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Stretch Your Grocery Budget

Updated on July 12, 2013

Tips for Making Your Money Last

When you have a limited income, you need to make your money last. You have to stretch the money you do have to make it until the next payday. One way to make your money stretch is by stretching the products you buy to make them last longer.

As a single mother of two kids, I cared for my family with a limited income for many years. I always hated the months when we would run out of money a long time before the end of the month. Sometimes there would be up to two weeks between the day our cash ran out and the next payday. Some months were very disheartening, but we still had to survive. Children have to eat! So, I found some methods for making things work out.

Here are some great money saving tips I have found for stretching your grocery budget so your money will last longer.

Stretch your grocery budget the Frischy way!


Stretch Your Grocery Budget Poll - What would you do with an extra $280?

Did you realize if you save just $5.00 a week by stretching your grocery budget, that at the end of a year you will have saved $280.00? Small savings can really add up!

What would you do with an extra $280.00?

See results

Stretch Your Grocery Budget

Make your food budget stretch by extending your food and using fillers.

  1. Stretch ground beef or turkey by mixing it with stale bread crumbs, cracker crumbs or oatmeal. You can even use the dregs at the bottom of a box of unsweetened cereal to extend your hamburger meat. Just crumble it up well and mix it well with the meat. If you need a binder, try a well-beaten egg, some milk or a dab of worcestershire sauce.
  2. Stretch soup by adding additional vegetables, noodles or rice. Extend a can of cream of chicken soup by serving it over rice or mashed potatoes. Serve canned stew or vegetable beef soup over a bed of mashed potatoes.
  3. You can save money by skipping sugar-laden fruit drinks, but if you are still buying them dilute them by adding more water. If you do this gradually, your family will not notice.
  4. Adding more beans to recipes provides additional protein and fiber while extending the number of servings at a relatively low cost. Even canned beans are very cheap protein. If you start with dry beans, they are even cheaper.
  5. Keep a container in the freezer to collect your leftover vegetables and scraps of meat. Even bits of leftover sauces and gravy can go in. Once a month or so, use the contents to make a soup.
  6. Remake leftovers into another meal. For example, yesterday's hamburgers or meatloaf could become the meat in tonight's spaghetti sauce. Put beef stew in a crust and make a pot pie. Baked chicken can become chicken casserole or chicken salad. Our grandmothers used to serve mashed potatoes one night and potato cakes the next.
  7. Leftover cooked cereal can go into a loaf of bread to eat with dinner.

Stretch Your Grocery Budget With Nonfat Dry Milk

See How Powdered Milk Can Make Your Money Last!

Nonfat Dry Milk is a great bargain for stretching your food budget. There are so many ways to use powdered milk and buying some will make your family healthier and keep money in your pocket. What could be better?

Let me start by saying that I hate the taste of powdered milk. Some people can get used to the taste and drink it all the time. I tried doing this when I was a poor college student and was never successful. I did find some ways to use this product though, and it saved me a lot of money over the years.

When I was in college, one of the challenges I had was refrigeration. I found I could mix some nonfat dry milk with cold water and put it on my cereal in the morning. The taste was a little different, but it was acceptable. This allowed me to eat breakfast in my dorm room and save my meal tickets.

Another strategy is to mix regular milk with reconstituted nonfat dry milk. My mother used to do this while we were at school and we never knew the difference because she kept everything in the original milk jugs. If we ever noticed the difference in the taste she would say something about the cows' diet changing due to the change in season. Oh, the cows are starting to eat grass now. The cows are eating more hay due to the drought. The farmers are giving the cows more corn these days due to grain prices. None of us ever caught on, but she let us in on her secret when we became mothers ourselves!

Of course, using powdered milk in cooking will allow you to save your good milk for the table. It works fine for any recipe, even baking. To make a substitute for buttermilk, just add a spoonful of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of reconstituted nonfat dry milk. This is good in biscuits or cakes.

In the wintertime I always make a big batch of hot chocolate mix using powdered milk. This is a bargain compared to the cocoa mix you buy at the store, especially if you plan ahead and stock up on the ingredients when they are on sale. You can find my hot chocolate recipe here.

You can also boost the nutritional value of other foods by adding some extra dry powdered milk to dishes like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, cream sauces or scrambled eggs. Keeping your family well-nourished is an important part of surviving on a limited income. Staying healthy saves money!

Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping & Cooking Frugally: Tasty Tips for Saving Money from the Grocery Store to the Dinner Table

I confess I have not read this book yet, but it definitely looks like one to try! It has great reviews, and even people who have long been frugal cooks say they learned new tricks from this author.

Another Stretching Your Grocery Budget Poll

Finding ways to cut back and make good use of what we are already buying will keep our dollars in our pockets longer!

Do you use nonfat dry milk?

