By Kelly Rossiter, Planet Green
The weekly grocery bill takes up a lot of the average family’s income so here are some ideas about how to trim down the bill.
1. Ditch prepared meals right now: Consumers have been led to believe that they don’t have the time to cook and it simply isn’t true. You can have a healthy meal on the table within half an hour. Prepared meals have more fat, more sugar, more salt, more preservatives, and more garbage waste than anything you can cook yourself.
You will be paying significantly more per serving than if you cooked it yourself. Someone has to pay for executive salaries and television advertising, why should it be you?
2. Plan ahead: Yes, this is going to take a bit of effort, but once you get going it will be easy. Make sure you have a well stocked pantry. Canned or dry legumes, rice, pasta, canned tomatoes should all be on hand to make quick, nutritious meals.
3. Plan your week: Take the time to work out a menu plan for the week. Most people grocery shop once a week and they toss things into their carts, without considering what they really need. If you know what you are going to eat, and you have the right ingredients, you’ll be less likely to call for takeout, or head out to the fast food joint.
4. Cook more meatless meals: Meat will consistently be the most expensive food item in your grocery cart. The ready availability of other protein sources allows you to expand your food repertoire and have a healthier diet.
5. If you do use meat, use less: As I pointed out in my weight loss post, no one needs a 10-ounce steak. Cut back on the amount of meat that you cook and increase the amount of vegetables for each serving.
6. If you do use meat, use a cheaper cut: There’s a reason why your mother or grandmother made stew — it’s cheaper. There are lots of recipes for braises and stews that use cheaper cuts of meat and cook for a longer time.
Take advantage of a snowy Sunday afternoon and get something cooking that will fill your house with a wonderful aroma. If you make a large recipe, you will probably get more than one meal from it.
7. Use your leftovers: If you are cooking instead of eating prepared foods, you are going to encounter leftovers. Don’t let them turn to mold in the back of your refrigerator. Add leftover vegetables to soups, toss them into that stew, make a stir fry, or take them to work for lunch.
8. Plan meals that will stretch through the week: If you make a spaghetti sauce one night, make enough to use in another meal. Use it as a soup base or make an eggplant parmigiana.
9. Make friends with your freezer: I admit to being a total hypocrite saying this, because my freezer holds a bottle of gin and martini glasses and precious little else. I don’t work outside of the home, however, so I don’t need to “bank” any food in the freezer. If you are making that spaghetti sauce already, make twice as much and freeze some for another day.
10. Brown bag it for lunch: I sent my kids off to school with a hot lunch every day once they were in high school. Sometimes I made something new, but mostly I just made enough dinner the previous night that I could heat it up in the morning. You have to invest in a good thermos, but it is significantly cheaper than buying lunch in a cafeteria or a restaurant.
11. Forget the pineapple: Unless you live in Hawaii, of course. Buy local vegetables, in season. Support your local farm economy by going to your local farmer’s market.