Thursday, October 24, 2013

How is your grocery bill month to month? Do you end up spending more than you wanted every month? If you are at all like me, a working wife and mother, grocery shopping and meal time can be a stressful and time consuming endeavor. And, if getting the meal on the table for a descent price is not enough, there is the health issue that factors in. Attempting to provide healthy meals that will not empty the pocketbook can be difficult to find! With some great tips, you will see the benefits you receive when you start shopping smart and eating at home. It is worth it!

The following are easy ideas to help you save money when you go to the grocery store and when you are at home cooking.

Be creative
If you forgot or forget something at the store think about what else you might be able to use. For example, I have forgotten to grab butter (a staple item) and potato soup was on the menu for the night. I substituted olive oil for butter that night and it worked great!

Use leftovers
For example, if you have stuff left over from week one, use it the next. Use up all salad stuff and things that can go bad, even if you have to create a new meal that is not on your meal plan. Wasted food = wasted money.

Be a smart shopper!
I think that often people are not prepared when they do go grocery shopping and end up spending more money than they intended to on food that is not healthy for them. Remember the stuff from the meal plan information (below)!

First, do the preparation work at home. Look at the local ads before you go. Make meal plans according to the ads from that week.

Second, be flexible! Recently, while at a grocery store, I saw a special on good quality split chicken breast. They were $1.48/lb. which was a savings of $1.41/lb. off what they normally cost. When I saw them, I had never bought split chicken breast and was not sure of the differences when comparing them to regular chicken breast. So, I asked the guy behind the meat counter. He explained that there was a small bone in the back of the meat that could easily be cut or picked out. I was sold! After cooking the meat to make the meals, I think I actually like this cheaper meat better! It was juicier than my normally boiled chicken breasts come out.

Third, do not go to the shops hungry! Why does it seem that you rush off to the grocery store and once there, while shopping for food, you suddenly realize that you are very hungry? This almost guarantees that you will spend money on food that you do not need and is most likely not healthy for you.
Be prepared
When you leave to go shopping, pick a time where you do not feel rushed. This will better help you to stick to your list and to eating better foods!

Have staples on hand
Here is a list of things to have on hand for cooking and baking. These are the items I have found most helpful. Look through the list and decide what items your family uses, then add and subtract items as it makes sense for you and your family.

White Flour
Wheat Flour
Quick Oats
Shortening or Lard
Oil (olive or grape seed are best)
Frozen Vegetables (whatever is cheap and your family likes)
White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Herbs/spices (like garlic, cumin, ginger, parsley, oregano, etc.)
Bouillon Cubes (Chicken)
Bread Crumbs
Soy Sauce
Worcester Sauce
Butter (tub)
Sticks of Butter

Start meal planning!
What is a meal plan, you might be thinking. A meal plan is exactly that, putting together a plan for your meals. Decide what you are going to eat and putting it in to practice. There are many reasons to have a meal plan. Here are a few of those reasons and why they are important.

Save money through a meal plan! Make a meal plan according to ingredients. Put recipes and meals together so that ingredients are not wasted because they are not needed and are, therefore, unused.

Save time through having a plan and shopping lists - When you go to the grocery store, you will have a list to go from and will not by unneeded or overpriced items.

Spend more time together as a family - With a meal plan, you will consequently eat more at home. Dinnertime is a great opportunity to talk and spend time together. Take advantage of this!

Save energy - With a meal plan you will make fewer trips to the grocery store. A meal plan enables you to stop thinking about what you will make for dinner that night, what ingredients you still need for it, and how to put it together. A meal plan helps you to be organized!

Eat healthier - You will not be going out as much with a meal plan ready for you, this will help you eat healthier foods at home! You will eat a better variety of foods since you have thought about it ahead of time. You can plan for healthier meals and start to understand what is going into your body. Thinking through the food you eat will automatically make you more aware and hopefully help you make wise decisions!
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