After sheltering, food is often the biggest item in your budget. So, how do you cut costs for food?
The biggest weapon in the fight against food overspending is menu planning. How do you do it? Well, you’re accessing the Internet right now and that’s really half the battle. And since you’re here, we have some simple tips to make sure you plan your weekly menu and stick to it.
1. Check weekly advertisements for some grocery stores in your area.
Write down the products you like that are being sold and do the same for meat and fish.
2. See what you’ve got.
Next, consider your refrigerator and cabinet. Write down whatever you have and need to use it all. Also, take notes of whatever you need such as milk, eggs, etc.
3. Plan the days you don’t cook/bring lunch.
Now, take a look at your calendar for the week. Working late on Tuesday? Try to find a slow recipe that you can start in the morning. Going to dinner on Friday? Don’t plan for that day. Lunch served at work on Monday? Ditto.
4. Be disciplined when you go grocery shopping during the week.
Now, the hardest part: Go to the store and only buy what’s on the list. If you really cut back and really don’t believe in yourself then only take cash. I’ve been doing that for years! And more than once I’ve suffered the displeasedness of having to ressue an item because I don’t have enough money. It happens, you’ll live, I promise.
5. Try themed nights for easier planning.
Once you’ve mastered the basic menu plan, you can opt for theme nights like Taco Tuesday or Mushroom Monday to consider “what we’re going to do tomorrow.” We’ve had breakfast for dinner on Tuesdays for years.
6. Make a basic meal that you can reheat.
I also try my best to combine a meal at a very low cost per week, usually a dish with beans and rice like… Uh… beans and rice with tortilla chips and salsa or mujadara with pita and hummus. You will find what works for you and your family.