It’s said that people eat the same half dozen foods in rotation and rarely
have anything else. That sort of rut is easy to fall into, especially when the
food budget is limited. When people are bored with their choices, finding motivation
to stick to preplanned meals can be difficult. Bringing new dishes into the
weekly rotation can increase your family’s willingness to go without overpriced
Homemade foods are ideal for a family trying to cut back on expenses without
resorting to overly processed, packaged foods. Most simple recipes use a small
number of fresh ingredients and basic techniques. For a well balanced diet,
use healthy fats, whole grains, lots of produce with moderate amounts of lean
meats. dairy and eggs.
Spend some time reading recipes online or cookbooks with your family. This
will give you a good idea of which recipes are likely to be successful, minimize
food waste and save you time.
Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook and The Joy of Cooking
by Irma Rombauer are two examples of cookbooks that focus on teaching basic
cooking techniques. Regardless of your level of cooking experience, these cookbooks
will help you find dishes that your family will love.
Always Use a List
Once you have a good idea of what types of foods your family would like, check
your grocery store’s sale flyer and the coupon leaflets for the week.
For example, if chicken is on sale, try adapting veal or pork recipes to use
the less expensive meat.
Go to your supermarket’s customer service desk and ask to see their printed
coupon policies. Some stores will double coupons. You can time these doubled
coupons to coincide with sales making the product free. It may even give you
“overage”, or money deducted from items without coupons.
Purchasing coupons is illegal, but you can find web sites that offer coupons
for a cutting fee. There are also web sites that help maximize your savings
by matching coupons with store sales for you. With some careful planning, you
can get your groceries for less than 50% of the advertised retail prices. After
looking at these sites, make a thorough shopping list and stick to it. This
list will help you avoid junk food or expensive impulse purchases.
More Ways To Save On Meat
Meat can safely be used for several days past the sell by date on the package.
Near the expiration date, it will often be sharply discounted. This meat should
be cooked right away or packaged carefully and put into a deep freeze.
When large roasts are on sale, purchase several and bring them home. Using
an electric meat slicer, you can slice steaks to custom thicknesses. Select
portions appropriate for your family to eat at one meal and wrap carefully to
prevent freezer burn.
Purchasing bulk meat on sale and using a meat
grinder made for home use gives you the opportunity to create inexpensive
custom blends. Beef and pork are popular for meatballs and meatloaf. To make
a lower fat ground meat, mix beef with turkey or chicken breast. You don't need
to purchase the best meat grinder on the market, but you will want one that
is durable for the amount of meat you use. You can decide if it is more economical
to use your own or simply have the butcher at the store grind it for you.
Other Ideas For Discounted Groceries
Supermarkets will often discount boxes or packages of food that have been damaged.
While dented cans may have botulism contamination, boxes and cellophane packages
with cosmetic damage will be safe to use if they are still sealed. Foods approaching
the sell by date and items that have been discontinued are also frequently put
Damaged produce is often sold for very little money, making them a bargain
even after cutting off the bruised or moldy section. Vegetables and fruit that
have become a little overripe may not be enjoyed raw, but can be cooked into
other dishes where the soft texture will not be noticed.
Big Packages Can Save Big!
When shopping in bulk, it is only a bargain if the unit price (pound, piece,
etc) costs less than at the supermarket, your family likes it, and you have
the space to properly store it to prevent it from being wasted before it is
finished. While airtight packaging in the freezer is ideal for dairy, meat and
bread products, other items may be kept in mason jars at room temperature. Make
sure that you know how to properly store the food before you bring home a large
Learning the normal prices for food will also make it easier to know whether
a sale will actually save you any money. As you use these suggestions, they
will quickly become second nature. Try following them for three months and compare
the results. You are likely to be pleased by how much money you have saved.
Article contributed by SimpleItalianCooking.com, a website started by Liz Krause
featuring Italian recipes - both meat-free and meat-filled. She enjoys writing
about simple Italian cooking because she believes the key to simple low cost
recipes is fresh and flavorful ingredients. She also writes on various topics
slicers for home use, to sharing new recipes and tips.