We’ve all faced this scenario at least once: It’s the middle of the month, your grocery budget is completely spent, and your cupboards are starting to look a little bare.
Whether you’re in the middle of a spending freeze, or you just need to stretch that last little bit of your grocery budget until payday, we can help.
I spoke about this topic on my Savings Segment on Fox. Watch the replay video here:
Take A Food Inventory
The first thing you need to do is take about an hour and take inventory of what food you have in your pantry and your freezer. That way you can adequately plan meals and USE UP what’s in there, potentially saving a nice chunk of change!
Take everything out of your pantry and put it on the counter.
Make a list of what you have and start brainstorming possible meal ideas.
Instead of throwing it all back into the pantry, try reorganizing it. This will allow you to see what you have going forward so nothing goes bad before you can use it.
Dig Through Your Freezer
You have to open your fridge every day, after all, this is where a majority of your food lives.
However, if you don’t eat from the freezer often, you might be forgetting about a few things there.
Take the time to take everything out of your freezer and organize it.
There may be a few forgotten freezer meals, frozen meat, or some other treasures you forgot about. Finding them now will help make sure you eat them while you still remember they’re there.
More than half of the population are dehydrated right now.
No matter how much water you think you drink, I am willing to bet it’s not enough.
Drinking water can help you feel full longer, keep you from overeating, and keep you hydrated.
If you are feeling hungry, try drinking a glass of water first. If you are still hungry, then find a snack to eat.
Make Food From Scratch
If you are trying to avoid the grocery store, consider making some of your food from scratch.
You may not have a box of brownie mix sitting around your home, but you are probably going to have everything you need to make homemade brownies if you bake often.
You can make bread, muffins, sauces, and even baking mixes from scratch which cost just pennies to put together!
These foods will not only help stretch your food budget but help you out in a pinch.
Have A Meal Swap
It is both cheaper and easier to double, triple or quadruple the same recipe than it is to make four different meals.
In order to take advantage of this fact, you can make 3 of the same recipe and “swap” it with a couple of friends.
Simply make a few duplicates of your favorite freezer friendly meals, and then freeze them and meet up with friends to swap them out. It’ll save you SO much time and you’ll get some new and interesting meals at the same time!
With the ease of connecting via social media these days, once you mention it you’ll have loads of friends wanting to “swap” with you!
Make It Fun
A spending freeze isn’t just about cutting back; it’s also about being creative!
When we’re getting sick of the dinners we planned, instead of going out to eat, we try a pantry challenge. Each of us picks out one thing from the fridge and one thing from the pantry, and that’s what we use to make dinner that night.
We’ve made some pretty exciting dishes, but it kept things light and fun when we couldn’t spend money.
Keep Your Meals Simple
If you are trying to make your food last, keep meals simple!
Don’t look for extravagant dishes that take 20 ingredients just to make the sauce. Instead, look for recipes that are only a few common ingredients, and work with what you have on hand.
All you need for a healthy meal is the main dish and a side. Depending on your main dish, you might not even need a side.
Use It Up And Do Without
If you are in the middle of a spending freeze, every trip to the grocery store is going to be a little less you can put away at the end of your challenge.
In our home, we live by the motto use it up and do without during our spending freezes to help keep us out of the store.
We use some of the millions of boxes of pasta we’ve stockpiled and look for creative ways to use them from the items we have on hand.
If we have produce in the fridge, we try to eat that first, so it won’t go bad.
If we’re craving something we don’t have, we do without.
One of the significant pitfalls of spending freezes is the assumption that there isn’t enough or there should be more food in the house.
Unless your house is truly empty of all food, I guarantee there is something you can work with. It might not be a lobster dinner, but it will help you get through the month until your spending freeze is over.
YOUR TURN: What meal could you come up with from your freezer? Let me know in the comments below!
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