With the prices of food going up (always!), it’s good to find ways to stretch things, if you can. Fortunately, there are a lot of different ways to make the grocery budget stretch. It seems that I learn new ideas every month, and I love it! Need a few ideas? Here are some of my newest favorite ways to make that grocery budget last a little longer:
- I make gravy after cooking meat in the saucepan. Every time. I sprinkle some bean flour in to thicken, and then I pour some water or homemade chicken stock into the pan, along with some onion powder and sea salt, to take advantage of the delicious drippings and bits left in the pan after cooking. You could also add milk or cream if you choose. Meat is expensive, and so is the olive oil I’ll usually cook my meat in, and I’m not about to let any of it go to waste! I’ll sometimes use it as a gravy, sometimes as a thickener in a soup later.
- I put a filler in my ground meat. Every time. Whether I’m having pan fried hamburgers or meatballs, or taco meat, etc, I always add fillers. Usually I’ll add an egg or two, but not always. Sometimes it’s mashed potato flakes, sometimes it’s pureed beans, sometimes it’s leftover rice. Anything to bulk that meat out is welcome.
- Pop your own popcorn, instead of using the microwave popcorn packets. Sometimes I’ll put 1/2 cup of dry popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag and microwave it like that, and sometimes I’ll pop it over the stove in coconut oil with a little sea salt – yum! It’s generally quite a bit healthier doing it that way as well.
- If you make smoothies or banana bread or things like that, no need to buy full priced bananas. At a few of my local stores, the overripe bananas are available for sale at a nice discount. I’m going to freeze bananas anyway for my banana smoothie, so I buy the discounted ones and freeze the entire batch immediately. I used to buy the regular-priced bananas and then when they got brown I’d freeze them. No more. Now I just buy ‘em brown and save that extra cash.
- Eat leftover rice. This tip is from my husband. I told him that I’ve already shared recipes for this particular tip (HERE and HERE), and he quickly replied, “how about eat leftover mashed potatoes?” Let me sum the whole thing up for you, dear….how about we all just eat leftover FOOD in general? ha ha. I had a good laugh and enjoyed making fun of him. I suppose it IS a good point, anyway. In fact, you can donate a night to leftovers. One less meal to plan for the week.
- Home make your snacks. I no longer buy chips or crackers…this is mostly due to health concerns, but it’s definitely saved money. When I want a crunchy snack, I reach for my homemade roasted chickpeas. And these I NEVER make from the canned chickpeas – oh no, I cook them dry and then roast them. Using dry beans is so much more economical, and I like being able to control the sodium. The same goes for many snacks – cook your own plantain chips, your own potato chips, your own popcorn (as I mentioned above), etc. Tastier, generally healthier, and cheaper!
- Stick with the basics. My diet is fairly predictable, perhaps even boring. Every week includes at least one leftover night. We always have a breakfast or taco night. And you know what? That’s okay! If I ate the nice steak on a regular basis, it wouldn’t be very special anymore, now would it? We definitely do our best to get a variety when it comes to produce, but we also buy in season, which means for the next few months we’ll be eating a lot more oranges. Predictable? Yep. Frugal? Yep again!
Of course, there are dozens of other great ways to save money in the kitchen. What is your tried and true tip?