2013 promises to bring higher receipt totals still. A family of four can expect to pay as much as $875 more to their yearly spending on groceries and eating out, according to Daily Finance.
Photo Credit: Anas Bukhash (nascity)
And with Elizabeth reaching ballet age and Scott playing soccer and football, every penny counts. Every time we go to the grocery store, those extra dollars don’t only hit us in our wallets, but in our hearts because we know what we’re going to have to say when the kids start asking for things they want.
There’s just not enough money coming in to make up for what has to go out, much less for what we want to spend on.
The total increase is above three-quarters of a grand, but we can help you keep a significant portion of that in your pocket – where it belongs – with these 9 under-practiced food hacks.
9 Under-Practiced Food Hacks To Save You Money
1. Learn to love the lentil.
Lentils are an awesome replacement for meat in many dishes. They can be added to rice and the greens of your choice to make a healthy, balanced meal that costs a few cents instead of a few dollars. They are super versatile so you can use them in just about any dish.
2. Learn to stretch the meat you do buy.
Instead of making meat your main dish, make it the marrying component of a meal. For example, instead of using mostly meat in your stews or pastas, use half the amount that you normally would and your meat dollar will go farther without skimping on nutrition.
3. Make Family Chef a weekly tradition in your home.
You know cooking at home is healthier, but sometimes, you just run out of time and can’t. So what happens? You stop by your closest drive thru and order a few “value” meals. Money lost. Nutrition lost. It’s a lose-lose situation. But, if you designate Family Chef night once a week, you can get everyone in the family involved in preparing the week’s meals at once. You may need to freeze some of them in order to make them last until you need them, but freezer meals mean all you have to do is thaw. Faster than the drive thru and cheaper.
4. Make it lunch or Happy Hour.
Lunch meals can save you as much as $20 on your ticket when a family of four goes out. Also, order water when you eat out and save another $10. And if you’re going out without the kids, hit Happy Hour and order the feature appetizer with your drinks and fill up on them, instead of ordering a whole meal.
5. Highlight and hang your grocery receipt.
Highlight your perishable items on your receipt and hang them on the fridge. Use them first. And if you have leftovers in the fridge, either freeze them to eat another time or repurpose them and make them fresh meals again. Leftover veggies can go in soups and things like Shepherd’s Pie to make them “new” again.
6. Freeze those carcasses.
Buy Rotisserie chickens in your grocers deli and when you’ve eaten all the meat off the bones, freeze them until you’ve got 2 or 3 in there and then boil them with cuts of veggies you don’t use to make homemade chicken stock to flavor your meals. It’s healthier than store-bought and less wasteful.
7. Preserve your fresh herbs.
Herbs can be expensive. Yet, how many times have you tossed a bunch of basil because you only needed a few leaves for your pasta sauce? Trying drying them by laying them out on a cookie sheet. Or try freezing them in oil or water in ice cube trays for individual use convenience. (Note: Oil-frozen herbs will need to be used before water-frozen. But drying keeps them longer than both.)
8. Use a ruler to individualize.
Rather than spending on plastic baggies and filling your freezer with bag after bag to freeze individual portions of meat, use quart or gallon sized bags, fill the contents with the full portion. Then, flatten the meat out to fill the container. Once all the air pockets have been removed, use a ruler to make equal sized square portions.
9. Regrow your own veggies.
Use the parts of the vegetables that you would normally throw away to regrow new plants for eating. This is easily done with garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, bok choy, cabbage, and ginger. Simply suspend the roots in water by placing toothpicks into the nub so that you can suspend it above the rim of a dish or glass, submerge the root area in water and keep the “meat” of the veggie out of the water. Refresh the water as needed. For more details on each specific kind of vegetable and what to do with it after shoots appear, check out City Girl Farming.
With these hacks and a little diligence, you can help ease the burden on your food spending and hopefully offset the 2013 predicted increase.
What are your favorite unusual food hacks for saving?
Julian Hearn is the founder of www.Happier.co.uk, a unique social money saving site, where users can added, vote on and share deals and freebies.