With the cost of nearly every food ingredient rising steadily, knowing how to implement strong frugal food strategies is a life skill people can no longer afford to leave undeveloped. There is no shortage of articles on the subject, but the time to sift through thousands of individual recipes is hard to find when you have other priorities on your plate like earning a living. That’s why I feel it’s more helpful to think of grocery savings in terms of categories. This leaves the door open for people to explore individual recipes and ingredients that suit their particular family needs, while still providing some direction with regards to saving money on the food bill.
Go international for flavorful food fun that won’t break the bank.
Many popular ethnic foods are extremely affordable, making international cuisines a powerful grocery-savings strategy for the at-home cook. Basically, any type of ethnic food that relies heavily on plant-based foods and incorporates legumes regularly is a safe bet when it comes frugal flavor. Examples include Mexican dishes such as bean burritos, Caribbean food items such as coconut rice with pigeon peas and a number of Indian meals such as saucy lentils and vegetable biryani.
Strategic side dishes can shave serious dollars from your grocery receipt total.
We all want to serve something the whole family will enjoy sitting down to experience together, but blowing the budget on fancy extras can leave you short on savings for other necessities when they arise. That’s why having some favorite frugal side dishes you can regularly rely on at dinner time makes excellent money-saving sense. There are still nutritious and affordable ways to dress
them up. For example, one of our favorite ways to enjoy sautéed string beans is with a little minced garlic and sesame seeds. This doesn’t represent a huge cost to us, but provides way more wow factor than the plain steamed variety.
Making your own dry mixes is a seriously underutilized saving strategy.
While it may not seem like much to tack on a few extra bucks for convenient baking mixes, the truth is making things from scratch is literally a fraction of the cost. The problem? Time. That’s where creating your own dry mixes in bulk comes into play. By purchasing or saving large one – five gallon containers with airtight lids and creating mixes in bulk every few months, you can easily save both time and money. Whipping up a bulk batch of homemade corn bread mix, followed by a small pan of the finished product for dinner one evening, takes virtually the same time as simply baking the bread does.
However, the end result is that you have a large batch of dry mix that’s just as convenient as what you’d buy at the store standing ready for you to use the next ten or twelve times you need it. Similarly, homemade brownie mix in bulk is great for those small, square pans of treats the kids enjoy having after school. There are many other online recipes for making your own dry mix, including ideas for pizza dough, baking mix, pudding and more. Find a few that work with your family’s meal preferences, and start saving today!
Precision meat purchases represent powerful savings opportunities.
Having a long-term love affair with meat can mean major money getting added to your overall food budget. There are ways to indulge your carnivorous tooth without going broke, however. Using ground beef as a seasoning item, stretching seafood for further savings and embracing stir fry dishes and soups with gusto are all excellent ways to enjoy your meat money to the fullest. For poultry fans, there are a number of ways to save money on chicken as well, including the purchase of those large bags of chicken leg quarters, making your own stock and more.
Stick with nutritious, cheap food choices.
Those who know me well are aware that I pride myself on learning how to prepare tasty tidbits from the cheapest of grocery items. You know, the ones most people turn their noses up at on a regular basis. After all, how much enjoyment can you get from things like frozen spinach, brown lentils, cauliflower and chick peas? Plenty. Embracing cheap food items from the healthier areas of the grocery store will have you feeling more energetic and in control of your weekly grocery costs in no time. Roasted cauliflower steaks can be extremely succulent if prepared properly, and collard greens offer consistent nutrition for a song. These high-nutrient foods also are lower in calories, enabling you to fill up faster on the good stuff while maintaining a calorie count your doctor will give you a gold star for.
Buying affordable food for your family doesn’t have to mean skimping on nutrition. These money-saving shopping and meal planning strategies will have you on straight path to savings in no time.
What are your frugal food strategies?
A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.