Ten simple swaps to stretch your grocery buck


These days groceries seem to cost more every month. You may not be able to prevent price increases. But it’s still possible to save money, especially if you keep your eyes open and are willing to think flexibly. Here are ten quick examples to help get your creative juices flowing.

1. GO GREEN
Store leftovers in reusable plastic containers whenever possible instead of using plastic wrap or foil.

2. TASTE TEST
Try one generic-brand grocery item each week. They might not all work for you, but most likely you’ll find a couple good affordable substitutes a month.

3. SAY NO TO LIMP LETTUCE
Buy less lettuce and more cabbage. Cabbage lasts weeks in the fridge, is much better for you, and is hugely versatile. (Just one idea: Thai Pasta Salad)

4. STRETCH TACO MEAT
When making tacos, substitute lentils or rice for 1/4 to 1/3 of the beef and add a dab more taco seasoning to boost the flavor.  (Make your own taco seasoning for more savings.)

5. GO VEG
At least once a week serve rice and beans instead of a meal containing meat.  Rice and beans can absolutely be yummy!

6. DIY DRESSING
Making your own salad dressing is so easy that a 10-year-old can do it, and it’ll cost half what store-bought costs.

7.  WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Substitute tap water for other drinks one or two meals a day. Drink it instead of cola to save even more money. You might even lose some weight. Most of us get plenty of calories and nutrition from eating anyway.

8. THRIFTY SPICE
Instead of buying your spices in spendy lil’ jars, buy them in the bulk food department. (Other good options: the Mexican food aisle and the dollar store.) Your per-ounce savings will be huge.  Just be sure to label your spices with a bin number AND a name, since it’s often hard to tell what’s what once you get home.  Baby food jars or half-pint jam jars make great storage containers.

9.  CHEAP SNACKS
Instead of buying chips in individual-serving bags for kids’ lunches, try popping your own popcorn.  You can make kettle corn or cheesy chili popcorn at home in minutes.

10.  EASIEST PIZZA EVER
Instead of ordering take-out or buying frozen pizza, make your own french-bread pizza.  Slice a loaf of french bread length-wise. Lay the two half-loaves cut side up on a cookie sheet.  Spread with pizza sauce, cheese, pineapple and pepperoni. (Ranch dressing, chopped garlic, cubed chicken, and mozzarella cheese is also yummy.) Bake in a 450 degree oven til the cheese is browned and bubbly on top.  You’ll be eater faster than if you’d called Pizza Hut. For even greater money savings (but a bit more time investment), make your own pizza dough.

Those are just a few quick swaps that will save you money on food.  Now, wise readers– to make this post even better, will you share your best money-saving swaps in comments below?  To make it even more fun, I’m going to choose one commenter to win a copy of my book Family Feasts for $75 a Week.

~~~~~
You may also be interested in reading about the $20 experiment we did to help prepare our teens to shop for themselves someday.

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{ 64 Comments }

  1. I now buy rice 25lbs at a time…rather than in the small 1-2 lb bags…we go through it quickly and it is a fraction of the cost per pound!

  2. We buy big jars of yeast at Costco at a fraction of the grocery store prices. They store fantastically and have never gone “bad” since we make almost all our meals from scratch. With the amount of baking in my house, we go through yeast at a surprisingly rapid rate.

    • We also buy Costco yeast and keep it in the freezer so it will stay fresh (tho we also go thru it in quantity- maybe that step isn’t even needed!)

    • Sam’s Club also has it in 1# double packs. So much less expensive than bying packets of yeast. Just use 2 1/4 tsp in place of a packet of yeast.

  3. Give up boxed cereal! Whip up a double or triple batch of Saturday pancakes to freeze for later, or give yogurt parfaits and smoothies a go. Homemade quick breads or muffins are far more nutritious when you can control the ingredients, and oatmeal is cheap and so versitile. I can’t believe how expensive just one box of cereal is WITH coupons! We jumped off the cereal wagon at the begining of summer and have experimented with all sorts of alternatives. If you still need that cold cereal in the morning try homemade granola. So yummy, and so inexpensive to make.

