Here are some of the top tips for making the most of your meal money
By Matt Smith
Being on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t eat your fill of tasty, nutritious food. With a bit of planning, you and your family can enjoy fresh home-cooked meals with real ingredients—and for less than resorting to prepackaged meals and takeout. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your grocery budget every week.
– Take time to plan out your weekly meals, including breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.
– Check through the weekly fliers highlighting the sales at your local supermarkets.
– Plan today’s or tomorrow’s meals according to what’s already in your fridge. Use up what you have so that it doesn’t get forgotten and wasted.
– Try to plan at least one meatless meal a week—beans and other proteins are much cheaper than meat.
At the Store
– Stick to the shopping list you made at home. Don’t buy on impulse.
– Use your phone’s calculator to keep a running total of your bill, making sure you’re within budget.
– Don’t shop when hungry, and stay away from the central aisles of the store to avoid being tempted by convenience and junk foods.
– Check the “price per gram” label on the shelf tag to accurately compare prices.
– Buy whole grains and dried foods in bulk.
– Choose healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts, and yogourt instead of packaged junk food.
– Don’t see only what’s directly in front of you—often the most expensive foods are at eye level, so scan the shelves for better deals.
– Consider the store or generic brand, as the products will often be indistinguishable from their name-brand equivalents.
– Try to stick with in-season produce, and pay visits to your local farmers’ market if you can.
– Buy fresh veggies and meat in bulk and use your freezer.
Back at Home
– Schedule one day a week for meal preparation; make a big batch of something so that you’ll have leftovers, and pack lunches and snacks for the coming days.
– Add ingredients to stretch meals, such as beans and rice to stews and chilis, and frozen veggies to pasta or rice dishes.
– Make sure that you’re using your fridge properly; keep vegetables and dairy stored in the proper drawers, and ensure that the temperature is correct to avoid wasting food.
– Store compost such as bones and the ends of vegetables in a freezer bag to use to make a base for soups and stews.
– In addition to freezing, canning and dehydrating are great ways of preserving fresh produce if you have the time.
Photo: Dreamstime/Andrey Kiselev.