How to Save Money At Meal Time
Saving money on meal times isn't always easy, especially when you're feeding a family. But, there are some really simple things you can do to cut costs while still preparing and serving up nutritious meals.
Save money at the grocery store
- Load up your grocery store shopper card with coupons BEFORE you leave the house for your next shopping trip
- Shop the 'loss leader' sales at your favorite grocery store. Most grocery stores offer popular items for a fraction of their regular retail price to attract shopper. The secret is to avoid buying anything else.
- Use price matching at Walmart and other price match stores to get big savings on meats and name brand items. Just be sure to bring along this week's circular from the competing store and show the circular items to your cashier BEFORE she starts ringing up the items so she can make adjustments.
- Print out coupons at popular coupon sites online.
- Use a local coupon swap group to get coupons you wouldn't ordinarily have access to.
Save money by stocking up
When you find a loss leader at your favorite store, you should stock up with the maximum allowed items. Bring your kids or spouse along on these shopping trips and let them go through another line to make a purchase of the maximum too. Just make sure you have enough shopper savings cards for ever member of your family as these deals are usually only available with a store card.
Save money with a local coupon swap group
Start a local neighborhood coupon swap club with other moms. Meet once a week to discuss money saving tips and exchange coupons. Keep an eye out for coupons that other moms might enjoy and you will get a better deal at swap time. Sign up for baby and new mom coupon newsletters from companies like Gerber and Huggies to receive free monthly coupons and samples. Then use these samples with the new moms in your group to get access to the better coupons they have to
If you can't start a local coupon swap group, check out the numerous online coupon swap sites.
Save money by cooking in bulk
Bulk cooking can be a huge money-saver, especially for families on a budget. You will need some basic tools to make this idea work:
- deep chest freezer
- crockpot or soup pot (for chilli/stew)
- snap top containers for storing your food.
Be sure to start with a good supply of high quality meat (the best you can afford) and cook all with one basic recipe. For instance, the same spices used for your chili meat can double for sloppy joes.
Save money by freezing food and leftovers
When preparing food, you can easily double the ingredients to make a double batch. Serve one batch for dinner and freeze the leftovers. When you freeze the food right out of the pot, it will taste fresher, than if you had left it in your refrigerator over night before freezing.
This type of purposeful 'prepare and freeze' meal will give you the option of not cooking later on. And, since it costs just a couple dollars more to make a double portion, you're already saving money on your groceries.
Save money by canning food
Canning food can be a fun and easy way to save money on groceries. You can either can foods using a traditional canner or simply can foods and then freeze them.
Freezing a mason jar of food is a much easier process and can keep your left overs just as fresh as Tupperware.
To can and freeze in mason jars, you would follow this simple procedure.
Next time, you make up soup, chili or stew, just add a few extra ingredients and you will be well on your way to having plenty of Mason jar (frozen) left overs.
- Put your mason jars into boiling water to sanitize and then wipe clean.
- Next ladle hot (not cold or warm) food into the Mason jars.
- Wipe the lid area clean and affix the jar lid and screw top.
- Allow the jar to sit on your counter until you hear the top pop, meaning the jar is sealed.
- Put the jars into your freezer for use later.
- Use caution when popping the lid so that you can reuse later.
- These 'meals in a mason jar' are not shelf stable and should only be kept in your freezer.
- Always use caution when removing jars from the water as they will be hot. If you'd prefer, you can simply set your Mason jars upright in the hot water and fill over the pot. That will mean one less thing you have to do when canning for the freezer.
- To do more serious shelf stable canning with low acid foods like meats, you will need a pressure canner, which is available at Kmart or other mass retailer for around $70.
Save money with a neighborhood bake
Invite some friends or neighbors over for a Friday night bake-a-thon at your house. Pick out some recipes you think will be popular with the group. Then ask each friend to bring some basic ingredients like a bag of flour, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta, etc. When combined, these items will make various delicious recipes. When the recipes are fully cooked, everyone takes a serving with them. Each participant in the bake-a-thon should bring their own freezer safe containers or Tupperware.
© 2018 Beverly Johnson