Face it groceries keep going up while our dollars seem to buy less. Going to the grocery store can be a nightmare for most of us. We know how much we have to spend and try to get the most bang for our bucks. Here are a few tried and true tips to getting out of the grocery on budget with some healthy food for your family.
Meat is expensive. Don't ever buy what is on not on sale. For chicken a whole chicken is cheaper than one already cut up. Get a sharp knife and cut up the chicken at home. If you bake the chicken you can get a couple of meals out of one chicken. Turkeys are usually a good deal because so many meals can be made from one turkey. Flank steak, london broil, and round steak are usually cheaper than sirloins and can be cut up for stew meat. Pork is usually cheaper than beef and boston butts are on sale regularly. A good sized boston butt can make 2 or 3 meals depending on the size of your family.
Fresh produce can be a tough one. First if something is one sale, get it. Next buying foods that are in season is usually cheaper than buying produce that has to be shipped from another country. Right now apples and oranges are in season where I am and so they are inexpensive and make good healthy snacks and side dishes. Celery and carrots are usually cheap and a staple for making soups and salads. Potatoes are a must and stay away from the kind in the box. You are paying dearly for that box. Buy large bags of potatoes. They can be added to soups, stews, mashed, baked, roasted, and fried. They are a good way to fill in a skimpy meal and they are loaded in potassium. Bananas are usually always cheap. We are rarely without bananas in our house.
Beans are a must. They are full of fiber and protein. By themselves they can stand in for meat a couple nights a week, thus stretching your meat supply. They also add bulk to soups and stews and make great side dishes. If you are using them in something like chili you can cut the amount of meat that you use and nobody will miss it. I always keep dried beans and canned beans. Sometimes I need the quick readiness of the canned beans for a recipe and don't have time to cook the dried beans.
Rice is a staple in our house. It is relatively cheap and can be used for so many things, even dessert. Other grains can include barley and couscous. I haven't yet found a barley recipe that I truly like other than soup. So barley is a tough one that I am still working on. I like couscous as a side dish on occasion. Grains add bulk to a meal and much needed nutrition. They are also a great way to complete the protein found in beans which is an incomplete protein.
Look for what is on sale and buy generic.
Sometimes there just is no way around paying the high prices in the dairy aisle. I have a large freezer, best investment we ever made, so when milk and cheese do go on sale I stock up and put it in the freezer. Yes milk can be frozen with no problems. In fact this week milk was on sale for a dollar off per gallon, I bought 6 gallons and that will last hopefully until it goes on sale again. I did the same thing with cheese awhile ago. It was on sale ( a really good sale) so I bought a whole bunch and now don't have to pay full price. I always by block cheese and shredd myself. Shredded cheese is much more expensive because they have done the work for you. Yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese are usually always cheaper the bigger the container that you buy. The small individual containers cost more in the long run.
Oatmeal is a good buy. It can be breakfast, snacks, cookies, even a side dish if needed. I buy the largest container I can find and usually get the quick oats, but will get the old fashioned if cheaper. I usually try to limit how much boxed cereal I buy because even the generic is high priced. However, if there is a good sale I will load up. Usually our store will offer their store brands buy one get one free about once a month or so. Ready made items like cereal bars are always more expensive so choose wisely if you absolutely must have these items.
Medium eggs can usually be found much cheaper than large eggs, check your prices. There really is not that much of a size difference between the two. Some adjustment is necessary in baking cakes and stuff like that, but for most recipes medium will work fine.
These items will eat you alive at the grocery and take much needed money away from buying actual food. Using cloth rags, towels, and napkins will save you alot of money in the paper aisle. If you can change to family cloth instead of toilet paper, then you will save even more. As I have said before, baking soda, white vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide are cheap and healthy cleaning products. You can add lemon juice to the list and give your home a nice lemony smell as well as a good way to disinfect.
The key thing at the grocery store is to buy generic and buy on sale. There are many moms out there who also save a ton of money with coupons. I used to clip coupons when they came in the newspaper and could double them at the store. Most stores won't let you double coupons anymore and they no longer come in the paper. I just don't have the time to search the internet looking for and printing coupons. If you do, it is a good way to say some more money at the checkout. In my next post I will take a look at where the best places to shop are. Happy shopping!