Grocery shopping can be a hassle (and expensive) if you don’t know what you need and if you don’t have a list prepared ahead of time. I am terrible about spending too much money in the grocery store, as well as wasting too much time there. Since moving out on my own, and having to live on a tight budget, I have learned a few ways to be creative with meals to save money. Here they are, along with a few of my favorite meal ideas.
Tip #1 – Look through your pantry to see what you have.
Before you make a list of groceries you need, check first to see what you already have. For example, I already have a box of spaghetti noodles, a can of tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning. What else do I need to make spaghetti? All I need to buy is a pound of hamburger and maybe some cheesy garlic bread, and I have a spaghetti dinner! This leads to my next tip…
Tip #2 – Plan the week’s meals ahead of time
After you have rummaged through your pantry, you should have a good idea of what you are working with. Now, make a list of meals that you would like to make during the week, including side dishes. On your grocery list, write down what you need to buy for each dish. If you are using some of the items that you already have, your shopping list shouldn’t be very long.
Tip #3 – Stock up on canned and boxed items when they are on sale.
In most grocery stores, you will be able to find the advertised sale items just as you walk in (they usually plan this so they are on your right as you walk in). If you have access to one, look through the store ad before you leave home. This way, you can get an idea of what you need ahead of time. I like to stock up on canned veggies, tomato sauce, Campbell’s cream of mushroom and chicken soups, chili beans, and different types of pasta noodles. Look through the ads to see if there is anything you use a lot, or are planning on using in the future.
These are some of my favorite meals because they are cheap and easy to make:
Tater Tot Hotdish (click link for recipe)- All you need is hamburger, canned veggies, cream of mushroom soup, shredded cheese, and frozen tater tots.
Chili – Brown some hamburger, throw in some chili seasoning, tomato sauce, and add a variety of canned beans.
Goulash – Boil elbow noodles and mix in tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and dump in whatever canned veggies you like.
Spaghetti – I like to make my own sauce by browning hamburger and adding tomato sauce and various seasonings.
Ranch Pork Roast (click link for recipe)- This takes quite a bit of time, but is still pretty easy and tastes great!
Thinking up meal ideas and going grocery shopping can be a pain but I hope that, by sharing my thoughts with you, I have made this task a little easier. Happy shopping!