This is a crazy time in our world right now. With COVID-19 running rampant, it has shut down everything. Many people have lost their jobs, and people are unable to afford food.
Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t be able to go to a restaurant and eat. Most of them are closed or closing. So more people are having to cook.
The other issue is money is scarce and many jobs are on the line. We are having to make every dollar stretch. That is what we are going to discuss today.
Let’s jump into it!
Have a Strategy for Shopping
Thinking of shopping like a race. Your goal is to be in and checkout spending as little money as possible. Here are some tips to optimize your visit.
- Make a meal plan for a week or two in advance
- The idea here is to figure out the cheapest way to buy your staple foods. Most stores have the items that are on sale listed on their websites or they send out junk mail. You can plan your meals based on the items you can see that are on sale
- Use a discount grocery store
- Almost all cities have one of these. If you have a Dollar Tree or an Aldi’s, these are great places. They still have what you would get in a store, (they are off brands), and everything is cheaper.
- Focus on your grocery list
- More than likely once you are in the store your eyes will wander. You’ll want to buy those chips or cakes that you love. Say no to anything that isn’t on your list.
- Buy the off-brands
- Like I stated before, the generic brands are cheaper than the normal ones. Most of the time you can’t even tell the difference.
Use staple foods as the backbone of your meal prep.
Ideas of staple foods are eggs, rice, beans, pasta, and produce. These are the best foods to buy on a budget. You can make tons of meals involving these. Not only are they tasty, but they are cheap.
Find recipes for meals that are involving these. Most of the time all you need to is add seasoning or a type of meat and they are low cost. But the more recipes you have that use these, you’ll see how far you can make these low-cost foods stretch.
Find cheap ways to make the things you like.
I know we are aiming for the cheapest way to feed ourselves. It doesn’t mean we have to be miserable in doing so. Just because you have rice, you don’t have to eat it plain.
You should be looking for recipes with ingredients you enjoy. Spending the extra money for a seasoning blend goes a long way. You do not have to live off salt and pepper on rice only.
Remember the point here is to use these staples as your guide to creating meals. Buy a jar of tomato sauce, some green peppers, and onions. Add these to your pasta and you’ll have a hearty dish.
There are many ways to do this. My personal favorite is mixing rice and black beans with some sausage. It ends up being delicious. It also lasts for a couple of days as well.
Use recipes you like for inspiration.
Seasoning goes a long way. This is the key to creating low budget meals. Learning to season your basic ingredients is how the magic happens here.
Figure out how to season basic foods to your taste. A good way of doing this google a recipe you like to eat that involve these staple ingredients. This should give you an idea of what seasonings to use.
The best part of this process, is learning. Once you figure out how seasonings work and taste, it becomes almost second nature. I barely use recipes anymore. I know what I like and add it to the staples and protein.
Once you know, you’ll be able to look in your pantry and figure something out. You can continue looking at recipes and getting new ideas. You’ll be pro in no time.
Learn how to cook dry beans and rice
Rice and beans are amazing. You can buy them in bulk. They are also super cheap.
` Rice and beans are easy to cook. A half-pound of dried beans yields about 1.5 pounds of cooked beans. That’s a lot of beans and when you combine that with cooked rice, that’s a meal for a couple of days. Like I was saying, you can add almost any meat to this. With the proper seasoning, this will stretch in to and enjoyable meal.
You can cook a batch of rice and it can last you days. Some mornings I scramble eggs. I add rice and some salsa verde and it makes a tasty Spanish dish. Not only this, but you can use this rice and add some soy sauce and you are able to make a makeshift Chinese dinner.
As you can see, rice and beans are versatile. They are very easy to season. You can add them to almost everything to make a meal. Once cooked, they both end up being a bunch of food. Experiment around, you’ll always be able to figure something out.
So there you go! Those are 5 basic tips to stretch your food budget! I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful. Till next time!