Everyone knows groceries are expensive and cooking takes time. But there are a few simple things you can do to save both money and effort. Here are ten meal shortcuts to save you time and money.
Stock Up. One of the easiest ways to save time and money on meals is to stock up. Proteins, such as beef or chicken, are always the most expensive portion of the meal. Thus, if you have the room to do so, stock up and freeze when they are on sale. (Tip: If you do not have an extra freezer or chest freezer, investing in one so you can stock up on sale meats will save you far more in the long run than the initial investment.)
Cut Coupons. Coupons are one of the greatest ways to save money on your grocery bill. They are readily available in the newspaper and also online. If you have a particular item you know you absolutely have to buy, do an online search for printable coupons pertaining to that item. Fifty or seventy five cents here or there can quickly add up!
Price Match. Competition is usually a good thing for the consumer. Save the weekly advertisements from various local grocery stores. Take them to one store that price matches, making your grocery trips that much more cost effective.
Prep Ahead Of Time. Preparing anything you can ahead of time is a great way to save money. Brown all ground meats at once and then freeze, making use of them take less time. Chop all vegetables and store in an air tight container. If possible, choose one day a week to cook a variety of meals and freeze them. After all, if you are going to all the trouble to cook once, why not make extra for later on in the week?
Multiple Meal Rule. One great way to save money is to incorporate a multiple meal rule in you shopping. That is, if it will not be an ingredient or make at least two meals, don’t buy it! Thinking with this logic will allow you to really consider your purchases.
Know What You Need. Always keep track of your pantry inventory. This way, when you are shopping you will not be purchasing another item you already have sixteen of in the pantry. Stocking up is great, but overstocking is just wasteful on time and money.
Know Your Flavors. When it comes to cooking, spices and extracts are important. However, some are more expensive than others. Know what flavors are easily interchangeable for the same desired effect. (Tip: A search online or a basic cooking book from the library should help aid in this.)
Experiment. Along with knowing what flavors are interchangeable, learn to experiment! If it sounds good together, try it. This is a great way to incorporate sale items into your pantry and/or recipe use.
Use The Internet. The internet is a great source of information. From what coupons to match with what grocery sales to meals under a certain price range, many bloggers have already put in the time and energy to find the information. Don’t let their talent and time go to waste… use it yourself!
Make Friends. Make friends with your local butcher or other grocery store staff. Often, they will be able to call you right before they mark down meats or other items. This can certainly save you a lot of time and money!