  4. We eat a lot of yogurt, so I started making my own. It’s so easy and doesn’t take much time. Plus it doesn’t have additives and you can flavor it any way you want. You heat a gallon of milk to 120 degrees and add a cup of yogurt with live cultures (after your first batch just save some yogurt from the previous batch). Stir well and pour the milk mixture into mason jars and put on the lid. Then, place the jars in the oven with the light on for 12-24 hours. The light is the perfect amount of heat to culture the yogurt. Then, let it chill in the fridge and it’s ready.

  5. We dont care for ground chicken or ground pork but i mix it with ground beef to strech the beef. This summer i found ground pork for. 99 a lb!!! Didnt exactly fill my freezer but i bought quite a bit. Beef is so expensive. Also after years- i finally gave up SODA. (know u said that already under #7 but i am feeling so good about it!))

  6. I agree with Kristen – make homemade granola! It’s so easy and you can control the sugar and oil too. I use it for breakfast, in fruit parfaits and as a topping on fruit crisps when I’m in a hurry. In the summertime when fresh fruit is plentiful, make fruit syrups that can be used on pancakes and waffles during the winter. It’s so much cheaper than buying syrup. Freezing, canning and dehydrating also save summer fruits for us to use later. I always love your ideas, Mary! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Put the kids to bed and then go shopping… Often I’ll find rotisserie chicken and other things marked down at the end of the day. (Plus, I don’t have little ones asking me for extra things that aren’t on the list!)

  8. My newest mantra is, “We are not throwing away perfectly good food just so we can have different food.” Eat those leftovers!!

  9. Don’t buy those boxed packages of pasta or rice with flavorings. It doesn’t take much more time to cook up your own. Cook a little onion in some oil, add the rice and stir to coat and cook a few more minutes, then add broth instead of water (or half of each) and cook your regular way (stovetop or rice cooker). That’s a good basic pilaf and you can add more from there.

    (PS: I don’t need your book. I already have a copy and recommend it to others. Just wanted to share the rice idea.)

    • Good point. I make my own Mexican rice now. It’s cheaper, I can make the amount I want (I often will do a double batch and freeze some for another meal), and you skip all of that awful sodium in those rice/pasta boxes.

  10. Buy chicken in large packs, pound out the chicken breasts to get more per person or butterfly them.
    Make your own broth after making a whole chicken in the slow cooker.

    I don’t need the book either, I have my own copy and I love it!

  11. You mentioned swapping out lentils or rice for part of the taco meat. I have swapped out shredded potatoes that get cooked along with the beef and you don’t know the difference. An older mom taught it to me.

  12. I buy in bulk when I see a sale. For example, when pasta goes on sale, I buy 10, which should last us to the next sale. That way, I don’t often pay full price.

  13. If your city has ethnic grocery stores, take advantage of them! Our city of 70,000 has several Asian grocery stores and an Indian grocery store — that’s where I buy bulk sizes of curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, coriander, jasmine/basmati rice and more. It’s dramatically less expensive to buy spices and rice this way.

    • Also…many of the ethnic stores in the city sell fruits and vegetables for much less than the chain grocery stores. It’s so important to eat our fruits and veggies, but you don’t typically find coupons for produce.

  14. Grated zucchini for 1/3 of ground meat – actually produces a better texture and is very tasty. Plus it uses up the zucchini.

    For large families, buy bulk quantities for fresh eating – rather than just for preserving. We grow our own, but we live high up and the tomatoes come late. For a month before I buy tomatoes in 1/2 bushel quantities – we can eat a box in a week (family of 7, varies since we foster). A bushel of sweet corn is 52 ears – we can eat 18 at a meal, so that’s two meals plus corn pudding and corn chowder for half the price so much corn would cost elsewhere. Whatever doesn’t get eaten gets preserved – frozen, dehydrated, canned – but it is smaller quantities so never overwhelming.

