Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Monday, October 21, 2013

How I Cut My Grocery Bill By 20%

VeegMama's reduced shopping cartI am feeling quite proud of myself these days and also a little giddy!  The reason?  I am saving money every week at the grocery store.  I am not a coupon cutting kind of gal (maybe I should be).  I look for deals on clothes, gifts, housewares, and just about every other area in my life, except my groceries.  Recently, I have been on a mission to tighten our money belt and was forced to look at the grocery bill.  I thought it would be hard to cut back, but surprisingly, I have been saving $30-50 a week with my new plan.  

This is what I am doing...

1. Raiding the pantry and freezer: When I do my weekly meal plan (which is a basic must-do for saving at the grocery store), I first look at what I have in the pantry or freezer as ingredients.  Then, when I am looking at my recipes, I keep my eyes peeled for dishes using those ingredients or look for ways to modify recipes I want to cook with what I have.  This seems like a no brainer, "duh" tip, but it's new to me!

2. Reinventing leftovers: I am used to eating leftovers for an easy lunch, but recently I have been changing it up by turning leftovers into a new meal for later in the week.  For example, those Greek pitas and saffron rice from last Sunday's dinner got transformed into a mediterranean "arroz con pollo" with a different side veggie.  My kids loved it and didn't even realize it was leftovers until halfway through the meal, when one of them asked "Didn't we have this rice on Sunday?"

3. Simplifying meals: I love to challenge myself in the kitchen and try out new recipes.  It's my sort of relaxation and creative outlet during the busy week.  Often, that meant, buying a variety of ingredients for two to three new dishes a week.  To save a little sanity (part of the new, more "relaxed" me) and money, I have focused on trying out one new "fancy" meal a week, which I preserve for our family's weekly Shabbat meal. 

4. Repurposing ingredients: In my love affair with food, I was doing a lot of cooking at lunch, making new meals for lunch and dinner daily, but I have gotten smarter by cooking and buying batches of particular ingredients and using them throughout the week for several meals.  For example, the bag of arugula and batch of quinoa I have on Monday, can also fuel my lunches for at least 2-3 other lunches during the week.

5. Cutting back on "extras": This is probably the hardest change I have made: giving up my weekly wine and flower purchases.  I save these for special purchases now, which is probably healthier (on the wine side).  I have also cut back on the amount of snacks and treats I purchase.  I found that I was keeping a well-stocked pantry with these items, and now we just buy what we eat for the week, instead of having a stockpile for later.

Do you have any tips for saving at the grocery store?  I would love to hear them.  Let me know in the comments section below.