Running your home can be expensive! From bills to groceries and those annoying surprises that end up costing you an arm and a leg… One of the biggest spends in every home is food; whether it’s groceries or takeout or a combination of the two, you would be shocked to see just how much of your budget is spent on food! Today’s post looks at tried and tested techniques that will help you save on groceries, leaving you with extra cash to play around with.
How to Save on Groceries: Start with a Good Meal Plan
If you’re already hunting around online for tips to reduce household costs, chances are you’ve already stumbled across the concept of meal planning. I never did quite understand just how planning our meals would actually help until I spent the time to actually do it properly!
How to NAIL your Meal Plan:
- The key to effective meal planning is to spend some time making a list of your family’s favourite recipes and expand on it. Start by finding variations of these recipes (do the kids love lasagna? They might also enjoy a hearty tortilla stack!)
- You’ll also want to consider what new meals you are able to make with any leftovers from these recipes, as well as meal ideas to use up any extra ingredients that haven’t already been used (more on reducing waste in the kitchen later on in this post!) This will help stretch out your ingredients, leading to less time spent at the supermarket!
- If you’re looking to mix it up a little and add some variety to your diet, checkout your local grocery store’s current specials and base your meal plan around these items. This method saves you a ton of cash and is a great way to try out different recipes and products.
- Always include versatile staples in your shopping list. For example, keeping a packet of frozen puff pastry sheets on hand gives you an excellent way to use up any leftover meals or ingredients to create delicious flaky pies and pasties, further stretching out your groceries!
Planning out your weekly or even monthly meals and snacks gives you some direction in the kitchen, encouraging you to only purchase the items you actually need and will definitely use rather than buying blind. You’ll find our free weekly meal planner printable here to help get you started!
Reduce & Re-use
As mentioned earlier in this post, one of the most effective ways of saving on groceries and stretching out your meals is to use up any leftovers. This technique can be pushed a step further by eliminating as much waste as possible from your kitchen which will ultimately save you a bundle while also helping the environment; Less waste = Less landfill!
Food waste normally breaks down into the earth in a natural environment; there is nothing natural however, in a landfill! When food waste is combined with plastic bin liners and thrown into landfill where the level of oxygen necessary to decompose food is next to non-existent, it becomes a serious problem as it releases harmful toxins back into the environment (that pong you notice when driving past a tip? THAT!). Reducing your food waste is an excellent step forward in doing your bit to help our environment while also saving on groceries.
There are many ways you can not only reduce your food waste but also create something new from scraps and we’ere not just talking about using leftover pasta for a pasta bake! You can save your veggie scraps in the freezer for example to create your own homemade veggie stock. Your stock can be used as a base for soups and sauces or frozen into ice cubes and tossed into any dish for an instant boost of flavour.
Homemade Vegetable Scrap Stock
- Save all your vegetable scraps from cooking: This includes vegetable peels, tomato cores, the tops and tails from your green beans and carrots, onion peels, etc.
- Store your scraps in a zip-lock bag in the freezer until you have a fair amount. I usually use about 500g to create roughly 5L of stock.
- Once your bag is full, give all your scraps a good wash and throw into your slow cooker or pressure cooker. Season with salt, pepper and your favourite herbs. Fill the cooker with water and set to about 6 hours for a slow cooker and half an hour for a pressure cooker.
- Once ready, drain your stock into a separate pot, setting all the boiled veggies aside for your compost.
- You now have a beautiful and rich homemade vegetable broth that can be used as a base for soups, in your homemade sauces, to flavour rice and much more! I usually freeze my stock into cubes and once frozen, pop them out into a freezer bag so they’re ready to go when needed.
Throughout the process of carefully planning your family’s meals ahead of time, you’ll find creative ways to re-use any leftovers as well as making good use of all the ingredients you have in your kitchen and not just a portion of them. Challenge yourself to not throw anything away in the kitchen and you’ll see just how creative you really can be!
For more inspiration to help you reduce waste in your kitchen (as well as the rest of the home!) checkout one of my favourite books: Waste Not by Erin Rhoads. Erin of The Rogue Ginger discusses her techniques on just how she manages to live as close to a zero waste life as possible in a friendly manner, offering her own ideas, recipes and all important research that help make the journey that much simpler! Checkout our full review here.
A great way to help further stretch out your groceries is to bulk up your dishes using cost effective “filler” type ingredients. No, I don’t just mean adding breadcumbs to everything! As mentioned earlier in this post, you will want to add certain items such as frozen puff pastry to your household essentials or staples shopping list. I also like to include bags of frozen mixed vegetables to this list as well as canned lentils and carrots – the perfect ingredients to add a nutritious “bulk” to our meals. For example, bolognese sauce can be enhanced with the addition of grated carrots, lentils and mixed vegetables, allowing you to get away with only using a small amount of meat while sneaking in a heap of veggies!
There are plenty of ways to save on groceries; the key is to find what works best for you and your family as I have with these tips. I’d love to hear your own tricks to saving cash in the kitchen – Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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