Last week I cried on the drive home from the grocery store. I had spent what used to be our grocery budget for an entire month back in 2019 on just one week’s worth of groceries! The struggle was that most of what I bought (73% to be exact) was produce! Not even 5% of what I bought was meat. Eggs were $1.30 more than they had been the week prior and if it wasn’t for the fact that we were out of eggs I wouldn’t have bought any.
I don’t know if you’re feeling the strain on your wallet from trying to buy groceries but goodness me. It’s real y’all. I count myself blessed because my family is 100% debt-free so we have way more wiggle room to weather this storm but dang it the storm is getting bad out there! And I know that there are many, many more families out there struggling to afford life now that things have gotten more expensive.
So, as I’m working my way through (just like everyone else) trying to navigate this inflation storm I wanted to share with you ways that can help reduce the impact of inflation on your grocery budget.
1. Buy “Filler” Foods
If you’ve read my book, you already know all about my love of “filler” foods. Every single culture has one and they are the best-kept secret to saving your grocery budget. For real, if you don’t do anything else in regards to saving your grocery budget, do this one.
“Filler” foods are food items that can help stretch a meal and are typically cheaper food options.
These are just some of the “filler” foods that you can use to stretch your budget! Cabbage is by far my favorite because it’s nutrient-dense (meaning it retains a lot of its nutritional value no matter how you prepare or cook it) and it doesn’t typically spoil quickly. Seriously cabbage can last up to a month in your fridge! Added bonus: it doesn’t really add any flavor to most meals so you can add it in without taking away from the flavor of the meal itself.
Most of these filler foods can be added to almost any dish to stretch it out! So instead of having to use more meat, you can toss in a filler food to stretch out the meal.
2. Offset, offset, offset
Try to offset the increase in grocery prices by taking advantage of apps like Fetch Rewards and websites Rakuten and Swagbucks. No, you won’t become a millionaire using these things but they are great tools to help you recoup some of the costs of your grocery spending.
Fetch Rewards gives you points for every receipt that you can in (and even on online purchases!). You can redeem those points for gift cards.
Swagbucks also works on a points system for gift cards and you can take surveys, get points back on online shopping and use their search bar instead of Google to earn points.
Rakuten is a true cashback site (and honestly, it’s my fav). They give you actual cash back (sent to you every quarter via PayPal) for your online purchases. And if you’re a fan of ordering your groceries online, you can typically earn cashback from Rakuten from your online ordering. Then you can “double-dip” and scan in your receipt to Fetch to get even more points!
3. Saving on Meat
I know, I know, everyone and their mother will be preaching to avoid buying meat at all costs right now, BUT, I’m married to a carnivore so yeah. My husband can barely handle having to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent so trust me, the man would go insane if I stopped buying meat entirely.
So we’re going to borrow some wisdom from my West Virginia grandmother who literally grew up in a dirt floor home and knew a thing or two about making due.
First, don’t be afraid to buy cheap cuts of meat. Bone-in pork steaks are typically way cheaper than boneless pork chops. A whole chicken usually is much cheaper than a pack of boneless chicken breasts (look at the price per pound and compare that to the price per pound of chicken breasts). Buying the frozen log of ground beef or ground turkey is usually going to be cheaper by the pound than the fresh stuff.
Next, don’t be afraid of buying the marked-down meat. So long as you either cook it right up or freeze it right away, it’ll be 100% safe to consume. I always shop the marked-down meat section first and I’m always surprised that there’s so much there but very little in the full price sections.
Third, make meat the sidekick not the hero. Make your sides the main attraction and make the meat it’s counterpart. This will allow you to stretch your meat across a few different meals making the meat last you longer.
Last, it’s better to buy a whole cut of meat and then to cook it up yourself than to buy it already cooked or prepared for you. My husband has been known to buy a big bone-in ribeye roast from the store and then cut it into 1-inch steaks. It saves us a ton when you look at the price per pound. There’s no way we’d be able to 20 + steaks for the price we paid for the roast. So look at your favorite cuts of meat – is there an option to buy a whole meat version? If so, compare the price per pound and see what it’ll save you!
4. Eat those Leftovers
You knew it. You knew I was going here. You gotta eat what you buy or else you’re just throwing your money in the trash. Seriously. Eat the darn leftovers. Take them for lunch the next day. Repurpose them! Have an LO’s night as my neighbor calls it where you only eat leftovers for dinner. In this time of crazy high inflation, it’s no longer a luxury to throw away perfectly edible food.
To make your leftovers taste great don’t reheat them in the microwave. Heat them up on the stovetop, oven, or toaster oven. Trust me. It makes all the difference in the world!
To repurpose them, just get creative! Leftover chicken can turn into chicken salad for wraps or chicken salad sandwiches for the week. Leftover breaded pork chops can turn into BBQ pork. A little creativity can go a long way, my friend.
5. Substitute, Substitute, Substitute
Similar to getting creative with leftovers you also can get creative when certain food items have gotten way too expensive. Like I said earlier, eggs went up by $1.30 in just a week at my local Aldi (they were even more than that at Kroger and Walmart!). A great substitution for eggs when you’re baking is flaxseed (or chia seeds). Just mix 1 tablespoon of milled flax seed plus two tablespoons of warm water and that equals one egg!
Other substitutions work too – like using sour cream instead of mayo for dressing recipes. Or using oats instead of breadcrumbs. Better yet, use applesauce instead of oil when baking. And if your family will eat them, substitute mushrooms for meat in any “meat” type sauce that you’re making.
6. Examine Your Spending
Sometimes you can do all the things and the budget still won’t balance. When this happens we need to create more margin and we do that in 3 ways:
- Cut our expenses.
- Increase our income.
- Do both 1 & 2
And so I want to challenge you to not just look at how you can be saving at the grocery store right now but also look at how you could be saving in other areas as well. Has it been a long time since you shopped around for car/life/home/etc. insurance? If so, it’s time to review your policies to make sure they are adequate, and then it’s time to shop around to see if you can score any savings.
Look at other areas of your spending. Where can you save? Switching cell phone providers? (We switched to Mint Mobile and LOVE it!) Any apps you’re paying for that you don’t really use?
What about increasing your income? Do you have anything that you can sell right now? Don’t fret over trying to make back dollar for dollar what you spent. That’s not the goal here. The goal is to recoup something from it in order to pad up your budget.
Alright, friend! Share the wealth! Comment below your number one tip during these times to stretch your grocery budget!
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