See results

Read More About Nonfat Dry Milk - Stretch Your Grocery Budget With Powdered Milk!

Want to learn more about how to stretch your food using powdered milk? Check out the links below for more information on this frugal product!

Tricks With Stale Bread to Stretch Your Grocery Budget

Do you find yourself throwing away the last few slices of a loaf of bread? Do your end pieces go to waste? Stretch your grocery budget by making use of this wasted food!

  1. Turn stale bread into French toast. Just beat some eggs in a shallow bowl with a little milk, sugar and vanilla extract to taste. Dip the bread slices in and cook in a medium skillet with butter or margarine. No need to get all fancy! The kids will love this. Serve with syrup or jelly.
  2. Save stale bread crumbs in the freezer and use as filler for ground meats, or mix with melted butter to top casseroles.
  3. Top slices with grated cheese and warm in the oven or toast under the broiler to make a yummy cheese bread that goes great with soup.
  4. Of course you can make a grilled cheese sandwich, but how about making a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Just coat the outside of your favorite pbj with butter or margarine and cooking it in a buttered skillet This is a high-calorie yummy treat!
  5. Make some bread pudding with your stale bread.
  6. Make croutons by drizzling herb butter (a stick of butter or margarine melted with some fresh basil and minced garlic) over bread cubes, then baking at 275 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve with salad or soup, or just munch as a crunchy snack.

How to Make Egg Bread - A delicious treat to stretch your grocery budget!

Here is a recipe that is cheap to make, but is very tasty and makes a fun treat. Use up your stale bread and take advantage of some reconstituted powdered or evaporated milk to save even more money.

How to Make Bread Pudding - Stretch your grocery budget by making a dessert with your stale bread!

Yet Another Stretching the Grocery Budget Poll

Did you find an idea for using up the last of your loaf of bread?

See results

Stretching Paper Products, Cleaning and Laundry Supplies - Your Grocery Budget is Not Just Food!

The money we spend on cleaning supplies, paper products and laundry products can really add up! These non-food items can take a huge chunk out of our food budget if we are not careful. Finding ways to stretch these products can keep those dollars in our pockets.

  1. Have you tried making your own laundry detergent? I did not like the results when I tried it; but, I have found I can stretch my store bought detergent by adding borax or washing soda. These detergent boosters allow me to use less and make my money go farther.
  2. Cut fabric softener sheets in half, or use them twice.
  3. Ditch the paper fabric softener sheets and make your own substitute by putting some liquid fabric softener on a wet wash cloth and tossing this into the dryer with your damp clothes.
  4. Hang your laundry as often as possible. For more information on how to do this without access to an outdoor clothesline, see my lens on laundry racks.
  5. Cut paper napkins in half. Just open them up, restack, then cut with large scissors.
  6. Use cloth napkins all or part of the time.
  7. Substitute family cloth for all or some of your toilet paper.
  8. Use vinegar to clean your house instead of expensive chemical solutions.
  9. Stretch dishwasher detergent by adding baking soda or borax.
  10. Instead of expensive toilet bowl cleaners, I have found that old fashioned Comet works just as well for a fraction of the cost. A can of Comet costs less than a dollar and lasts for weeks.
  11. Get the last drops out of a seemingly empty bottle of liquid laundry or dish detergent. Just add water, swish it around in the bottle, then dump the contents into your wash water. Repeat until no more suds come out of the bottle. When doing this at the washing machine, I just use the water pouring into the washer to fill my bottle to avoid trips back and forth to the sink.

One Last Stretching the Grocery Budget Poll

Do you make your own cleaning products?

See results

Read More about Stretching Your Grocery Budget - Cookbooks to help you prepare great meals for less money

Share Your Tips! - How do you stretch your grocery budget?

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    • frugalfinance lm profile image

      frugalfinance lm 

      6 years ago

      Some great tips here. I'd never thought about making my cleaning products before but I'll definitely be looking into it now! Love the tips for leftover bread too!

    • Mamabyrd profile image


      6 years ago

      I do a lot of freezer cooking. It saves us time and money

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Just me visiting again...and again thinking---I already do most everything on your lists! Just imagine if everyone would even do just a few of the many things that you list.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I do most everything on your list! I do, however, need to make some bread pudding and appreciate you sharing the link. In fact, I am pinning this so that I can come back to it later.

      Remember, my hubby works for Sara Lee so we have plenty of bread 99% of them time...and so much of it goes to waste if he just brings too much home.

    • Bluemoongoddess1 profile image

      Lisa Musser 

      7 years ago from Kansa, USA

      Great tips for saving money, I use some of these myself.

    • KingLobster LM profile image

      KingLobster LM 

      7 years ago

      Very very nice lens. We all have to make that money work for us.

    • sheriangell profile image


      7 years ago

      Great tips and blessed by a Squid Angel today.


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