If you’re having trouble keeping track of where all your money goes, chances are good that you’re eating out and wasting a lot of money in the grocery store. You can save a lot of money by learning how to cook at home properly. First we’ll look at general tips that apply pretty much all the time and in any situation…
Take Advantage of Weekly Specials
If you’re like me, you’re quick to throw out pretty much any kind of flyer, booklet or newspaper you get in the mail (unless of course, it’s something you subscribe to). Instead, you should look through each one because they often have some great grocery discounts in them. Look for the weekly specials and coupons in your area and plan your weekly menu around what’s on sale.
Support Local Farmers and Agriculture
You can often time find fresh produce at your local farmer’s market for much less than what you’ll pay at the grocery store. That’s because it’s coming straight from the supplier. Not only can you save a lot of money this way, but you also are getting fresher (healthier) fruits and veggies, you’re supporting your local economy and you get to try new things that you may have never been tempted to try before. Is asparagus in season? Great, buy some! If you have no idea how to prepare it, you can find plenty of guidance online.
Buy Groceries in Bulk
This is easily the choice for canned goods and things that can last for a long time. Don’t stop there, though. If chicken is on sale you can easily put it in the deep freezer and it’ll stay good for a decent amount of time. During the holidays is a great time to do this. There are always huge sales on holiday dinner staples like Turkeys, yams, etc… If turkeys are on sale for a great deal around Thanksgiving, buy two of them and save the other one for Christmas.
Just remember that even frozen food won’t last forever, so don’t buy more than you’ll use in a month or two. Nuts are often on sale during the holidays, but don’t go crazy. They typically only last a month or two.
Know what you have on hand what you need. When you put leftover broccoli in the fridge, make sure it’s clearly labeled so you know you still have some. If you have a lot of hamburger that’s in the freezer, it should all marked too. Keeping things tidy, organized and easy to identify makes it easy to take inventory and know what you need to buy for your menu. It’s also easier to plan your weekly meals around foods that you already have (so it doesn’t go to waste… which wastes your money).
Before you ever get your shoes and start out the door, you should have a well-planned menu and list ready to take with you. If not, you are almost certainly going to buy things you don’t need and worse… forget other things. That really comes into play if you were taking advantage of a 3-day sale only to find you didn’t grab one of the items on sale that you meant to grab.
Pay in Cash
Yep. It’s been proven (A 2008 study featured in the Journal of Experimental Psychology) that if you use a credit card you’re going to spend more. Just the simple fact that you never have cash in hand and hand it over to someone actually plays a subconscious role in your spending. If possible, take the cash (your budget) out of an ATM on your way to the store and spend only that.
“Cook at Home” Even When Traveling
Planning a weekend at the beach? Ask the hotel if they have grills available. Many hotels, camping areas and other accommodations will have grills there that you can use. Combine that with the (very good) chance your room will have a fridge and a sink and voila. You can grill up some delicious homemade food even when you aren’t at home… and you can bet that it’ll be much cheaper than eating at that tourist-filled restaurant or using room service.
Just because you’re only cooking for two doesn’t mean you’re limited to the small frozen meals. You can still cook up a family-sized batch of spaghetti with a full pound of hamburger. If you put it in an air-tight container and freeze it, it’ll easily be good to pull out and heat up next week (saving you time, too!).
When you cook a meal and have leftover veggies, store them in a cup in the freezer. Once you have several cups of leftover veggies saved, take them out and use them to make delicious soup! There are tons of ways to create homemade soup. Use your imagination or look online, as there are plenty of creative ideas that people share.
When you have leftover chicken, shred it and put it in a freezer bag. Later you can take it out, add some veggies, cheese and sour cream to wrap it up in a yummy wrap for lunch or dinner. This is also a great addition to eggs and cheese – throw in your meat with eggs and cheese for your very own homemade breakfast burrito.