When you run into a month where there are “more days than money” here are some quick tips to help you cut back on your grocery bill.
Make an inventory of what you have on hand
Look in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Make a list of every meal you can make without buying anything. Think about leftovers from dinner to provide lunch the next day. Here are some ideas for using up leftover bits:
- If you’ve got a bit of plain yogurt and some milk (even dried), you can make more yogurt
- Make a good soup from whatever you have around
- Make pizza or calzones from little bits of meat and vegetables
- If you have tortillas, make quesadillas (or make your own tortillas)
- Make a chicken pot pie or beef pot pie with leftover chicken can become chicken pot pie
- Make fried rice or lo mein with leftover meat of any kind (or just veggies)
You get the idea. And in the future, these ideas might provide some incentive to save those bits of leftovers rather than throwing them away.
What can you make by buying just one more thing?
Get creative. If you just had X, you could make Y. Scour your old cookbooks. Look in the more “complete” ones that often have great ideas for using up stuff. Search the web with phrases like “leftover chicken recipes.” Bake bread or muffins if you can.
Shop the loss leaders to round out your menu
By now you probably have nearly a week’s worth of menus. Pull out your grocery ads. Or go online to the SundaySaver. Think how you can stretch meat by lessening the amount of meat you use for a serving. Stretch it with fried rice, soup, burritos, and casseroles.
And even if you aren’t vegetarian, think about some great vegetarian meals you can make. A pound of dried beans around here is usually around $2. Pinto beans and cornbread will fill you up cheaply. Or cook them up and refry them for chalupas. If you’ve got eggs, make a quiche. Broccoli and tofu with peanut sauce over rice is cheap and healthy. Many of these vegetarian recipes could become a main dish or be combined to make a complete meal.
Don’t forget breakfast
Boxed cereal can be very expensive. Here are some alternatives to think about:
Think outside the box–just don’t go spend $5 on a box of sugared nothing. Leftovers make a great breakfast sometimes and my kids are partial to soup on cold winter mornings.