1. Buy seasonally.
You won't find strawberries for $1.00 a pound in December! But, you will in May or June. Buy hard winter squash in the fall. Buy asparagus and strawberries in spring. Buy sweetcorn in summer. I purchase a boatload of these items when they are fresh. Then, I process and freeze them for later use. I don't pay $2.50 a pound for strawberries in December. Instead, I enjoy the satisfaction of eating those that I bought for $1.00 per pound in May!
2. Minimize the meat.
At the risk of seeming redundant, the cheapest protein sources are plant-based. You all know that I eat a whole foods plant based diet. However, I recognize that not all of you are going to give meat the heave ho - although I would love it if you did. I've had lots of readers bemoan the fact that their spouse and children give them major grief about serving meat-free meals. So, here's what you can do to keep meat in the minor key.
Let's use chili as our example. Determine how much ground beef really has to be in that chili soup. Add more beans and half the amount of beef. You can also supplement by adding brown rice, millet, barley, or extra veggies. That same pot of soup will now stretch 30-50 percent further.
Want to stretch that chili even further? Plan ahead! Chili mac becomes another meal! Reserve 4-6 cups of the chili before you serve it. The next night cook some elbow macaroni, add the reserved chili, top it with a bit of cheddar cheese. Cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes - until the dish is heated through and the cheese is bubbly. Voila! That soup has now made another appearance in a totally separate way. Your family will never suspect that you have just pulled the budget magic trick of planned leftovers out of your hat!
Still need inspiration? Here are some examples of fast and easy meals that can be served meat free: taco bar, baked potato bar, soup, spaghetti, and stir fry.
3. Don't be brand sensitive.
When I was in high school the father of one of my friends had worked in a food packaging plant. He revealed he routinely placed flour into sacks labelled with a famous name brand. Later, he put the exact same flour into generic packaging. The only difference between the more expensive and less expensive product, was the package! Although that conversation took place nearly 40 years ago, I have never forgotten it. Give the generic version of some of your favorite products a try. If you truly find a difference that is distressing for you, you can always go back to the name brand item the next time you shop.
4. Know your "stock up" price.
What is a "stock up" price? It is when products reach their lowest sale price. Grocery prices follow a pattern. If you watch the sales flyers carefully, you can know when to stock up at the lowest price. It is helpful to keep a price ledger. This is simply a list of items that you regularly purchase and their prices. For a long time, my price ledger simple was a small notebook in my purse with columns for item, price, store, and date. Because grocery stores follow a fairly predictable pattern, you can begin to figure out that peanut butter generally goes on sale every 12 weeks. Some items are put on sale every quarter, for others it is bi-yearly.
For canned vegetables, my stock up price is $.29 a can. When they reach that level, I stock up! I mean I buy cases of corn, beans, and mixed vegetables. My only caution is to be certain that you have space to store your haul. Know what's in your pantry. Here is a link to a post that I wrote on organizing your pantry to help save time and money.
5. "Look High, look low".
Did you know that product manufacturers often pay something called slot fees to retailers to insure premium places on their shelves? One of my favorite classes in college was advertising. We studied all of the sneaky ways that stores try to get you to spend money. It was fascinating!! I learned that stores stock the least expensive items on the top and bottom shelves. The most expensive, name brand versions are placed at eye level. So, when you look for peanut butter, use the "look high/look low" method of shopping. Also, bring along a calculator to figure out the price per ounce. Another grocery store trick is that although they now show price calculations on the sale tags, they are not consistent with how they display the information. So, one tag might show price per ounce and others for the same type product may show the price per pound or per unit. I always use a calculator to double check to insure that I am getting the best deal.
What did I miss?
Do you have any tips to add to our list? Leave comments below.
Don't Miss Any of My Posts!
Follow me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/underthemedian/
Sign up to receive my posts via e-mail by filling in the "follow by e-mail" link on the main page.
Do all to the glory of God,