Stay out of restaurants
It is almost always less expensive (and healthier) to cook at home. If you feel deprived, learn to prepare some of your restaurant favorites at home. Google your favorite dish at a restaurant and find a knock up recipe. Assign the kids to do the total clean up one night a week so you can get that “eat and leave” feeling you get at a restaurant.
Shop your pantry
Before you head out to the store, shop your pantry first. Do an inventory of what you already have. Do you have everything but one item to make that casserole everyone loves?
Planning can be everything! Let this be a family adventure that everyone is involved in. Does your hubby feel deprived if he doesn’t have his favorite meal at least once a week? Or does your 3 old feel more comfortable eating a certain type of fruit whether it is on sale or not? Budget these items in so that everyone stays happy and doesn’t feel deprived.
Make a list of what you need to purchase. You can even go as far as putting the estimated cost of each item beside it and doing a quick tally before you head out so that you know beforehand how much you are going to spend. Stop halfway through the grocery aisle and evaluate what you have put into your shopping cart. Are you sticking to the list? Have you put any items in the cart that wasn’t on your list?
Shop the sales flyer
Know what is on sale at your grocery store and choose your meals accordingly.
Match coupons with sales to obtain the maximum savings. Check out some of the couponing sites such as SouthernSavers WeUseCoupons KrazyCouponLady and the like to find out where the deals are.
Waste Not, Want Not
Use leftovers! Host a “leftover night” and bring out all the leftovers and serve buffet style. If you purchase a tub of sour cream because you are planning on having baked potatoes and end up only using a few teaspoons you have paid a huge amount for those baked potatoes. Find recipes that compliment each other by using the entire quantity of an item that you have purchased.
Serve inexpensive recipes
Substitute expensive ingredients for less expensive ones. If you are a Dave Ramsey fan you know his saying about “eating beans and rice”. There are unlimited ways to prepare beans and rice, believe me! Find recipes for dishes that incorporate ingredients that are in season or on sale.
Eat less meat
Declare at least one night a week as vegetarian night and work your way up to as many meatless meals as your family will allow. You may even lose a little weight too!
Pick healthy foods that are less expensive. Water is free from my tap or pennies if you have municipal water. Bananas can be purchased at a cost of .39 to .59 cents per pound making them a cheap and convenient snack.
Take drinks and snacks with you
Brew your own coffee and use a travel mug instead of stopping for that overpriced cup of coffee. The actual cost of a soda in a 12 pack is about .25 cents. That same soda is going to cost you over $1 at the convenience store not to mention the snacks that you are going to impulse buy when you are in that store.
Pack your lunch
We all know that eating out is expensive but sometimes we don’t take into consideration a fast food drive thru at lunch as “eating out” but it is. This is a great opportunity to use up the leftovers.