6 Hacks to Make Your Food Budget Last
When it comes to food, it’s hard to stay on a food budget. Between paydays, there’s almost always a point in which a person runs out of food or starts to create “struggle meals”. Struggle meals are the weird meals that come out of the cupboard just before payday; the meals that consist of ramen noodles, freezer burnt sausages, and the last piece of bread. How do we avoid struggle meals? Well, here are 6 smart hacks to make the week’s food budget stretch!
1. Check Your Food Budget And Utilize Leftovers
Leftovers are the superheroes that save dinner time and time again. If you make grilled chicken one night and there is extra, make sure you pack it away in an air tight container in the fridge. Then, you can use the remaining chicken a night or two later in another dish. You can do this with almost anything left over, from mashed potatoes, which you can make into a casserole or shepherd’s pie, to spaghetti sauce, which can be frozen and used for another spaghetti night later down the line and can help your food budget last. When you keep leftovers to use for another time, make sure you store them properly to avoid spoilage and preserve flavor.
2. Buy in Bulk
Every household has certain grocery items that they’re always using. When you notice that you use a lot of something, stock up on it! Don’t just buy it from anywhere or in any size though, try to buy it in bulk. For example, frozen vegetables can be purchased in small packages or larger ones. When you have a budget, it’s tempting to just buy the cheaper, and smaller, package, but in the long run, buying a large package will pay off.
Buying the bigger sizes is known as “buying in bulk”, or buying more than you need so you can stock up on the item. You could even go a step further and pick up a few large packages at one time. Another thing to consider when you go to buy small packages of something, is how much a small package costs. More often then not, a small package will cost you more per ounce or measurable unit. The actual price tag may be less expensive for the smaller package but the cost per serving will be higher as compared to buying a larger package or quantity.
3. Try Dried
Dried food lasts longer without being eaten than fresh food does. Fresh food like produce, meat, and dairy can all go bad if you don’t use them right away, and when they do, you end up wasting the money that you spent on them. To combat this, try buying dried foods when you can. Buy dried fruit, beans, and pasta. Buying dried beans is also a good option to get protein without the cost of buying fresh meat that may or may not go bad before you get to cook and eat it. Try dried and you will find your food budget seems reasonable at the end of the month.
4. Buy Canned
If you don’t want to buy dried fruit and vegetables, you could always try buying canned produce. Fruit and veggies that are preserved in cans last a long time, often up to 3 years! Canned produce can taste just as good as fresh produce does, and it can be used in a variety of different ways. Many recipes call for canned produce for dinners, desserts, and baking. An added bonus of canned fruit is that it regularly goes on sale, so when it does, stock up on a few cans of the staples like corn and tomatoes. Meat can also be bought in the can. Turkey, chicken, and fish that are canned last longer than fresh meat does, as well.
5. Avoid and Embrace the Bruises
Fruit and vegetables are prone to bruising when they’re too ripe, or have been handled by excited children! If your produce gets a nasty bruise or two, don’t throw it away. Instead, keep this healthy food and just cut around the areas with bruises or blemishes. The rest of the item can still be used and poses no health risk. In the case of bananas, put your bruised and over ripe ones in the freezer and save them to make banana bread and muffins. Bruised bananas are perfect for these treats as they get mashed before baking anyways.
6. Buy Store Brand
There’s a popular misconception that store brand food is less tasty and nutritious. However, store brand foods can be just as good as the expensive name brand options. Of course, there are the odd exceptions, and each person’s unique taste differs so what tastes the same for one person may not be good for the other. For the most part though there isn’t much of a difference. If you buy a store brand product and don’t like it, try to improve it by adding spices or incorporating it with other foods, and help your food budget last.
It doesn’t seem like much of a life-changing list, but the list you’ve just read will help you save money and have some leftover from your food budget to use on other things. Dessert and a movie, perhaps?