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Tips for Trimming Your Grocery Bill (page 2)

Tips for Trimming Your Grocery Bill

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Updated on Nov 26, 2008

Serves 2-4 (depending on how many toppings you use)

What You Need:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • ¾ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound leftover chicken, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • tortillas
  • variety of toppings such as shredded cheese, olives, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sour cream, etc. Serving refried beans will stretch the meal servings even more.
What You Do:

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, add onion and cook until onions are soft and transparent. Add garlic powder and stir. Add chicken and heat through. Pour in a serving bowl and place on table next to all the toppings. Your family can then fill the soft tacos with their favorite toppings

Don’t Just Make a List, Make a Calendar.

The best way to keep your budget in check is to make a meal plan not only for the week ahead, but to create a monthly food calendar to utilize bulk purchases.

Here’s How: Draw up your weekly meal list. Many stores post their weekly specials online, so you can research prices and plan your dishes accordingly. Buy larger portions of the sale items, divide into mealtime portions and freeze. Create your food calendar, which includes room to note not only the meals for the week ahead, but for several weeks out.

Suppose that ground beef is on sale for a ridiculously low price. Plan on making a meatloaf for Sunday dinner (with leftovers for Monday night). Now add a meal that incorporates the remaining frozen beef for the following week (say burgers with caramelized onions) and another entrée (spaghetti with meat sauce) for the week after that. By posting future meals on your calendar, you reduce the risk of frozen goods becoming permanent fixtures in your freezer.

Hit the Farmer’s Market.

People often stay away from the local farmer’s markets and fruit stands thinking that the supermarkets have the better deals. This is not always the case, and often savvy shoppers can fare much better at the farmer’s market than a traditional market (not to mention doing your part to support local agriculture).

Here’s how. If you are unfamiliar with the purveyors at the farmer’s market, check all the prices first—they can differ greatly from stand to stand. Shop for only the peak of season items, when food is at its ripest and most plentiful it will usually be at its cheapest price point of the season. Know exactly how much you need and just buy that—you might be surprised how much you spend on produce that ends up going to waste. Why not buy less (and buy local) instead?

Still not convinced that you can find deals at the farmer’s market? Then visit the market during its last hour of the day, sometimes the vendors will sell their produce at a greatly reduced price rather than take it back with them.

Penny Wise But Pound Foolish—Some Things Not to Do

Only buy bulk on items you continually use and which won’t go stale. Most people leave places like Costco after their first visit there with a cart that looks like they run a little league concession stand. Sure, 40 candy bars for $20 sounds like a great deal, but do you really need 40 candy bars? It only pays to shop at those places if you can stick to the basics.

Also, avoid the fast food dinner night, as it can kill your grocery budget. All the spur-of-the-moment drive-through trips add up. Instead, invest in a Panini maker for the nights you can’t bear to think about dinner. A Panini maker is nothing more than an Italian sandwich grill, but it transforms cold sandwiches into dinner-worthy eats. The sandwiches were traditionally made with ciabatta bread, but most breads work very well. Having an occasional Panini night is also a great way to use up lunch sandwich fixings in the fridge.

Try this: Yummy Panini Combos

  • Pesto, mozzarella and sliced tomatoes
  • Turkey, cheddar cheese, and chutney
  • Ham, brie, and mustard
  • Bacon, fig jam, and goat cheese
  • And for dessert or an afterschool snack: Nutella on sliced wheat bread.

Take time to plan your meals, and make sure to factor in your schedule and energy level when you get home. Know what nights you have time to cook, when you don’t, plan accordingly, and bring your grocery bills down a notch!

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