    Come fall, find a spot in your home or garage that doesn’t freeze (styrofoam coolers help here if it is marginal) but stays cold and buy your cabbage, potatoes, onions and carrots in bulk – 50lbs of potatoes for $12 is way better than anything at the grocery store. We also order our winter citrus that way from the grocer – much, much cheaper.

    Definitely make granola (we love whole flax seeds in ours for the crunch), yogurt, and most of all BREAD!!! So easy, so much savings.

    Sharon

  15. Thanks for all of your tips Mary! We have also recently given up boxed cereal. I think I’m saving about $30 a month . . . but we are also saving on milk! We went from 6 gallons a week to 2 1/2. We made some other changes as well, so that might not all be attributed to the cereal but I think it was most of it.

    I would LOVE your book!

  16. Lots of great ideas! I’ve been wondering how to cut down our boxed cereal costs, and am now pondering which of those ideas my family might take to.
    We save a lot by making our own yoghurt. I put the warm yoghurt in a cooler box stuffed with old cushions to set for 6-8 hours, before chilling it, rather than in the oven, so it isn’t stopping the oven being used.
    We also make our own bread, which is much cheaper and tastier than bought bread. Plus making our own pizza dough and tortillas, is fun for the kids and gives us the treat of pizza without and the expense. It all does take time though.
    Growing our own herbs is also a whole lot fresher and cheaper than buying them.

  17. Mary,
    To be honest, I don’t like reading sponsored posts. It feels like I was invited over to a friend’s house for dinner and then received an unwanted Amway presentation. 🙂 That being said, I do like the money-saving ideas you share. We’ve implemented many of them over the past few years.

    • Thanks for weighing in. I hear you. Am kinda walking a tightrope trying to get some medical bills paid off but also very much wanting to keep readers happy. I spoke yesterday with my ad rep about those exact concerns and appreciate you sharing your feelings.

  18. I’ve found that if I buy juice on sale I can make jelly at home cheaper than I can buy it in the store.

  19. We eat mostly oatmeal for breakfast, rather than expensive boxes of cereal. Oats can be bought in bulk at many stores and they stretch a lot farther than a box of cereal does. Instead of cooking it, I sometimes make overnight refrigerated oatmeal, which is very refreshing in the hot summer months.

  20. My favorites are oldies but goodies!

    Don’t go to the store hungry (includes little shoppers too) and have a list and STICK to the list!!! 🙂

  21. 1. Menu plan, but be prepared to switch for bargins. (if i find cheap hamburger we may have tacos instead of chicken)
    2. Eat soup, cheap and easy.
    3. Use a crockpot for a night ‘off’ cooking.
    4. Teach your children to eat plain foods. My daughter is thrilled with a big bowl of plain popcorn. She thinks cheerios are a treat.
    5. Use a calculator at the store. After a $240 trip to the store hubby and I started keeping track. I can really see how much my yoplait habit is costing us!

  22. Most of mine have been stated. But I reiterate Homemade anything!! I don’t buy any snacks, if they need something other than a fruit or veggie, they must make it. Be it popcorn or homemade granola bars, or cookies. Cheaper & healthier, and you need to really want it to take the time to make it.

  23. I stopped buying OJ (which we only drank at breakfast) and went from 2 boxes of cereal a week to 2 boxes a month. We now eat oatmeal, pancakes, waffles (often from the freezer), breakfast cake, etc….. All are cheap to make and healthier than processed cereal. We already eat lots of fruit so we don’t miss the OJ and get more fiber from the fruit.

  24. I do the usual stuff. My big one is soft drinks. My husband works outside so he can drink 2-2liter bottles a day. I buy generic almost always. I try to plan my meals around sales and always carry my coupons everywhere.
    Linda

  25. To stretch our food budget we:
    1. eat soup..a lot (great way to use up little bits of lots of things)
    2. make our own bread
    3. make our own yogurt (using a heating pad)
    4. have all but given up boxed cereal
    5. participate in Bountiful Baskets and get most of our produce that way
    6. rarely eat out and send a packed lunch with my husband for work
    7. try to keep the number of visits to stores as low as possible

    I really enjoy your blog and am inspired by it. I’ve talked with my kids about your $20 grocery & cooking challenge with your teens and that has yielded lots of thoughtful conversation at our house.

