We’re always looking for a way to stretch our grocery budget, yes? So today, I’ve gathered ideas to help you do just that. These are ways to stretch the meat in your meal, fill up those kiddos and your husband’s bottomless pit.
When my husband and I were first married we were on an extremely tight budget. After paying for school and covering the cost of living there was hardly anything left. One of the ways I strongly advocate for saving money is meal planning. Click on the link to be taken to my post about that. But another way you can stretch your grocery budget is by incorporating more at the table. Odd, right? To save more, you have to serve more food?
Seriously though, I did just that and suddenly we’re swimming in leftovers! I realized we were going through more meat when I didn’t incorporate additional sides. Turns out our grocery budget was suffering because I had overlooked the basics of preparing a meal! Along with a protein and a carb, I strive to include as many veggies when possible. Fresh is best, but I have a pantry full of canned goods and a freezer with plenty frozen vegetables as well.
So what does this look like in real life terms? Let me use one of our upcoming meals to show you.
Wednesday Supper: Stuffed Green Bell Peppers with a salad.
There are several versions of this meal out there, but ours has diced chicken, brown rice, black beans and diced tomato for the stuffing. In our salad, we generally put boiled egg, cucumber, and avocado (if it was on sale at the store). The black beans and boiled egg are additional protein sources for the meal. Black beans and the brown rice serve as an excellent, healthy carb source. With the additional protein and carbs, this meal is SUPER filling for me, a nursing mother, and my husband (who I have often joked has a bottomless pit. Love you, sweetie!).
Personally, I recommend serving the salad first, or eating it first. About once or twice a month I’ll pick up a box of spring mix, and we’ll have salad almost the whole week as a side. We don’t always make it through before it starts turning, but we eat 80-90% of it! It also really works when you have people over too.
Another thing you can do is make your own snacks! Try to eat/snack somewhat frequently throughout the day. Because then, at supper time, you won’t be starving. You can eat a reasonable portion and feel full. Pinterest is simply full of ideas and recipes for your own snacks. If you don’t have time, or you work outside the home, perhaps look up easy recipes to prep on the weekend that will last the whole week (or several!). Not only will making your own snacks save you money, but they’ll be healthier for you too!
Here are some links to recipes my husband and I have used in the past. (Note: They are sugar-free and generally gluten-free as well. They may require special ingredients, unless you are used to eating this way.)
If you know supper is going to be on the light side (for whatever reason), think about a snack or dessert you could whip together for later in the evening. My husband and I LOVE our popcorn. To wind the evening down, if it’s a weeknight, we gather on the couch with a fresh bowl of popcorn and watch a TV show, but on the weekends we tend more toward movies.
It’s very possible you’ve heard this one already. Buy in bulk! This saves us so much money. But here’s something I bet you didn’t know, you don’t have to go to a special membership store to buy in bulk. Nope! In January 2016 we bought a 50lb bag of oats for 50c/lb and we still haven’t gone through it all. We shop at our local Sprouts Farmer’s Market. They sell bulk items and regularly put the staples we use on sale. Furthermore, when a meat we use goes on sale I try to buy them up (as much as I can without blowing up our budget, hah!) because then our freezer is stocked and ready to go for the foreseeable future.
Play with these tips until they suit you and your hubby. Coupons and cash back are another great way to save. That said, be wary of buying things you wouldn’t normally just because you have coupons! It took me over a year of marriage and a tight grocery budget to get us to where we are today. Thankfully, it’s just a season. Hang in there!
What are some tips YOU have?