So you’ve decided to commit to the kitchen…preparing food yourself instead of ordering out is a big step towards the betterment of your health. You control the fat, salt and sugar content of your foods, and this is much healthier than letting a restaurant do it for you.
How do you do it without breaking the bank? Here are some tips for saving money at the grocery store:
• Shop for those lean cuts of meat with a discerning eye. - Meat typically gets marked down on the third and fourth days following the packing date. By law, the packing date is printed clearly on all packages, so if you see a nice pork tenderloin that’s on day two, there’s a good chance the meat man will mark it down tomorrow in an effort to sell it. Just make sure when you’re buying that cheap meat that you cook it that day, or freeze it right away.
•The same goes for vegetables. - Produce ripens quickly, and that’s ok, we just have to be ready to use it. Fruits and vegetables that may have a tinge of over-ripening to them are still fine for consumption, and most likely marked down. Again, just make sure you’re cooking or freezing them right away. There’s also a super top secret at almost every market…it’s called “the quick sale” rack or bin. Ask your grocer about it, in a hushed voice, because you do not want everyone knowing about this gem. You never know exactly what is going to be there, but there’s good stuff sometimes.
• Buy in bulk. - Anytime you can get a two-for-one deal, it’s a good day. Whether it’s a whole chicken, milk, or whatever, just make sure it’s something that has a nice long shelf life (eggs), or you can freeze the extra.
• Fresh is best, but you gotta do what you gotta do. - Yes, we prefer that fresh vegetables be used, because the nutrient content is superior to that of canned vegetables. BUT, sometimes you can save a buck by purchasing frozen…they are a close second to fresh when it comes to nutrient content, and many times it’s cheaper than fresh.
• There’s few things in this world that are cheaper than dried beans. - Beans are ridiculously cheap, and dried beans are even cheaper than that. Beans are also easy to throw in a crockpot with plenty of water or broth for a meal or side dish that requires little thought. Combine these beans with a little rice (also inexpensive) for a complete protein.
The best tip I can offer about cooking on a budget is don’t get frustrated. Food prices fluctuate all the time due to droughts, worker strikes, and who knows what else. If you’ll just keep an open mind and try out new recipes, you’ll be a thrifty pro in the kitchen in no time. Try this Cooking Light Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Roasted Potatoes recipe for a healthy and frugal fall dinner.