  26. We don’t eat cereal often (only when I find the organic kind at our scratch/dent store super cheap) but when we do I make a jar of half milk, (we use whole) half water to poor on our cereal. It tastes just the same and we use way less milk. (None of the kids can tell a difference!)

  27. Kate in NY says:

    This summer, I read an interesting book called “Bringing up Bebe,” by Pamela Druckerman – a memoir of an American woman raising her children in Paris. I was intrigued by her discussion of how the French approach the issue of snacking with their children. Rather than letting their kids graze all day long on starchy, nutritionally bereft snacks like goldfish and chips, they generally have one planned snack per day – a “gouter,” at 4 0’Clock. I decided to institute our own family “gouter,” and I totally stopped buying processed snacks at the grocery store. No cookies, chips, crackers, candy, chocolate. None of it. It’s not that I bought so much of that kind of thing before, but I always had an eye out for “good deals” on snacky foods the kids like. Now I buy only fruit for snacking – though I do make up a more substantial snack several times a week – I’ll bake cookies or something of that nature. It’s amazing how much money I am savings this way. The kids often look in the cupboards and despair a bit – no granola bars or frozen egg rolls or Trader Joe’s oreos. But I feel they are eating more at mealtimes, when I have more control over the amount of veggies and whole foods they are consuming – and shopping is much easier, as I am thinking mostly in terms of actual meals – not snacks. I would say I am saving about $20 or more a week this way. Not an enormous amount, I guess – but it’s nice anyway!

    • Kate– That’s pretty much what I do, and notice, also. I think avoiding the hyper-palatable ‘snack’ food and just offering simple things in between encourages healthier eating habits and better mealtime eating.

  28. Stonalino says:

    Okay, I have to admit this. I’m a grown woman, and I’m not into cabbage.

    I’m not sure why, but can you suggest any preparations/recipes that would get me more into it?

    I’m so guilty of the wilty lettuce in the crisper bin of my fridge, and I’d love to be a cabbage gal, but I need to figure out how.

    Thanks, collective wisdom of so many other moms! 🙂

    • Stonalina,
      We like it cut VERY thin as cole slaw, either with ranch dressing or Asian vinaigrette. I also toss a handful or two into most of the soups and stir-fries that I make. If you don’t love it raw (maybe it tastes too strong for you?) try sauteeing very thin-sliced cabbage in a bit of butter until limp and tender along with finely chopped green or white onion. Add a dab of salt (and turmeric if you want it Ethiopian-style) and enjoy.

      • Stonalino says:

        Thank you Mary!

        I will be a big girl and purchase some on my next grocery trip, and hopefully your tips/tricks will help me.

        It seems that slicing it very thin is the trick!

  29. Here are some ways we save money with food: I make our own bread (then use any leftovers to make croutons), pancakes and waffles (which freeze well, too), baked oatmeal, home made granola, taco seasoning mix, smoothies, desserts, hamburger buns, pizza dough…

    Buying marked-down bread is wonderful because even if you don’t want to use it in sandwiches, you can use it to make bread pudding, croutons, and breakfast bakes.

    I would love to win your book! I am almost done reading your other one and have gleaned so much wisdom from it. I bought it after we were asked (for the second time) to consider bringing in more children into our home. We currently have two girls who we are fostering; one will be adopted next Tuesday–yahoo! (perhaps I can share more of my story in an email later, but we are prayerfully considering adding more children to the mix.:)

  30. Bake your own bread (I use a bread machine). A whole wheat/oat bread could cost $4/loaf at the store, but maybe about 0.50- 0.75 to bake at home. Plus you can ditch all the preservatives and artificial junk!

    If you need a bread machine, ask your friends or check garage sales. There’s almost always someone who has one but doesn’t use it and would be willing to part with it for $10. You’ll recoup your cost in just 3 loaves of bread!

