There are some simple things that every family can do in order to save money on their grocery bill. Here are some tips to get you started-
· Look in your fridge-often! Each month, the average family throws away a great deal of food that was bought but not eaten. One of the biggest ways to start saving money is by becoming familiar with what is in your fridge. Just open the fridge door and check the ‘use by’ dates on what’s inside, and you can begin saving your pennies. How often do you find that the ‘use by’ date on food that has been and gone and you end up throwing it away? Meat, fish and ready-made meals are often the most expensive things we buy, so it helps to get into the habit of regularly checking the dates on perishable items in your fridge. You can always move them into the freezer if you do not think you will have time to eat them or cook them before the expiration date. Dairy products can also be forgotten at the back of the fridge. Keep in mind that you can grate odd bits of cheese and mix it with breadcrumbs for a savory topping or stir into mashed potatoes. Be sure to use up your yogurts in fruit smoothies or as delicious toppings on breakfast cereals.
· Do not forget to use your freezer. Right when you get home with your shopping, it is a good idea to transfer as much as you can straight into the freezer. If you have large amounts of chicken pieces or fish, you should divide them up and freeze individual portions. This way you can buy in bulk and to take advantage of sales right when they happen.
· Keep a well-stocked pantry. It is important to try and keep your cupboards and freezer well-stocked with a variety of canned, dried and frozen goods that you know your family loves to eat. Canned and frozen vegetables, meat and fish and dried fruit, nuts, pasta & noodles, rice & grains, are all essentials with a long shelf life which means that you will always have the ingredients standing by to pull together a delicious meal or to jazz up your leftovers. This can help lower your food bill significantly since you will not have to run to the store to pick up that one item and come home with an additional five things you really did not need. The trick to this is to replace items once you have used them up. It also helps to keep a note stuck on the inside of a cupboard door and scribble down items as soon as you have finished them and check it when you write your shopping list.
· Do not underestimate leftovers. While some people view leftovers as boring, a little creativity is all you need to create whole new meals from leftovers. This can be a way to really ease the strain on your food budget. Keep in mind that any spare fresh tomatoes could be added to some canned ones to make a great topping for pizza. Rice can turn leftover chicken and wrinkly peppers into a delicious summer salad.
· Take time to plan. Planning your meals is one of the most effective ways you can cut waste and lessen your food bill. Simply start by checking your fridge, freezer and cupboards, and before you go shopping, write a list, so you are not shopping for things you already have. You can get your kids to help and to suggest what meals they would like to have that week. After doing all of this then you can work out a weekly meal plan.