Since the New Year is only a couple of days away, I need help saving money and really becoming frugal, especially when it comes to food shopping. Any ideas? I am only shopping for one, but money is really tight!
By Lynda from Kearny, NJ
I find it useful to sit down and work out the cost of meals I make by adding the price of various ingredients used. Sometimes it can really be an eye-opener. Other factors come into play too, like how many leftovers I can get from a dish. Meals based on pasta and rice are usually cheapest to make, as are soups.
Having a menu plan for the week is also really helpful. I can plan up a list for grocery shopping and if I stick to it I don't usually need to spend much at all. It's when you buy food on the fly that it gets expensive because you just grab whatever is nearest!
Also, have a good look through your cupboards and freezer to see what you've got on hand. No need to buy staples like pasta or canned tomatoes if you've already got them. Keep an eye on the price per pound of food rather than package price to work out what kind of value it is. Store brands are usually cheaper and just as good as national brands. Good luck!
Lynda - here is a short list of my best suggestions to keep food shopping costs to a minimum.
1. Plan your menus, first. This will help you avoid impulse purchases.
2. As you plan menus, check sales flyers, web sites and coupons for bargains: Remember, it you don't need it, it's not a bargain, even if it is on sale.
3. Keep menu items in weekly menus in like minded "families". For example, if you are making a potato dish on day one that needs fresh rosemary, add another recipe later in the week that also calls for fresh rosemary so that you don't waste the leftover fresh rosemary.
4. Shop on a budget and use cash: It's too easy to spend an extra $10.00, $20.00, etc., if you use a checkbook or debit card.
5. Don't assume that "buying in bulk" is always the least expensive option. Take your calculator to the store and verify the per portion savings before blindly throwing a big package of something into the cart.
6. Never shop when you are rushed: Take the time you need to make wise choices.
7. Never shop when you are hungry! (We all get that one!)
8. Properly store (pantry, fridge, freezer) items as soon as you get home to avoid spoilage.
9. Midway through every menu period, re-evaluate the leftovers and find creative ways to mix them in with future menus. Every leftover has the potential for a second chance.
Hope this is a helpful "food for thought" place to start and good luck with redefining your "frugal lifestyle." You will be glad you did and I wish you the best of luck! :-)
Go to angelfoodministeries.com and see if there is a center in or near your area. The food packages are extremely reasonable and the quality is good. I found that sometimes the contents are more than than this "family of one" can use. Includes eggs, veggies, meats, etc. Great way to save.
If money is really tight, you might qualify for food stamps, or EIC. If you make too much for food stamps, but not enough to eat well, here is a local food pantry in your area: RENAISSANCE FOOD PANTRY Site: 22 Wilson Avenue, Kearny, NJ 07082 Phone: 201-998-9460. You can give them a call and find out what their qualifications are.
I'm sorry, it's not EIC, it's EBT. Anyway here is the link to get information on food stamps in New Jersey: http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dfd/programs/foodstamps/
I am in NJ too. Get the weekly circulars for your local supermarkets (they are online if you don't get paper ones) and plan your shopping according to what's on sale. If chicken or pork chops are on sale, that's what you are having. I find ShopRite has the best prices. Buy staples like tuna, pasta, coffee, cereal when it is on sale and stock your pantry gradually.
I save money by eating considerably less meat. I eat more beans, rice (brown), grains (whole), pasta (mostly whole grain). (By the way, they are not always "cheaper" but they are better for you and might save some doctor and hospital bills later in life, so you have to factor in that "cost"). I buy the best food possible, for the money. fruits, vegetables as opposed to potato chips, soft drinks. I watch sales and plan menus around them. Cook most of your foods as opposed to buying already made up meals (TV dinners, etc).
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