In these tough economic times, it is not easy to stretch your grocery budget. Prices of food are climbing at a steady pace and the average person is not seeing their paycheck climb with it. It might seem impossible to feed yourself on a mere $50, but believe it or not there is a way. It just takes some imagination and planning.
1. Search the internet for cheap recipe ideas. There are so many sites that offer cheap, easy meal ideas. Choose several cheap meals and make a list of ingredients you need that you don’t already have in your pantry.
2. Use coupons. It might seem a little scary or intimidating if you have never used them before, but coupons do save you money if you learn how to use them. Buy a Sunday paper with inserts every couple of weeks and clip the coupons that you can use. You might need to save coupons for a few weeks and wait for sales. Look through your grocer’s fliers and other stores in your area to find the best deals. Find products that are on sale, that you will use and that you have coupons for. The trick is to combine your coupons with the best sales. You can save tons and you’d be surprised how many products you can get for free or just pennies on the dollar.
3. Skip prepackaged, convenience foods. Make your meals from scratch. It saves you so much and is much healthier, without all those nasty preservatives. Instead of buying instant rice in a box or canned beans, buy dry beans by the pound and bags of rice. You usually find them together at the store, toward the bottom of the shelf. You can buy a pound bag of dry beans for roughly $1.50, give or take, depending on the store. They go a lot farther than your canned beans. Buy flour and sticks of butter or shortening to make your own biscuits. There are many free recipes available online.
4. Prepare meals ahead. Instead of buying already prepared meals, take a day on the weekend or whenever you have time off to prepare several meals in advance. Take your recipes that you chose and make them on this day. A lot of meals can be frozen. Cook your dry beans in a crock pot if you have one. Just cover in water, add your seasonings, and cook for most of the day. Freeze what you aren’t planning to use right away. Preparing meals ahead will save you time during the rest of the week, when you are tired from a long day at work.
5. Avoid fast food. It is so tempting to just grab something at lunchtime or after work, but it is so expensive. Use your already prepared meals instead. Make a sandwich for lunch or dare I say, take a package of ramen noodles? It might not be the healthiest choice, but it is super cheap and filling.
6. Shop generic. For the most part, generic brands are just as tasty and healthy as the more expensive name brands. You are often just paying for the name when you buy name brand foods. Sometimes, generic is even tastier. There is nothing wrong with generic. You just have to try it and experiment and give it a chance.
7. Use your leftovers. Don’t throw out your extra food, even if it is just a spoonful. You can freeze what you didn’t use for a “trash soup”, or a casserole. Take leftovers to work for lunch as well.
8. Grow a garden. If you have a little extra time to devote to it, this is a cheap way to get some healthy produce in your diet. Fresh vegetables are not cheap. It is also very rewarding to grow your own food.
These some ideas to get you started. Hopefully it will be of some help.
Here is a list of some cheap food ideas: dry beans, rice, flour (for homemade bread and drop biscuits, pancakes, etc.), eggs, spaghetti sauce, pasta, iceberg lettuce, frozen vegetables, canned tuna, sliced cheese, bread, popcorn (not microwave), potatoes.