About 17 million people living in the United States had to reduce how much food they ate at some point in 2011, according to this news article from a local television station. How about you? I can tell you that I’m always looking at how much we spend on groceries and trying to find ways to save money.
I’ve come up with a very simple process that I go through each week in an attempt to save money and feed my family on a small budget.
1. Find one great deal. Almost every week I can find one meat item at a good price. I buy plenty of it, trying to get some for the freezer if I can afford it. This week was an exception. Without one stand-out item in the ads, I decided on boneless chicken breasts at $1.99/lb.
2. Make meal ideas based on what I have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. In this case, I have a large bag of stir fry veggies, and a lot of rice. I’ll make stir-fry one night. I also have several cans of cream soup, so I’ll use more chicken and rice to make Crock Pot Chicken and Rice, one of my son’s favorite meals. I also have carrots, celery, and onions that need to be used up, along with a huge bottle of chicken bouillon, so we can make a pot of chicken noodle soup.
3. Fill in with other on-hand items. I have some zucchini and yellow squash that need to be cooked, and those will be great with some type of beef. I also have some potatoes that will be good in potato soup this week. We have eggs, and sausage, so I can plan breakfast for dinner one night. Maybe we’ll add pancakes or French Toast with those. In the past, I’ve had meat in the freezer to pull from, but I’ve used all of our meat over the past few months. We’re down to two turkeys, and I’ll cook one if I need to, but I’d like to save them for the Holidays.
Without thinking hard, I’ve come up with several meal ideas, and I have minimal things to buy to complete each meal. I have also managed to save several items in my fridge from the trash can. I do my best to use what we have on hand, and to not throw away food.
What about you? How do you meal plan? How do you save money? Leave a tip or two in a comment and share your secrets!