Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tightening the Belt... without Sacrifice

I can't believe it's my last week at work!  I'll be starting school full-time next week, and that means we'll be a one income household.  Sure, I have some things on the horizon, but for the time being, we've got to economize, baby!  It's all about tightening our belt or wallet without giving up good taste and good nutrition.

In preparation for these big changes, we've taken a few steps to pare down.  For one, we've set a budget for our grocery bill and to help us stick to it, we've switched to paying cash.  It's hard to hand over dollar bills rather than swiping a card.  And while I shop, I keep a running tab on a calculator.  That really keeps things in check.  By the end of the trip, I know if I have the money to splurge a little or not.

As always, make a menu before you go and make your grocery list from there.  Look at the week's ad at your local grocer or two and use the sale items to build your menu.  Chicken on sale?  Can you get 5 lbs of potatoes for a song?  Consult your cookbooks and recipe sources online to help come up with tasty meals using sale items.  And don't be ashamed to clip coupons, but be careful!  Only cut out ones for items you USE on a regular basis.  Take them to the store, but compare prices.  Sometimes coupons don't guarantee the best deal.  Calculators are your best friend in the grocery store!

I know this can sound really restrictive and boring, but don't resort to plain stand-by recipes.  You will get tired and burnt out and then you will blow it.  Like dieting, don't do anything crazy and cut out carbs or fat or sugar, because you will end up surrounded by burgers, fries, fried rice, and ice cream.  Look for new ideas and recipes to try.  Branch out to new cuisines.  Keep it interesting!

It's true, cheap food is not always healthy food, but shop for whole, raw ingredients!  You can get great deals on fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta in bulk (it goes on sale too!), dried beans, eggs, milk, and other proteins.

What tricks do you use to keep your grocery bill low?

1 comment:

Scott said...

Farmer's Markets offer quality local food at a fraction of what stores charge. Out here it's great but you might have to drive a distance away from Austin to get the good deals.