Spending efficiently and effectively means making a list, stocking up when things are on sale, and planning meals every week. Keeping basic dried staples and canned foods stored in your home can also reduce the need for take-out and emergency grocery store runs.
1) Buy In Bulk
If there are foods that you consume daily or weekly, study the expiration date, and buy a few month’s worths when things go on sale. For example, if your household loves peanut butter sandwiches, remember that peanut butter has a long shelf life if stored properly and buy ten jars when the price is right. All you need is a cool, dry spot to store it.
Everything from brown rice to wholesale muesli in bulk can be stocked up on when prices are low or when your bank account is in good shape. If budgeting and saving aren’t really your forte, consider a large food stock as part of your hedge against monetary uncertainty.
2) Buy and Prepare Foods that Freeze Well
Stocking up on foods doesn’t really save you much if you don’t use it before it spoils. When you bring home food from a shopping trip, consider how you’ll cook it. If you fix eggs for breakfast, put some aside for frozen breakfast sandwiches that you can enjoy when both money and time are in short supply.
3) Get a Crock Pot
A crockpot is one of the best tools for busy families to use when time is short. When you shop for food, consider what can be turned into
- A salad for right now
- A soup or stew for tomorrow, and
- A casserole for next week
Pull out fresh produce and your chopping board. As you clean and chop foods, load up your crockpot as you fill your salad container. Many crock pots allow you to remove the ceramic inner sleeve. Fill up the ceramic sleeve and place it in the refrigerator. In the morning, load it in the metal base and turn it on low. When you get home, dinner will be prepared, and there might even be leftovers for tomorrow!
4) Set Up Subscriptions
In addition to buying ahead on food when things go on sale, set up a subscription for non-food items. Get products including laundry supplies, toilet paper, dish soap, body wash, and shampoo all delivered to your home on a regular schedule. You can even get feminine hygiene products on a subscription, like Creme de la Femme. If you run short or find you have too much, change the schedule.
For those who have serious budget concerns, consider getting these items monthly at your local dollar store. While the products may not be the brand name you know, you can save a lot on your weekly budget by only buying food at the grocery store. As your monetary situation eases, you may be able to set up the subscription purchases as noted above.
5) Create a Pantry
You don’t have to store food in your kitchen. A plastic tub with a lid that seals uptight can be used as a pantry in any room of your house except the bathroom. Again, you can watch the sales or visit your local dollar store to fill it, then slide your tub under a bed for easy access.
Consider loading your bin with
- Bagged rice
- Dried beans
- Canned soups, meats, and veggies, stored with the expiration date visible
- Packaged foods, such as ramen, macaroni and cheese, and other pasta dishes
- Plain packaged pasta
- Spaghetti and pizza sauces
With this pantry, a bag of English muffins and some mozzarella cheese can quickly become toaster oven pizza when time is really tight. Dried beans can easily be turned into a large pot of chili or stew that can be enjoyed over the weekend, or frozen in separate containers for meals later in the week.
The last thing you want to do is find yourself hungry, tired, and completely out of ideas. There are enough stress and uncertainty in the world without worrying about dinner. Buy in bulk when things are on sale, plan your meals around your grocery flyer bargains and cook ahead to keep everyone fed when things get busy.