According to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. family spends just under 13 percent of its budget on food. That number is expected to rise over the next year due to price increases for wheat, corn, and other foodstuffs.
We all know that clipping coupons, buying generic brands, and shopping in bulk can save money at the grocery store. Here are 10 more ways to chip away at your food budget:
Check your pantry
Before you run out to buy that jar of tomato sauce for tonight’s dinner, you may find there’s one lurking all the way in the back of your pantry. If you find old spices, don’t toss them—just use a little more in the meal.
Shop with a friend and split cartons of eggs, bags of potatoes, or large jars of spices so nothing goes to waste.
Plan for exactly how you’ll use that entire bag of carrots or pint of cream cheese before you put it in your cart.
Asparagus and artichokes are very cheap right now because they’re in season. Butternut squash, however, is not.
Cheat on cheese
Hard, salty cheeses such as pecorino romano, piave, and asiago work just as well as Parmigiano-Reggiano but can be a lot cheaper—so shop around. Also, many cheese displays now have an off-cuts bin, where you can grab smaller portions for a steal.
Peruse the flyer
Grocery stores put their sale items on the front page of their flyers to attract customers. Planning your meals around those sales can cut your food budget by as much as half. If beef is on sale this week, that’s what’s for dinner. If chicken’s on sale next week, pick up a few packages and freeze some.
Stretch your buys
You can roast a chicken for dinner on Monday, turn the leftovers into a chicken salad for Tuesday’s lunch, and then make a stock with the carcass for risotto on Wednesday.
Green peppers are just as tasty and healthy as red or yellow peppers—and way cheaper.
Choose cheap cuts
Shoulder cuts, chuck roasts, and chicken thighs are cheaper than marquee cuts like sirloin and chicken breasts. These cheaper cuts are generally more flavorful, but take longer to cook.
Making a quick and tasty vegetable stock with peelings and offcuts of carrots, celery, onions, and more is much cheaper than buying a pre-made quart.