Ten simple swaps to stretch your grocery buck
These days groceries seem to cost more every month. You may not be able to prevent price increases. But it’s still possible to save money, especially if you keep your eyes open and are willing to think flexibly. Here are ten quick examples to help get your creative juices flowing.
1. GO GREEN
Store leftovers in reusable plastic containers whenever possible instead of using plastic wrap or foil.
2. TASTE TEST
Try one generic-brand grocery item each week. They might not all work for you, but most likely you’ll find a couple good affordable substitutes a month.
3. SAY NO TO LIMP LETTUCE
Buy less lettuce and more cabbage. Cabbage lasts weeks in the fridge, is much better for you, and is hugely versatile. (Just one idea: Thai Pasta Salad)
4. STRETCH TACO MEAT
When making tacos, substitute lentils or rice for 1/4 to 1/3 of the beef and add a dab more taco seasoning to boost the flavor. (Make your own taco seasoning for more savings.)
5. GO VEG
At least once a week serve rice and beans instead of a meal containing meat. Rice and beans can absolutely be yummy!
6. DIY DRESSING
Making your own salad dressing is so easy that a 10-year-old can do it, and it’ll cost half what store-bought costs.
7. WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Substitute tap water for other drinks one or two meals a day. Drink it instead of cola to save even more money. You might even lose some weight. Most of us get plenty of calories and nutrition from eating anyway.
8. THRIFTY SPICE
Instead of buying your spices in spendy lil’ jars, buy them in the bulk food department. (Other good options: the Mexican food aisle and the dollar store.) Your per-ounce savings will be huge. Just be sure to label your spices with a bin number AND a name, since it’s often hard to tell what’s what once you get home. Baby food jars or half-pint jam jars make great storage containers.
10. EASIEST PIZZA EVER
Instead of ordering take-out or buying frozen pizza, make your own french-bread pizza. Slice a loaf of french bread length-wise. Lay the two half-loaves cut side up on a cookie sheet. Spread with pizza sauce, cheese, pineapple and pepperoni. (Ranch dressing, chopped garlic, cubed chicken, and mozzarella cheese is also yummy.) Bake in a 450 degree oven til the cheese is browned and bubbly on top. You’ll be eater faster than if you’d called Pizza Hut. For even greater money savings (but a bit more time investment), make your own pizza dough.
Those are just a few quick swaps that will save you money on food. Now, wise readers– to make this post even better, will you share your best money-saving swaps in comments below? To make it even more fun, I’m going to choose one commenter to win a copy of my book Family Feasts for $75 a Week.
You may also be interested in reading about the $20 experiment we did to help prepare our teens to shop for themselves someday.