Some days, it is a struggle to make ends meet. If those “some days” are turning into almost every day, then your spending habits need to be reviewed.
Providing good, nutritious food for you and your family can be a challenge when trying to meet those ends. Begin by making a plan. Determine the amount of money that can be realistically used for the food budget. Look at the grocery store ads to plan meal menus and snacks based on weekly specials.
Eating a variety of foods is important but serving foods that family members won’t eat does not save money.
What do you do with leftovers? One way to eliminate leftovers is to prepare only the needed amount. Another strategy is to use those leftovers in sack lunches for work or school. Make sure the food is kept cool before eating or heating. Some leftovers such as vegetables, sauces and pieces of meat can be combined to make a soup or casserole. Remember, though, to combine those leftovers into something that people will eat and even enjoy. My best example of this was the goulash tacos leftover meal. Years ago, my roommate and I were both student teaching in Rapid City. We had very little money and no relatives nearby to beg for food so the food we bought, we ate. One night, we made tacos. On night two, we made goulash out of the taco meat (this was the type of goulash using ground meat, tomato sauce and macaroni). Night three, we had leftover taco shells and leftover goulash which turned into goulash tacos. It was not the best thing we ever ate but it was edible and, of course, I’ve never made them again.
Another way to view leftovers is to consider the items as planned overs. Plan to use those foods that are leftover. For instance, a pork roast is on sale. Buy a larger roast, knowing that you’ll get more than one meal from the roast. There is the same amount of mess and not that much time difference between a large roast and a small roast.
Substitute generic and house brand items for national brand items in casseroles, soups and salads. The nutritional value is the same but the price is different. Yes, some pieces of the food may be irregular in size but in a casserole, does that matter?
Learn to cook. Sounds simple? It can be. Already know how? Great, put it into practice. Take for instance, boxed rice mixes. These not only cost more, but they are also higher in sodium than rice dishes prepared from scratch. A plain bag of rice is inexpensive and only takes 20 minutes to cook. The quick cooking rice takes 5 minutes but costs more. Add your own seasonings to control the sodium.
Bigger is not always better. The larger size may not be the cheapest, particularly if some of the food goes to waste. Buying in bulk is a good idea if you use the food. If not, consider small amounts.