Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ten Tips to Save Money on your Family Food Budget

For all of you who would like to save some money on your family's food budget. I got these tips from the Six O' Clock Scramble.  They're worth taking a look at.

1. Americans spend some 50% of food dollars on out-of-home meals, snacks and beverages. This budget item, therefore, is the first area that can be cut way back. Cooking at home is almost always cheaper than going out to dinner, ordering takeout, or buying prepared foods-and healthier! Plan for a week of meals so you don't waste food. With an online meal planning service (like The Six O'Clock Scramble) you can have your meal planning and grocery lists automatically generated so you also don't waste time.

2. Stretch your budget by making a meal at the end of the week out of ingredients you haven't finished. (Omelets, quesadillas, stir-fries and pasta sauces are flexible options.)

3. Pack up leftovers (sometimes it helps to do this before serving the meal so you don't overeat!). Use them for lunches the next day, or freeze half for a future dinner. That way you get 2 meals in 1.

4. Use up food in your refrigerator and freezer. Many people are sitting on hundreds of dollars of food that they've forgotten is in their freezer. Defrost and use something each week. Make a list of what's in there and label and date the containers.

5. Use less meat! Cooking with non-meat proteins like beans, tofuand eggs is veryeconomical and healthy. You can often substitute boneless chicken for fresh fish in recipes, or use less expensive frozen fish and shrimp.

6. Frozen vegetables are inexpensive, as well as healthy, delicious and convenient. Frozen at their peak of freshness they are a healthy and economic alternative to fresh produce.

7. One timely tip for spring is to grow your own fresh herbs. It only takes about 10 minutes to plant a little herb garden in your yard or on your window sill or deck, so you can use your own crop instead of buying expensive herbs at the market. You can buy little pots of fresh herbs at garden stores for $2 - $3 each, which you can repot and use all season long. (That is about the same amount you would pay at your grocery store for a small packet of fresh herbs that doesn't last more than a week.)

8. Buy in bulk packages-many stores have super deals especially onmeat, chicken and fish-you can break up the large packages into 1 or 2 lb. packages before freezing them. Also, buy large bags of shredded cheese and freeze 1 lb. portions of them, or buy blocks of cheese and grate it yourself. Buy large containers of items like yogurt, applesauce, raisins and chips, instead of single serving sizes, and divide them into reusable containers yourself.

9. Stock up on staples, such as olive oil, rice, canned beans, canned tomatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, pasta, pasta sauce, frozen chopped spinach, frozen peas, onions, lemons, limes, salsa, balsamic vinegar, and nuts.

10. Buy food when it's on sale, especially non-perishables.

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