  31. I love the pizza idea!

  32. Something we’ve done is try to find the “sweet spot” of how big a batch of food we cook at mealtime. Too much and we’ve got too many leftovers that go bad before they get eaten. Too little and we have no leftovers which is a bummer!

    • My husband isn’t good at eating leftovers, and especially not the day after we ate it the first time, so I stick them in the freezer for a later date! I learnt that after I got sick of things going off in the fridge

  33. I don’t mind the occasional sponsored post Mary- there’s your great content staright after it.
    Thankyou for your tips. I like the limited/no snacking idea. I really dislike it when the children are full before dinnertime, then hungry again at bedtime
    Rebecca x

  34. We *never* buy meat full price. Every day, there is a section with 30% off meat that will expire soon….we buy what we need there, and plan our menus around it…

    Also, I have recently started doubling the amount of spaghetti sauce I make at a time, *without* doubling the meat part – so then 1lb of ground beef goes twice as far.

    About the ground beef – my husband buys the large club packs, and uses a kitchen scale to measure it into precise 1 lb packages, and then freezes them. Ever noticed that regular sized packages always have more than 1lb? We save money this way, for sure.

    And for juice – when we do have juice (at breakfast only, or in the afternoon on particularly hot day), we always water it down to make it stretch farther (and to get less sugar intake). I can no longer drink juice straight up – tastes like drinking concentrate!

  35. Having gone from 3 incomes to just 1 this summer with a family of 5, I have learned on the fly how to make my grocery $ go farther. The first thing i started doing was shopping at Aldi instead of my regular store. While they don’t always have my “favorite” brands, most of their products are just as good as name brand. We have also started eating salad at dinner every night. We fill up on raw, fresh veggies and eat less meat. When I cook tacos now, I add a can of refried beans (haven’t gotten to the point of making my own yet!)to the meat mix and reduced the amount of meat to just 1 pound instead of 1 1/2 pounds. Like many others above, we switched to drinking more water instead of soda and koolaid.

  36. I buy almost all of our meat when it is “Manager Special” normally marked down to half price. I will buy whatever is marked down and the plan meals from that. There is a grocery store on the same road as our church so whenever I am at church, which is a lot, I make a point to pop in. To days ago I got boneless grain fed pork chops for $2.29, 3 packs were $8 and gave me 12 chops. Quck saute in a little EVOO and then glazed with homemade cinnamon jam made from peaches that were seconds. Yummy!

    Tuesday Aldis had baby carrots for 59¢ a lb. which made them cheaper that regular carrots. I bought 20 bags and will pressure can them tomorrow in my Freecycled jars. I also have been buying a case of canned corn(12 cans) when I go to Aldis because the price has not risen yet. My one teenage son loves corn so I am buying now in anticipation of price increases due to the drought.

    I also buy food at places other than the grocery store. Milk here is $3.99/ gallon. The other week Walgreens had milk for $2.79 so I bought a few gallons. I also hit the clearance section at Big Lots and picked up coffee for $2.50/12 oz.

  37. Sherry Blair says:

    Buying in bulk the items we use–pinto beans and rice–at Costco. Making granola from scratch instead of buying boxed cereal. Ironically I have started replacing the lettuce with cabbage,too. Also replaced lettuce with baby spinach for salads and other items. I love to make fried rice in bulk and put either a cole slaw mix (bagged from Fred Meyer is only .99 and has carrots in it)or shredd cabbage and carrots myself . A little sesame oil, chicken broth and soy sauce in the pan with it and it makes a wonderful filling for potstickers or egg rolls if I am so inclined, but adds a wonderful texture and flavor to the fried rice. I also bake some of our own bread using my KitchenAid mixer to do most of the work, altho I enjoy kneading it myself when I have time; I also buy my yeast at Costco and store in freezer.

  38. Tuesday is leftover day in our house—no matter what. Along with a salad this is perfect for dinner. Use all the almost to the due date vegetables in a soup, on pizza, skewered or in a soft-shelled taco.
    Not all items bought in a grocery store are food so to stretch your money on those items: Use half of the laundry detegent called for.
