budget talk

Food Resolutions for the Budget Savvy

Food resolutions don’t always have to be about dieting. Finding ways to trim your grocery bill in 2009 is definitely something to think about this week. Here are some things I’ve already been doing for the last six months or so.

Buy Less Brand Name Foods
My groceries now consist of at least 50% of supermarket brands and I’d say I save between 25 cents to a $1 per item. It doesn’t seem like a lot but I’ve been buying supermarket brand name cereals, canned vegetables, peanut butter, milk and eggs, and these small amounts add up when I reach the checkout. And with the money I save, I’m able to buy a few organic versions of these foods too. Most taste just as good if not better than the brand names …so far I’ve only had one item I didn’t like and that was a box of tea. So resolution #1, check out a couple of supermarket brands on each shopping trip.

Shop in Bulk
Whether it’s at the supermarket or a co-op, bargains await you in the bulk bin section. You can buy as much or as little as you need, which means less waste. And you can find some of the best prices on dried organic foods in the bulk bin aisle.

Try Leftover Sundays
Last year, I decided to make Sunday leftover day at my house. It’s sort of half buffet, half Sunday brunch where I pull out all the foods we haven’t eaten during the week and set them out on the countertop. Main entrees get paired up with new side dishes and sandwiches take on a creative twist. It’s almost like getting one free meal a week, plus, you get a day off from cooking.

Pantry Meals
It’s like having a wardrobe full of clothes and thinking you don’t have anything to wear. Your pantry, fridge and freezer have items waiting to be paired up to create a meal and most of the time we don’t realize it. You can save money but cutting back on the amount of groceries you buy and instead rely on what you have on hand to create at least one supper per week. Good candidates-omelets, pasta, sandwich and soup combos.

Think Ahead
Here’s a trick I learned in one of my cooking classes. Plan your menus around ‘like foods’ and nothing gets wasted. For example, if you need half a cabbage for a coleslaw recipe, find another recipe that uses cabbage so you don’t…and yes, we all do it, have half a cabbage sitting in the fridge for weeks. You forget all about it and just end up tossing it in the garbage.

Be Flexible
Until food prices started to shoot upward, I was adamant about certain brands I bought. One example is Fleischmann’s Olive Oil spread. It used to be $1.69 for two tubs but the price has gradually increased by a $1. My thinking was if all the items I bought were going to increase that much, I could be spending another $50 on each trip to the store. Now whatever is on sale that week is my new item of choice. And so far, I haven’t purchased anything I don’t like and that isn’t comparable in taste of Fleishmann’s spread. And if Fleishmann’s brand does go on sale, I’ll stock up and put it in the freezer.

Get Back to Basics
I recently got back into the habit of making more things from scratch, with bread being one of them. Not regular bread we use for sandwiches, but fancy breads that were costing a couple more dollars at the store. And eating out less and cutting back on readymade foods, not only helps your waistline, but your wallet too.

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