Food forms a huge part of any family budget. One of life’s essentials, there is no getting away from the fact that food is one of the biggest expenses with which you will have to contend as you try to manage your family’s finances. The good news however, is that food is one of the easiest expenses upon which it is possible to save a considerable amount of money without in any way compromising on quality, taste or enjoyment.
Analyze your existing food expenditure
Saving money on anything will often begin by analyzing how much you currently spend on the item and your spending pattern. This is particularly true of food. What this means is that you have to arrange some time to sit and look at what you buy, whether what you buy is always necessary and your general grocery shopping pattern. It is important to have a sound picture in your head of your present habits before you consider how they may be adapted to save you money.
Where you shop
Unless you live in a rural community, there is a good chance that you will have more than one option when it comes to where you do your grocery shopping. It may be that you have always visited the same supermarket and are reluctant to change but by exploring different options in your area, the savings you can potentially make on a week’s shop may well be considerable. The easiest ways to make these comparisons is from the supermarkets’ websites but a personal visit and browse is always worthwhile. It is a good idea, also, to review this factor on a regular basis as the best value supermarket in your are may vary with time.
When you shop
Grocery shopping when hungry is regularly touted as being a very bad idea. This is because you are far more likely to be tempted by tasty display offerings that you quite simply don’t need, purchases which can considerably add to your bill. It is also a fact that supermarket shopping later in the evening when bargains on products about to expire can be obtained is likely to be a great way of saving money.
Expand the tastes of your family
Is yours a family that always eats the same thing on any given night of the week? Does it have to be a particular brand of pre-made pizza on a Tuesday, or a microwaveable fish dish on a Thursday? Sadly, if your family’s food regime is cast in stone in such a fashion, this factor alone could be considerably increasing your costs. Ready meals are almost always considerably more expensive than their combined raw ingredients so secure the family’s buy in to experimentation and variety. The likelihood is that you will all come to enjoy your food much more in the long term, as well as save money.
Make the most of leftovers
Leftovers are usually considered to be what is left in the serving dishes or pans after the whole family has eaten. While this is one form of leftovers, the second represents those ingredients where you aren’t actually required to cook the entire quantity of a purchased ingredient. This second form of leftovers could relate to anything from six small potatoes, to half a cabbage, to half a can of beans. It is vital that you find ways to use up both forms of leftovers in order to reduce waste and expenditure.
When you have leftovers, the immediate concern is to make sure they are stored properly to ensure they are safely usable at a later time. This may involve cooling and refrigerating, it may mean sealing in an airtight container, or it may mean freezing. Know how each ingredient should be stored and be sure you follow the guidelines. Afterwards, a simple Google search of the word leftover and your ingredients can help you with wonderful, varied and tasty recipes.
One great way of using up small quantities of leftovers is by borrowing the Spanish concept of tapas. This is where a large number of dishes are served in small quantities for people to help themselves to little bits of what they desire. Serving dishes like this with tortilla wraps can be not only a great way of using up these leftovers, it can represent a tasty and fun family meal.
Regularly review your menus
Food costs vary hugely on a regular basis. Try to buy seasonal ingredients which are likely to be cheaper. Look out for special offers in local stores or supermarkets, and arrange to regularly review your family menu if you want to keep on top of your grocery expenses. Remember, the short amount of time you invest in this practice can repay itself many times over financially in the medium to long term.