How to stretch your food budget

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With the cost of living rising each year, the weekly grocery shop has become an expensive task. While the best way to keep expenses down is to formulate a budget and write a list to avoid impulse purchases, there are a number of other ways to stretch your grocery budget. Here are six:

1. Plan your meals
Make the time to sit down once a week and plan all the meals in advance. This is the best way to ensure that once you’re at the supermarket, you only buy the items you need to prepare those meals. Factor in leftovers so that your meals double up as lunches, and be realistic about how many nights per week you’ll eat out.

2. Buy local and in-season produce
Off season produce tends to be more costly (and has a bigger environmental impact because of the ‘food miles’). Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season because they’ll be in abundance and cheaper. Farmer’s markets are really the best way to go about this, as they’reusually cheaper because there’s no middleman, and local growers will often have the best deals for fresh and in-season produce.

3. Seek out the specials
If there’s one good reason for getting junk mail, it’s the catalogue specials. Check out the supermarket catalogues each week and see if there are any worthy deals. For example, if there are two-for-one specials on meat, you can freeze one and keep the other in the fridge to use that week. (Note: as tempting as some deals are, try not to buy anything that you won’t use).

4. Enjoy meatless meals

Nothing racks up the food bill faster than meat (and alcohol), so try to make one or two vegetarian dinners per week to cut costs. Stock up on pantry staples such as rice, whole grains, beans, and legumes, which are proteinrich, filling and inexpensive. You can then add your seasonal produce for flavour and nutrition.

5. Choose free-range eggs
Eggs are a great, relatively inexpensive alternative to meat. They are full of protein – a single egg contains all your daily essential amino acids – so they fill you up and keep you satisfied. Eggs can also be used in a variety of ways, and they keep well when stored in the fridge.

6. Stock up on frozen goods
Frozen fruit and vegetables are great go-to meal ingredients when you don’t have fresh options available. They also keep for long periods so you don’t have to worry about your unused fruit and veggies going to waste in the bottom of the fridge.

Read more tips for stretching a fixed income.

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Written by ameliath

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