Here’s another example:I would choose to make a southwest chicken salad using the chicken breasts, salad, cheese and avocados that are on sale.
Now that’s not to say that every meal you plan has to be from the weekly sale ad, but if you pick a few that ARE on sale, your bill will be much lower.
4. Take Advantage of Seasonal Sales
A few weeks ago, a grocery store near me had pints of blueberries for $1. I bought four pints, spread them out on a baking sheet, popped it into the freezer to flash freeze them, then poured the frozen berries into zip top plastic bags and put them in the freezer. Now even in the dead of winter, I can have blueberries at hardly any cost to me.
5. Store Your Groceries Properly
You should also be storing your fruits and vegetables the proper way, so that they don’t spoil before you get to use them. Things like garlic and onions need to be in a dark, ventilated place on your counter, whereas, apples will last longer in your refrigerator. Here’s a great link on how to store things properly!
6. Use Coupons and Buy Generic
Obviously coupons are a great way to save some money at the grocery store, but also, buy some generic items. The store brand is most likely just as good as the name brand, but costs less! I’ve found there’s one exception, sour cream. For our tastes, we always buy name brand sour cream, just a personal preference
7. Don’t Let Your Food Spoil Before You Use It
My last tip is to not only plan out what meals to make for the week, but to plan out which meal to have on which day! That may seem a little over the top, planning wise, but think about it. Let’s say you’re going to have a meal that uses fresh basil, fresh lettuce, potatoes, scallions, and onions. Well, the onions and potatoes will last the longest, so plan for those meals to be towards the end of the week. The meal with the fresh basil should go first, followed by the meal with fresh lettuce, and meal with scallions. This way those fresh produce items you bought won’t go bad before you’re able to use them. Produce can be expensive, so don’t give it a chance to spoil on you
I hope you’ve all enjoyed my tips and tricks! Use one, or use them all, and you’ll enjoy getting the most out of your groceries.