Meal Planning 101: Part 3

Money.  We all have it, we all spend it.  It’s the HOW we spend it that gets us most often,  Today let’s talk tips to saving the moo-lah when shopping for food.

STEP 3:  DOLLA DOLLA BILLS

Let’s first get back to getting in tune with your kitchen.  Since you now know what is IN your fridge, you know when it needs to be cycled OUT.  We don’t always get around to using every last bit of everything, even though it is our best intention.  At the end of each week, take a look at what’s in your fridge and PRESERVE.  The easiest way to do this is to prep and freeze.  Just about everything can be frozen and used later--let’s look at some examples.

  Kraut  is super easy and a delicious way to preserve a giant cabbage.

Kraut is super easy and a delicious way to preserve a giant cabbage.

Veggies:  Braise and freeze.  I’m talking greens, broccoli, carrots, peppers...Just about everything (with an exception of lettuce, celery and avocado) freeze well for later use.  Chop them up, braise in salted, boiling water for a few minutes, drain and pop into a freezer baggie to use in your next culinary creation.  Don’t have time for this?  Start a freezer baggie for not-so-hot looking veggies to make a broth for later.

Half open containers of just about anything:  I’m talking the half used quart of veggie stock, the half can of beans in the tupperware, the cup of  cooked rice left from Wednesday.  Measure it, mark a freezer baggie, and pop in the freezer.

Leftovers:  Again, the majority can be frozen--even if it is just one portion.  Great to pull out of the freezer on a whim for lunch or dinner down the road.

2.  Buy in bulk.  You don’t have to be a member of Costco to take advantage of purchasing bulk food.  Buy QUARTS of yogurt rather than cups, BOXES of crackers rather than snack packs, 5lb bag of carrots instead of baby carrots and shop in the bulk section of your grocery store for grains, nuts, and other goodies when it is an option for you.  A pound of organic rolled oats in the bulk section at Whole Foods will run just over $2.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

3.  Commit to being veggie for a day.  This will, without a doubt, keep some money in the bank.  Bonus?  Better for your health and the environment!  

4.  Join a CSA!  A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is basically a local farm share.  There are so many great options and benefits here.  Our CSA typically breaks down to $23 per week, and provides all of the veggies (plus some fruit!) that we need for the week.  Most farms offer a budget plan, which allows you to spread out payments across a few months.  I will update this year's CSA info soon, but you can check out LocalHarvest in the meantime! 

 CSA Shares from 2015

CSA Shares from 2015

5.  Commit to ONE grocery shopping day per week.  You’re using that list you created while meal planning, so no excuses here.  Chris and I were the KINGS of stopping to get “one thing” on the way home from work and would come out $40 in the hole.  Multiply those “one thing” stops by 3, and you’ve spent some serious cash!!  There is a rare exception we allow ourselves to revisit the store each week.  Make that a rule for yourself and stick to it.  

6.  Consider making 2 grocery stops.  Go ahead, call me crazy.  If you are serious about saving money, you should DO THIS!  We make 2 lists each week--one for Aldi, a discount food store in our area, and one for Whole Foods.  The stores are located just miles away from one another.  We get what we can from Aldi, and then get the rest from Whole Foods.  I am more and more impressed with the organic options available at Aldi, and their selection is always changing.  Keeping a child entertained while shopping is easy, as long as you are prepared with LOTS of snacks.  {Last week, in just over an hour grocery trip, Ziggy ate an apple, a banana, a pouch, some pretzels and a fruit leather.  Kid can eat.  Also important to note:  Some Whole Foods stores also offer snacks to their “kids club” members--pop by customer service and ask!}

7.  Commit to the Dirty Dozen list when purchasing produce.  I prefer to buy organic when we can, but prices can be sometimes be a little cray cray.  By sticking to this list, I feel good about what I am feeding my family and doing my part to protect the environment from the pesticide funk.

 

What tips do you have to saving the moo-lah?  Share below!