Recently becoming a stay at home mom has made me realize that I was not following a budget. Let’s face it, I wasn’t even on a budget! Figuring out how to keep my family healthy and not break the bank has been a challenge but I have learned quite a few useful tips and tricks:
Plan Your Meals
Sit down and plan every single one of your family’s meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Having a plan can keep you from having to make impulse buys or going out to eat. Create meals that you can use most of the same ingredients for each week. For instance, make Chili and Spaghetti in the same week to use your tomato sauce, ground meat, and onions or buy oatmeal to use for breakfast and to make oatmeal cookies as a treat.
Write A List and Stick to It
Make a list to include every ingredient you’ll need for the week. It’s best to start this list at least 3 days before you go shopping so you don’t forget to add anything. Once you do go shopping, stick to your list! Don’t pick up any extra snacks, treats, or ingredients that are not on your list. This may take some practice as you’re bound to forget to put some items on your list the first few times you go out.
Make sure you can take your time when you go shopping. When purchasing an item, look at all of the different brands. Sometimes the store brand is not the cheapest! Double check the price per ounce/each as well. In addition, price is not always the only reason to purchase a specific brand. For example, if the cheaper toilet paper goes faster for some reason, you may want to purchase the slightly more expensive brand.
Don’t Buy More Because It’s On Sale
This is a trick that the grocery stores use to make you spend more money. You will most likely be saving only a dollar or two but you’ll end up spending five times that much because you purchased extra. Chances are, the product will expire before you can use it or it will sit in your pantry for 6 months.
Keep Staples On Hand
It’s always smart to have your basic staples on hand so you don’t get caught in a bind and have to do a quick shopping trip or go out to eat. Some staples I like to keep on hand are eggs, milk, shredded cheese, whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, onions, chopped garlic, black beans, canned crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, ground turkey, frozen chicken, frozen corn, and frozen broccoli. You can cook almost anything with these items and they will make your shopping trips much easier if you keep them on hand.
Utilize Your Freezer
Freeze everything! No, not really, but keeping the freezer in mind for your meals is extremely important. Make two pounds of chicken and separate it into bags to use for later. Have leftovers but your family won’t eat them right away? Freeze them! Having trouble with produce or meat going bad before you can use it? Buy it frozen instead and save yourself the wasted money. If you don’t have much freezer space, it may be a good idea to invest in a deep freezer.
Make Meals that Produce Leftovers
This step is imperative to saving you the most money. When planning your meals for the week, ensure that each dinner has leftovers for the next day. Find some easy, delicious ideas here.
Don’t Go Out To Eat
I know this is pretty obvious but when it comes down to it, it’s so much easier to just swing by a fast food restaurant and feed your family. This is why it’s so important to have leftovers in your fridge or freezer so you won’t be tempted to stop on the way home. Also, having a few easy meals that you can make on the fly with your staples is super important.
Invest in a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are seriously the best invention since sliced bread! You can simply “set it and forget it” and come home to a delicious, healthy meal after your long day. You can either start your meals before work or just a few hours before dinner.
Try an Online Grocery Shopping Service
Online grocery shopping can help you plan more effectively and take your time comparing prices. It also lets you stay at home or shop on the go! Try as many free trials as you can. Most online grocery shopping services offer a free trial when you sign up. Try as many different services as you can to decide which one you like. My favorite is Instacart which offers grocery deliveries from many local stores in your area within an hour or two.
Even if you can only manage to accomplish a couple of these tips, you’ll find that you save so much more than you anticipated! Go ahead and start today!
Disclaimer: These statements are the opinion of the author. The information provided in this post is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended to provide medical, legal, or other professional advice. Read and/or use any of the information from this post at your own risk. Some or all of the links displayed on this site may be affiliate links.