During times of economic turmoil, many people start taking another look at their budgets to see where they can save money. One of the first places people look to is the typically high grocery bills. Being realistic about the amount of money that you are spending that actually gets wasted is the first step to getting your spending under control. This step-by-step will help you bring into perspective how to spend $100 or less on groceries and still provide your family healthy and nutritious meals.
Step One – Work out Your Budget
Using a budgeting worksheet, find out the actual monetary values for areas of your life that you can afford. You will probably be very surprised at the actual amount you can afford versus what you typically spend per month. This can also help you understand the effects of your spending and where you need to straighten up. Try using one of these free budget sheets from this site: http://www.christianpf.com/free-printable-budgeting-worksheets/
Step Two – Look for Deals
Keep your usual Friday / Saturday delivery of the local grocery flyers and go through them to find the best deals and least expensive cuts of meat to make up your week’s worth of meals. The best idea is to make larger dinners to use as leftovers for lunch the next day. You may have to buy a bit more of the main ingredients but it will result in lower bills when you don’t have to buy such a variety to substitute for lunch. Some of the less expensive ingredients can also come from bulk purchases or ethnic stores and are often the most nutritious such as beans, rice, and cereals.
Step Three – Plan Your Meals
The most expensive part of grocery shopping is when purchasing meat. Choose less expensive cuts and use a slow cooker to really make them tender or buy the already frozen prepackaged choices. Also, limit the amount of meat that you serve throughout the week. Try having three non-meat days – using different types of beans and legumes as your protein source, blocks of tofu for stir-fry’s, or canned fish such as tuna or salmon for patties or casseroles.
Step Four – Do It Yourself
Menu staples like bread and various desserts are cheaper to make yourself. Bread is simply flour, yeast, salt, and water. Mix your own ingredients for a delicious way to meet your budget. Make your own custards with milk and eggs for desserts. Create your own recipes to help you stretch your dollars.
Step Five – Make Good Choices
Here’s an example of meals and their costs to help you plan for your family.
French toast with cinnamon, sugar and fruit [Ingredients: 4 slices of bread, 2 eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar, any available fruit]
Oatmeal with fruit topping [Ingredients: oats, milk, any available fruit]
Egg omelet [Ingredients: 2 – 3 eggs, milk, variety of chopped vegetables]
Fish patties with homemade buns [Ingredients: 2 cans of salmon or tuna, one egg, breadcrumbs, shredded carrot, spices to taste and homemade bread]
Vegetarian Mixed Bean Chili [Ingredients: 2 – 3 cans of mixed beans, one can crushed tomatoes, variety of chopped vegetables, spices to taste]
Curried lentils on spinach [Ingredients: Lentils, tomatoes, onion, garlic, curry powder, spinach]
Keeping on a budget requires you to stick to your lists, shop where the sales are, and clip coupons when necessary. When you do this it will mean more money in your pocket for other things and will ultimately give you a feeling of accomplishment when you keep your grocery spending under budget.