Save on Groceries without Feeling the Pinch

photo credit: ckforjc

The expression “old money” refers to families who retain wealth for generations, understanding the importance of preparing for unknown future emergencies. Problems don’t need to be as drastic as a national depression or unemployment to have devastating results. Unexpected health challenges or a surprise baby can be enough to wreak havoc on a marginally stable budget. Following these tips will help your family become more financially stable.

Watch Unit Prices

Until recently. comparing different sizes of packages was time consuming and required a calculator or strong math skills. Many supermarkets now include the price per pound or fluid ounces with the price on the shelf. Having this information makes it simple to decide which is the most cost effective.

In general, single serving units are the most expensive. Mid-sized packages are slightly less money and bulk containers are generally the least expensive per unit. Remember to read the label carefully because sales, coupons and brands may make smaller sizes more cost effective than larger ones.

The More The Merrier

Don’t get carried away by buying large sizes. This is especially important when shopping in wholesale warehouses where unit costs can be higher than supermarkets. These shops know that most consumers will not do the math.

Make sure that you only purchase large packages of food that you are sure your family will eat. For example, kalamata olives might look wonderful in a huge 64 oz glass jar, but that jar will take up space in your refrigerator for quite some time before you get to the last pit! Look for bulk packages which are wrapped in meal sized portions and stored appropriately to minimize spoilage. You aren’t saving anything if it gets thrown out.

How To Save On Meat

As meat approaches the sell by date, the price may fall. If you are purchasing meat for use in the next day or two, or if you plan to immediately repackage it for freezing, it may be an inexpensive way to save money. Remember that while meat stays safe indefinitely at or under 0F, flavor and texture will begin to suffer after 6 months.

When purchasing in bulk, divide the meat up into smaller portions and freeze, making it more practical when looking for a serving size of meat to use. Make sure to mark the date and contents on the outside of the packaging. To keep the best freshness, try to use a food vacuum sealer to reduce the amount of air in the packaging.

Know What’s In Your Pantry

It doesn’t help to have a refrigerator full of food if you forget about it until you smell it spoiling. Purchasing duplicates for the closet and freezer will waste time and gas money, too. Taking a few minutes occasionally to straighten up your kitchen will remind you what you have.

Freezer Cooking

Reusing leftovers is simple, but it’s easy to get bored with the same dishes night after night. An easier way to save time is to cook up staple ingredients without seasoning, package into meal sized portions and freeze. For example, if you know that your family loves Italian food, many easy Italian recipes use tomato sauce. You can make an unseasoned tomato sauce and take out portions to make quick pizza, pasta dishes or even cream of tomato soup.

Grinding your own hamburger with a meat grinder saves money and can be cooked up for future meals. If your family prefers lower fat options, it can be simmered instead of fried. The rendered fat from the cooked ground meat will drain away with the cooking water.

Lean ground meat is always more expensive, such as buffalo meat, but this cooking method will let you purchase cheap meat without needing to worry about your fat intake. If you can’t afford a grinder, or simple aren’t interested in using meat grinders for home use, yet have a food mixer like a KitchenAid, try purchasing a grinder attachment which is much less expensive.

If you are cooking long grain white or brown rice to go with an Asian themed meal, double the amount of rice and package for the next day’s dinner. Cold rice is firmer than freshly cooked, making it perfect for homemade fried rice. Leftover rice can also be put in casseroles or warmed up and served alongside any dish with gravy.

Save Money On Lunches

Unless your children receive free lunch from school, it is generally less expensive to bring lunch to school than it is to purchase the school lunch options. If your children enjoy what they had for dinner the night before, bringing a lunchbox or thermos for another round may be appreciated. Many lunchboxes are available in larger sizes for adult portions, too. Don’t forget to include frozen gel packs if a refrigerator is not available to keep the food cold until lunchtime.

Time For A Caffeine Fix

It’s easy to fall into the habit of picking up a cup of coffee on the way to work, at lunchtime and on the way home from work, but the cost can add up quickly. For cappuccino fans, an inexpensive stainless steel stovetop espresso maker will make espresso quickly on your stove at home while you heat up milk in a travel mug in the microwave. If you prefer the fancy drinks, add a squirt of caramel sauce or chocolate syrup to flavor the drink.

While you are at work, keep a jar of Medaglia D’oro instant espresso in your desk. It is easily prepared to make a quick espresso for only pennies a serving. When mixed with boiling water and the coffee powder, instant fat free milk makes an acceptable cappuccino, too. It can also be added to packaged hot cocoa mix to make an inexpensive mocha drink.

Trimming your food budget may not be necessary, but by the time you are facing a financial crisis, it will be too late. Instead, follow these tips and save the money now. You can always use the saved money to splurge on a kitchen appliance that you wouldn’t normally be able to afford – or justify.

Contributed by:
Liz Krause is the youngest of 5 children. She was raised in an Italian home where her mother was always under pressure to cook three meals a day all the while meeting the household budget. She learned at an early age the value of being frugal when it came to cooking and food. Today she is married to an Italian and manages her own Italian cooking website which features information about common appliances used in Italian cooking such as meat slicers reviews along with a variety of easy and fun recipes for the cooking enthusiast.

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