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Niche Topics (Money and Lifestyle) is about helping you manage your finances so that
you live comfortably within your means. We share frugal living ideas such as save
money around the house, cheap to make recipes, budget-friendly solutions for everyday
living, recycling crafts, helpful hints to buy things without getting burned, and
I understand exactly how you feel. I grew up in a large family with eight where money
was often tight and the grocery budget was always stretched to the limit. But, my
frugal mother would make sure that no one goes to bed hungry at night.
Rising food costs can eat up a huge chunk of your household expenditure, but smart
grocery shopping will make your food dollars stretch and help you save money on groceries.
How to Save on Grocery Shopping
1. One of the best ways to save on cooking and grocery expenses is to plan your meals
ahead of time. Write down the meals you plan to cook for the week, then look through
your pantry, refrigerator and freezer, and take stock of what you already have on
When you meal plan, it's a good idea to use what you have and go for recipes that
use fewer ingredients. Using fewer ingredients usually means you spend less on groceries
and also save time in the kitchen. A dish that calls for all sorts of exotic or out-of-season
ingredients will usually cost much more. And, it will go to waste if you don't use
these ingredients up right away and have remaining package rotting in your refrigerator.
You probably know about using coupons for groceries can save you piles of cash, so
find grocery coupons from your local newspaper, sign up for coupon senders online,
printable coupons, etc and get the lowest price possible for your grocery items.
Additionally, opt for store brands when buying condiments, they are a better deal
and just as good as name brands, and won't leave your wallet empty.
Keep in mind that going to the grocery store without a shopping list is the fastest
way to spend money on something you don't need. Buying impulse items can add extra
dollars to your total grocery bills.
2. Most supermarkets mark down the prices of food items at a specific so plan your
grocery trips around those times (early morning, late afternoon, early evening) to
catch the reduced-for-quick-sale items.
These marked down foods – meat and bakery products – usually have short shelf life
and have to be consumed within 1-2 days or before the use-by date, but you can freeze
them for later use. Bread, for example, will keep very well for several months in
the freezer if you double wrap it and place in a freezer bag.
Make sure to check out the mark down aisles, clearance bins, or grocery baskets.
You never know where the bargains are. If you're lucky, you can even find high end
items for a fraction of the cost.
If you grocer is selling ground turkey at a bargain, you can use it in recipes that
calls for ground beef. You save money, fat, and calories. Frozen turkey is super
cheap during Thanksgiving super sales so buy as many as you can store in your freezer.
Another way to get the most bang for your buck is buy large packages of meat. Take
it home, divide into individual portion sizes and freeze. You can use cheaper meat
cuts for stews and curries.
Frozen veggies also help to stretch your food dollars as they tend to be cheaper
than fresh vegetables. Many people think frozen vegetables are less nutritious but
that's untrue – they are frozen for optimal taste and nutrient preservation. And,
the added bonus is no wastage (minimal) from spoilage.
3. Making pantry staples from scratch can be a real money saver, and also allows
you have more control over the ingredients as well as taste. Consider homemade pasta
sauce, vinaigrette, jam, vanilla sugar, etc instead of using store-bought ones.
Cakes, muffins and cookies are a whole lot cheaper and healthier if home made. Granola
bars are really easy to make at home but crazily expensive at the stores. Snacks
such as popcorn, pumpkin seeds, and yogurt don't cost a lot of money when you make
4. You can save even more money when you use leftovers from one meal to create another
meal. For example, if you have leftover mashed potato or vegetables, you can use
these leftovers to make a delicious potato pot pie for dinner. There is no need for
a side dish if you also add chopped chicken or ground beef.
Leftover cooked salmon combined with chopped sweet pickles and diced onions, makes
a healthy sandwich filling. Use leftover rice to make coconut rice for breakfast.
Transform leftover pasta into a tasty pasta salad.
5. You would be pleasantly surprised at how much you can save on food bills, if you
cut out red meat such as beef once a while. Eggs, like beans and tofu, are a cheaper
alternative to red meat and can be prepared in a variety of ways so your children
won't think they're eating the same stuff everyday.
Make sure to rotate the menu to keep things interesting. For example, if eggs (frittata)
are eaten on Monday, you can cook tofu (tofu burgers) on Tuesday, beans (mixed bean
stew) on Wednesday, and back to eggs (quiche) later in the week.
By Robert Banks
My husband lost his job recently and money is really tight at the moment. We have
2 teenage sons going through major growth spurts, but frankly we cannot afford plenty
of food to satisfy their ravenous appetites everyday. I'm looking for ways to save
on groceries so that I can put more food on the table. – Lynda, Dallas.