    Another non-food tip, unplug all appliances and electronics when not in use. Unplug them or connect to a power surge cord that can be shut off when not in use. Phantom power adds lots to an electric bill.

  39. These are all great tips, and I have done them in the past, but thought I’d just offer a different perspective as well:
    With homemade foods the tradeoff is time and energy for savings and often better nutrition/less preservatives/etc, but with my rotating work assignments there are weeks when I am literally only home at all for 8 hours a night, and most of those are for sleeping. I am single, so no other people around with more time to help with meal prep or shopping. Cooking goes right out the window, and spending time on detailed meal-planning is out. When I’m in one of those periods I save money and sanity by keeping eggs on hand for 3 minute dinners (toss in some chopped garlic for flavor). I buy frozen bean burritos in bulk so I have something quick and easy to throw in tupperware for lunch on the way out the door. $2 frozen microwavable vegetable mix with sauce included is another good dinner (and some vegetables actually retain more nutrients via quick freezing than when eaten fresh after a week of transport time to the store). Pasta with basil pesto from powdered mix, frozen peas, and water chestnuts is a 10 minute favorite.

  40. In the summertime, our kids love popscicles. The store-bought variety are expensive and generally unhealthy, so we make our own!

    I have an old Tupperware popscicle tray from my mom (I remember using it when we were growing up!) and we freeze juice, yogurt, and pureed fruit in it.

    While this is not food-specific, we also save money by using cloth napkins and “clean-up towels” in place of their disposable counterparts, and by making our own inexpensive cleaning supplies.

    Thanks for the great ideas! 🙂

  41. I think I do practically everything I’ve read here, though I guess I didn’t read through ALL the comments. 🙂 One really basic but important thing is to use your freezer to your advantage. If you make a huge pot of soup and everyone is sick of it, freeze it for another day. If you buy a lot of peppers on sale, dice them up and freeze. Or buy a big can of tomato sauce, freeze it in ice cube trays or small containers and take out tomato sauce cubes when you need to add it to soup. And speaking of soup, keep a container handy in the freezer that you can toss bits of leftovers into–that last spoonful of veggies or broth from the roast or half a baked potato–and then dice, puree, or simply throw into your next pot of soup. Great way to use the things you might otherwise throw away.

    Another thing that has helped me to save a lot of money is to organize my shopping. I have a master list of all the things that I keep on hand which is organized according to the section of the store it’s found in. It’s just one page of paper, so not complicated, but has all my basic cold food, all the canned things I buy, all the frozen food, toiletries, etc. Once a month, I go through my pantry, frig, and freezer, and underline everything that is needed, then buy a month’s worth. We don’t live close to an inexpensive store, so this has made a huge difference. Obviously, the fresh produce and milk require a local run in between, and there are occasional emergency buys, but saving the bulk of my shopping for a big once-a-month trip has simplified and saved a bundle!

  42. Also, USE your Tupperware! I am amazed at how many people have great storage containers that just sit in their cabinets while their veggies wilt. You mentioned lettuce–I can easily keep lettuce for a couple weeks if I put it in the proper container. i usually buy lettuce four heads at a time. If I put a limp-looking head into the Tupperware lettuce keeper (take the core out first!) it will crisp up beautifully.

  43. Great ideas! Instead of using lentils or rice to stretch taco meat I use black beans. I do about 50% beans, 50% meat, making it last twice as long. Sometimes I chop up a potato and cook that with it too, got that idea from a favorite restraunt. Love your book! It’s one of my all-time favorite cook books!

  44. Pardon my ignorance, but what’s granola? Sounds useful!

  45. Kim in az says:

    We tweak your hint for easy pizza above. I make homemade French bread a few times a month and serve as a side at dinner – with pasta or soup, for example. Since I already have all the ingredients out, I double the recipe. This makes 4 large loaves with my current recipe. One hot from the oven to rat, one a side for dinner. One becomes French bread pizza for the next days lunch. The last one gets sliced for French toast the third day. An easy way to make it homemade and make it stretch for more than one meal.

