My original article, 5 Ways To Stretch Your Money Further In The Kitchen is published on Medium.
Many families are feeling the crunch of higher prices at the grocery store, gas pump, and the overall impact of the past two years.
Every penny counts when finances are tight.
Here are five ways to stretch your money further in the kitchen.
Home Cooked Meals — Eating out can add up real quick. Even fast food isn’t very affordable anymore or reliable. Supply shortages and employee crunches have impacted the options some fast-food restaurants offer, plus they may not be open as much either.
Then there’s the topic of nutrition. The chances your meal was fried in soy oil, full of artificial fillers and missing nutrients is even higher eating fast food.
Cooking home-cooked meals can come with many benefits. You can stretch your already tight budget further and serve up nutritious food to your family. If you’re new to cooking, one of the best ways to get started is to follow a recipe. There’s no shortage of recipes online. One great place to find an abundance of ideas is Pinterest. I personally love having recipe books on hand but I also find and print my favorites from Pinterest.
- Organize Your Pantry — To start out organize your pantry, take an inventory of what you have stocked up on already, organize it into sections. (Vegetables, fruit, beans, dry goods.)
- Deals — Look for deals on buying your vegetables by the flat or in 12–24 packs. If you have time, check the weekly sales ads from your local grocery stores to find who has the best prices on exactly what you’re looking for. You can do this online. When one item goes on sale, buy it in multiples. If it’s something you use a lot in your recipes, save money buying multiples by paying the sale price instead of paying full price a week later.
- Cook Soups, Stews, Casseroles, and Chili’s — They can be hearty, nutritious, and be spread out further. Some of my favorite soups to make are potato leek onion soup, Tomato soup, chicken and dumplings (chicken soup, replace noodles with dumplings), beef stew, and chili. I’ll cook up a large pot, serve some for dinner then freeze the rest in smaller portions in various sizes for dinners and lunches. By doing this routinely I’m able to keep a variety of options in my freezer to pull from, especially when I’m wanting an easy meal that’s not taking up a lot of time. Meals can be versatile. For example, leftover chili can be used to make chili dogs, chili fries, baked potatoes with chili on top, chili Verde, and much more.
- Buy In Season — When Squash is in season and at a lower cost, buy extra to can or freeze. I grate up or slice my zucchini or yellow squash and freeze it. When needed I thaw and add to soups, stews, lasagna, or my homemade spaghetti sauce. It’s the perfect way to add in added nutrients for my finicky granddaughters.
- Meats — Let’s talk about meat prices. I’ve noticed at my local grocery stores prices are definitely going up. My solution this fall was to cut out the middle man. I got online and looked up my local ranches. One of my favorite grass-fed meat suppliers was offering bigger meat packages. I placed an order directly from them and scheduled a delivery. I look for high-quality, grass-fed, humanely raised suppliers. It’s important to know where your food comes from. You can usually buy ¼, ⅛, half, or whole cows depending on your budget and freezer space availability. Take a look at your budget and options. Buying meat in bulk can bring peace of mind and save you money the rest of the year, especially if prices continue to climb. I’ve seen family members, friends, and neighbors pitch in on boxes of meat and split the packages up. Even just purchasing larger hamburger packages can help fill your freezer. Split up larger package into smaller portions to make various meals. You can even can meals to save freezer space. Here is the beef stew recipe I’ll be canning up with weekend. (My affiliate link for the canner and Foodi I use are included in this article. )
In 2020 I lost my mind or found it and became a chicken mama. In 2021 I gained a few more. We have a total of five. We mainly ventured into raising chickens for the eggs but they have brought us loads of entertainment, cuddles and keep our spiders in check. No bug sprays are needed at our house. They are great egg layers and we love them to pieces. I can’t fathom eating them so I look for specials on chicken at the grocery store. I like to buy roasted chickens or breasts to prep for multiple meals.
Roasted Chicken — Debone and freeze or use all or portions in various meals.
I’ll cook breasts in a crockpot, Foodi, or boil, then freeze in smaller portions. When I’m meal planning I’ll thaw out what I need ahead of time. There are so many delicious chicken recipes. Chicken enchiladas, chicken nachos, sandwiches, soups, chilis, casseroles, chicken pot pie are just a few ideas. I like to look through recipes and plan ahead.
How do you stretch your dollars further in the kitchen? I’d love to read about your tips.
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