10 Clever Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

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Grocery shopping is a weekly task that shouldn’t stress you out financially. Rising food costs are out of your control, but there are a few ways to stretch your food budget. Consider using these ideas to get more for each dollar at the grocery store.

1. Invest in Freezer Containers

Food eventually spoils in your fridge, even if it comes in packaging with preservatives. If you don’t have the time to eat everything, you could have to throw food away, which is like throwing money away. Freezing is an alternative that could make food last longer. 

Research recipes designed for the freezer. You might cook and freeze chili or prepare a meal and put it in the freezer before baking for an instantly ready meal later. 

As long as your freezer stays at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, your food could remain fresh for three to six months, depending on the storage container. Investing in a good set means you can make food stretch much longer.

2. Convert Dinner Into Breakfast

Last night’s dinner tastes delicious the next morning, too. Try converting yesterday’s food into today’s breakfast for a refreshed and delicious meal.

You could make leftover pizza into breakfast by scrambling it with eggs, vegetables and cheese. Beans and rice taste great in breakfast tacos. Get creative with your cooking, and you won’t have to throw out spoiled leftovers. 

3. Make More Fibrous Meals

People often recommend eating more protein when your stomach growls too soon between meals. Although that can help you stay full longer, protein powders and meats are costly. 

If you want to feel satisfied after your meals and snacks, eat more fiber. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower are available in budget-friendly canned and frozen packages. They have fiber that increases satiety by remaining in the stomach longer due to the complex nature of their fibrous makeup. Your digestive system will take longer to break them down, making you feel full for another hour or more.

4. Visit Different Stores

Anyone living in an area with multiple grocery stores can visit them at various times throughout the week. They’ll price their goods differently and have sales that might make grocery shopping less stressful. You could also find some food in budget-friendly bulk packaging, preventing costly restocking every week.

5. Get Some Groceries Online

You don’t need to visit a grocery store to find the ingredients for your meals and snacks. Check online retailers like Amazon or locally owned stores that ship goods to your home. You might not be able to get everything on your list, but you could find better prices by looking outside grocery brands.

6. Enjoy a Bite Before Shopping

When hunger knocks on your door during a grocery run, you’ll likely add things to your cart that aren’t on your list. Foods start looking more appealing when your hunger tells you to satisfy it immediately.

Avoid this issue by eating a snack before going to the store. You could combine peanut butter and bananas into a folded tortilla wrap or bring a baggie of cashews in your car. If your stomach isn’t empty, you may stick with your grocery budget more easily.

7. Prep Spice Packets

You’ll find premade spice packets in your grocery store by the taco shells and gravy jars. They’re easy to use but costly if you use them frequently. Instead, you can make your own at home with spices already in your cabinet. You could label zip-lock bags with taco seasonings, Italian spices, or garlic and herbs for chicken marinades. They’re just as convenient, and they save money. 

8. Prepare Sauces by Hand

Sauces are foundational ingredients in many recipes. However, they can rack up grocery bills by making you pay for the glass jars and plastic containers that hold each product. Stretch your food budget by making sauces from scratch. Learning new recipes and taking a few more minutes of your time could save a significant amount of money, depending on your weekly meals.

9. Schedule Grocery Pickups

Places like Walmart offer free grocery pickup if you create an account. Others offer the same, but only if you pay a monthly or yearly membership. See which free options are available where you live. You could order exactly what you need and adjust your cart when the price exceeds your budget’s limit.

This strategy also comes with a bonus budget saver — promo codes. Research active discount codes online with your preferred grocery provider. You could save a percentage of your bill or participate in exclusive BOGO sales you wouldn’t get by shopping in person.

10. Select the Buffet Option

Your food budget can also shrink when you dine out. The idea may seem backward, but it’ll make sense if you visit restaurants with a buffet option. Fill your plate and enjoy your meal. Afterward, you can fill a to-go box or two for tomorrow’s meals. You’ll get potentially three meals or more for the price of one, which means your grocery budget can shrink for the week.

Stretch Your Food Budget in New Ways

Use these clever ideas to save money at the grocery store. Trying new tips will stretch your food budget and cut corners without sacrificing your favorite meals. Plan ahead to save time for things like prepping spice packets, freezing meals and searching virtual stores. You’ll regain control of your finances without too much time or effort.