With grocery shortages and job losses becoming a daily reality for some, you might find yourself in the position where you’ll need to get creative with your food budget.
Here are a few tips to help your pennies stretch, while ensuring that you stay healthy:
When you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to buy things like beans, lentils, peas, canned tomatoes, and spices. Keep in mind that the dried versions are cheaper, and you can soak them overnight before boiling.
Spices are also important to have, and luckily most of us already have a nice selection of them in our cabinets. You can also find cheap spices in local shops, or in fresh produce sections.
Another option is to try sunflower oil instead of your usual olive oil, and vinegar is another great purchase to have on hand.
You don’t have to stick to just beans, lentils and tomatoes. Here are other cheap and healthy options to include in your shopping list:
Oatmeal and Cereals – these are two of the cheapest staples you can buy, and oatmeal, in particular, is very good for your heart. It’s also easy to change up the flavor of your oatmeal, such as smashing a banana and stirring peanut butter into it.
Eggs – at 10 cents per egg, this can be an easy way to sneak in a little protein and add a little variety to your meal options. Eggs and toast, for example, will cost less than $1 per serving, and eggs are very versatile.
Bread – instead of going for fancier bread and buns, stick with a regular loaf. This can also help ensure that you use up the entire loaf before it goes bad.
Fresh Produce – bananas are very cheap and so is other produce, such as apples, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Just make sure that you plan ahead so nothing spoils, and you can pre-cook various soups and stews to freeze to use later. Frozen vegetables are also great to have on hand.
Rice – rice is fairly cheap and incredibly versatile. It’s a great staple to have on hand to add a little variety to your dishes and to use as a bed for gravies, soups, and stews. Brown rice is the healthier option and isn’t much more expensive.
Peanut Butter – this is a great food to have on hand. Not only is it cheap, but it’s also packed with protein. You can make a lot of sandwiches from just one jar.
Chicken – chicken is a fantastic economical meat to have on hand, and it is usually less expensive than other meats. You can stock up and portion chicken breasts in your freezer to pull out as needed for a wide variety of dishes. Chicken thighs are also a great, and cheaper option.
You might find yourself at a point where you need to get a little creative with the food you have. It’s perfectly ok to experiment and not follow your usual recipes to a T. For example, you can use a different type of noodles, or try using couscous in place of spaghetti.
Being flexible when it comes to cooking can help a food budget stretch further than you’d expect.
Instead of shopping at your usual grocery stores, you can also try the local Spanish and Korean shops nearby, and you probably have a fresh produce or stock market available as well. Don’t be afraid to step beyond your normal routine.
You can also use food as a tool for education. Cooking can be a great way to help keep your children entertained and occupied while teaching them how to measure ingredients, read recipes and helping them learn about different cultures and histories.