  46. Yup, homemade rather than store-bought is nearly always cheaper. Usually tastes better, too. It does usually take more time, though, which is not always easy to find. Hello, my freezer friend! Buying and cooking in bulk has made a difference to me. “real” rice, especially long grain/brown, tastes so much better than the quick-cook stuff. The kid recently commented how delicious the rice was all by itself, and I pointed out that was why I cooked it in big portions then divided it up and froze it. I don’t always have an hour for rice to cook, but it only takes 2-3 to thaw and heat from the freezer. The pennies it costs to do that are better than the cost of frozen rice from the frozen veggie section that cost $2/bag. The boil-in-bag stuff is pretty tasteless and lacks most nutrition and is more costly as well. So, better for me and tastes better and just took time once to cook up the stockpot-full.

    I do that for full recipes, too. This probably works better with the smaller family, since we have the freezer space, but double or triple a recipe. Portion a meal’s worth into a freezable container and keep it for a night when I need an instant meal. It reheats in the microwave or oven while I’m feeding the pets and then dinner’s ready. I guess that is more a general budgeting suggestion, not actual grocery dollars.

    Also, when using meat, pick recipes that have the meat diced or chopped or shredded rather than a hunk of meat. A 4oz patty does not look like much, but 3oz chopped and distributed through the meal seems like a bunch since you still have meat in every bite. If you’re grilling the meat, then slice/dice before serving. Even just sliced spreads it out a little more and you visually see more than is really there, making you think you are getting more than you are. It’s probably still more than you need for a single serving, even though your taste buds might disagree if whatever you made turned out well. 🙂

    We don’t have Aldi’s and other discount places like that, but we do have a discount bakery store for bread that is not bad but has been replaced on the shelves with fresher stuff. Even the better quality, no corn syrup, whole grain bread can be gotten for $1/loaf. Once a month or so, I’ll get a loaf there. It’s not as good as homemade, but we don’t eat a lot of bread so I don’t worry about it. I just bought some tortillas there and am going to try making and freezing my own breakfast burritos to see how that works out. I think those might have been $0.60/pkg.

  47. We buy in bulk. I cook what I want and then freeze or store for later.

  48. Menu planning. I also do one big bulk buy about every 4-6 weeks and then pick up odds and ends (like milk) as needed.

    I freeze whatever I don’t use. For instance, I’ll open a big can of olives for the pizza, but only use a small portion. Free the rest and use as needed.

    Send the kids to granny’s. (just kidding)

    Instead of frying up sausage patties and everyone gets a piece or two or three, I fry it up as ground sausage, then freeze. When making waffles/pancakes, I just add some to the batter. You still get that wonderful piece of sausage w/each bite.

  49. Don’t forget that beans and rice aren’t the only option when going vegetarian/less meat. Some families really don’t like beans very well. Two good, inexpensive options are:
    -Eggs (on large dinner salads, breakfast for supper, egg sandwich, etc.)
    -Canned tuna (on sandwiches, in pasta salads, creamed tuna over rice, etc.)

    These even go well in lunch boxes. Sometimes, I pack a boiled egg, a few slices of cheese, crackers/cookie, and fruit in my 6 year old’s lunch. Much cheaper and healthier than school lunch!

  50. Argyllmac says:

    Rolled oats are a wonderful way to stretch ground meats. I add one cup per pound of ground meat. You bulk up your tacos, sloppy joes, meat loaf, meatballs, etc. with filling affordable fiber. Whe I want quick pizza in a hurry but forgot to make yeast dough that morning, I whip up homemade biscuit dough. Roll it thin, slap it on a cookie sheet, and bake at 400 for 6 min. Then throw on toppings and cook 6-8 more min. Not as quick as your French bread pizza, but still takes less time and money than delivery. For quick and fun meals, nachos save the day. Store bought tortilla chips are cheap and relatively additive free. Dice up the leftover meats, bean, or lentils, grate up the mixed bits and pieces of cheese in the fridge, stick under the broiler for a few minutes and finish off with shredded cabbage, homemade pico de gallo and plain yogurt. Super yummy on movie or game night.