Here are the things I do for reducing the grocery bill:
- try not to take anyone with you to the store.
- identify several of the cheapest meals that my family likes, and serve them more often. For our family, this is potato soup, scalloped potatoes (with ham, cheese, or plain); stir fry; various pasta dishes; homemade pizzas (store-bought pizza bases); tuna/macaroni salad, tuna casserole; veggie lasagna.
- make some things myself. I use a lot of the recipes that Amy Dacyczyn features. I make my own dried onion soup mix, hot cocoa mix, cream soup mix, breadcrumbs, croutons, chicken coating mix, fudgsicles, pancake syrup, teriyaki sauce, and chocolate sauce. On occasion I make homemade salsa, spaghetti sauce, bbq sauce, and salad dressings.
- pop our own popcorn.
- use ‘bowl bonnets’ to cover food bowls with in the fridge. You can get 6 for $1 or so (they look like shower caps), and this saves on the yards of plastic wrap I used to use.
- use meat more as a condiment rather than the feature of the meal. I serve meat as a feature item.
- I serve meals for 2 or 3 days and then declare ‘nuke night’ where folks zap leftovers in the microwave. I might make a salad or heat up some canned soup to go with it. This saves me from having a bunch of little odds and ends growing fur in the fridge, like I used to have.
- Look in the fridge every day! Know what’s in there growing old.
- I learned to use my freezer – bulk cooking, also freezing items that I never did before. I now buy cheese on sale or in huge economical chunks and then cut it into smaller pieces and stick in the freezer. I also chop bacon into bits and freeze small packs to use in flavoring casseroles; I freeze fresh ginger, overripe bananas, ends of bread (until I make breadcrumbs or stuffing).
- I’ve learned to use powdered milk. Not for drinking but for cooking. I just make it up in the measuring cup when I need it. Easy and cheap.
- I try like heck not to go to the grocery store between weekly trips. I modify recipes or make something else if I need to.
- I made a price book. Now I am quite aware of what a good sale price is (versus a fake sale price!) and know when to stock up.
- I freeze chicken breasts individually so that I only take out what I need and not more.
These days, I am trying to take my food budget to the next level – more freezer cooking, new frugal recipes, maybe even learn to bake with yeast. I’m having a ball doing all of this stuff and see it as an immense challenge. Good luck to you. Lise