Grocery Budget & Pantry Stocking
Three easy ways to save at the grocery store
- Plan ahead before venturing out to the store. Create a weekly menu, and make a list of ingredients you’ll need to make each recipe. You can use sale circulars and flyers to create menus based on weekly sales. When making your list, be sure to check for ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. Double checking helps avoid the sinking feeling you get when you discover that you spent money on an item that you already had.
- Check the unit cost of similar items to ensure you’re getting the best deal. This is where the your phone calculator comes in handy. To find the unit cost, divide the total cost of the item by the number of units in the product (ounces, milliliters, grams, etc.).
- Use coupons with caution. Coupons are frequently offered for national brands instead of generic or store brands. Even with the coupon, that national brand item may still be more expensive than the generic equivalent. Generic and store brands are usually comparable in quality and taste and tend to cost less.
Stocking the Pantry
In times of uncertainty, our thoughts often turn to our food supply and feeding our
families healthfully while keeping budget in mind. There are many things that we
can do to make sure we have what we need on hand without having to buy a large
quantities of food.
Don’t forget to consider your freezer space. Fresh meat and poultry can be purchased in bulk and frozen in smaller amounts to save money in the long run. Frozen fruits and vegetables are often a great choice because they are usually picked and packed on the same day and retain their nutritional value and they last much longer than fresh.
Consider stocking up on a few items from each of the five food groups to make well-balanced meals.
Fruits and vegetables
Rinsing canned vegetables removes some of the sodium, but you can also buy lower-sodium varieties often at the same cost. Try to purchase canned fruit in its own juice or water instead of canned in syrup because it’s lower in sugar. Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce can be used for a variety of dishes like soup, chili, pasta sauce and casseroles.
Try to have some canned or dried beans, canned fish, nuts and nut butter in your pantry. Beans, lentils and other legumes can be especially low-cost and used in a variety of ways.
Grains are very shelf-stable and versatile. Rice, pasta, couscous and other grains can be used as side dishes, or to make many different other dishes such as soups, stews and casseroles. Whole grain foods like oats can be eaten for breakfast, but don’t forget you can also to use them in muffins and cookies to boost nutrients and fiber.
There are many varieties of shelf-stable fluid milk available, but people don’t often realize that fresh milk can be frozen for up to three months. If you find some on sale and have a little extra freezer space, pick up an extra gallon or two. Solid cheese can also be grated and frozen, but once it’s thawed after freezing, the texture may change somewhat.