First off, Happy New Year to all my readers!
I am known by all my friends and family members as a coupon clipper/deal finder extradorianaire. I will admit… I am a reformed shoppaholic. With our recent economic conditions within the past two years I have found a lot more pleasure saving money than spending it!
As we start a new year everyone has resolutions or goals that they want to conquer in the new year, and after reading quite a few newspaper articles on Sunday about budgets and resolutions I figured it would be a good time to share some of my tips and tricks in the kitchen!
1. Sign up for weekly/monthly emails with the product sites you typically use the most. For instance I receive emails from: Uncle Ben’s, General Mills/Betty Crocker, and Barilla just to name a few! In these weekly/monthly email newsletters I receive helpful recipes and best of all coupons in which I can print out!
2. Sign up for weekly email alerts from your local grocery store so you can map out what is on sale and what is buy one get one free. I guarantee once you start watching the sales at the grocery store you will become a pro at knowing the sale circulation. At my local grocery store I know that once a month I can count on salad dressings, cerals, and canned goods to be buy 1 get 1 free!
3. Shop at a local produce/meat market. You will save TONS of money! Although you have to get use to making multiple trips to a few different places if you learn to take a smart route it will all be worth it! For instance, today I went to our local produce/meat market to restock my refrigerator and freezer! I spent $35 on meat and in return I got 12 boneless skinless chicken breast, 4 bone-in chicken breast, 3lbs of lean ground beef, 15 breakfast sausage patties (which I repackage and place 5 each into freezer zip lock baggies, 1lb of bacon, and chicken tenders! If I went to my local grocery store my meat bill alone would have been close to $100!
4. Get organized! Sit down before you go to the grocery store. Make a list of all the meals you want to make for the week. Then raid your pantry, fridge, and freezer. See what ingriedients you already have. Then make a shopping list off of that. If there is something that is “exotic” to your menu try to find a few different ways to put it in. What I mean by exotic is something that you normally don’t have on hand. For us it would be mushrooms! I’m not a fan of mushrooms but some recipes call for it and I really don’t think there is an honest way to substitute it! So this week we will be having a sausage, wild rice, and mushroom soup–that’s my main recipe it calls for. I will also add some chopped mushrooms to Jon’s egg’s in the morning and throw it into another meal or two… just so we don’t waste the ingriedent! If all else fails most of the time you can freeze it! Just about anything and everything can be frozen. So whatever mushrooms I have left over at the end of the week (or prior to them looking tired) I will cut up and place in a zip lock freezer bag, labeling and dating the bag. That way I can use it later on and not be wasteful!
5. Every couple of months I like to do an all out fridge and freezer clean-out. You know all the stragglers that have been sitting in there for a few months that should be consumed before they go bad (I find that this mainly this happens with the freezer). I force myself to make only what I have on hand and only buying the basics like eggs, bread, and half and half! This will force you to spend less for a few weeks and concentrate on using all your food–not wasting! *Don’t get me wrong there are times when I am forced to throw out a few items here or there that just never made it to consumption.
6. Stretch leftovers. I find myself stretching my leftovers into a whole new meal… sometimes my husband does not even realize it! Most of the time I make soups out of them, and pair them with our lunches that we take to work. Other times we have soup for dinner… it’s just another way to not be wasteful and to help the wallet!
7. I mentioned this above… bring your lunch to work!!! Yes, that’s right. Stop being lazy and eating out every day! Start using that money on exciting things that you can do other than eating… like a day at the spa or that trip to Europe that you’ve always dreamed about! If you plan accordingly and take an hour on your Sunday you can prepare quite a few healthy and inexpensive snacks for the week. Purchase a variety of fruit and make a fruit salad (placing small portions into easy to take tupperware), buy a large container of yogurt and use some of your fruit to make a nice yogart parfait. Buy a bag of grapes, rinse them, and place them into individual servings. The same goes with vegetables or dips. All it takes is a little planning to save some money!
With these small tips I’m sure you’ll find your grocery bill gradually decrease over time!