Cooking at home is one of the best ways to manage the grocery budget. Frugal shopping for the ingredients further helps. Not only will you be saving money, but you can eat more nutritionally, by eating at home and knowing what is really going into your and your family’s diet.
- Plan your meals ahead of time – Take a look at what is on sale each week, and plan your meals around sale items such as meat, chicken, etc. Typically, each store will have the basic items on sale once per month.
- Cook seasonal produce – Not only is seasonal produce less expensive, it often tastes better since it doesn’t have to be shipped great distances (often from other countries to have a different climate than where you are located).
- Buy local – Buying locally produced foods are less expensive since they require less fuel to reach your table. Farmer’s Markets (local market’s in your area can be found at Local Harvest) and Pick Your Own Farms (local farm listings are at Pick Your Own) are great locations to purchase fresh produce that’s locally grown and picked while it’s at the peak of flavor. Some supermarkets also provide regional products.
- Plant a vegetable garden – This is the most economical source for high-quality produce.
- Use coupons and store sales – Find bargains on your favorite items. If you don’t get the Sunday paper for circulars, you can usually find the items on sale at your favorite grocery store’s web site.
- Do the prep work – The bagged salad greens, prepared produce, and shredded cheese are much more expensive than already prepared items. This convenience can really add up on the bottom line of your grocery bill, and add increased risk of contamination at the processing plants. It takes a minute to cut up a head of broccoli and can be about half the price of purchasing the cut up flowerets. Setting aside an hour our two a week and to do the slicing, chopping, and shredding (if you can get the kids involved, that’s even better). Preparing these items yourself will provide you with both the cost savings and the convenience when you need it (trying to put together a quick dinner after work or grabbing a healthy snack).
- Stock up when prices are good – Stock the freezer and pantry when frequently used items go on sale.
- Reduce waste – When you roast a whole chicken or turkey, use the bones and a few vegetables to make a stock and freeze for future use.