This has truly been a very challenging time for all of us, and this includes managing our finances when it comes to grocery bills. If we don’t do our homework first – like check what we have in our fridge and pantry – and plan out meals, we will end up spending more money at the food store. 

I hate wasting food. Growing up, my mother constantly would say “Finish everything on our plate”.  It’s embedded in my head and I say the same thing to my children. 

I have been cooking for 27 years. And I’ve learned to plate everything before serving it to my family. In this way, I am in control of how much there is and everyone gets an equal serving. I love being creative with my leftovers. I also love making big batches of meals where I can create different recipes from it.

Covid-19 has had us scrambling for what to cook day in and day out. Preparing food for our families has become a challenge. As much as I stick to our usual favorites, I find myself coming up with something new just to keep it exciting around the kitchen! 

Here are some tips I do to help minimize the expenses and help stick to our “food budget”.

INVENTORY : Make a list of what you will need.

Do your homework before heading to the food store. Go through everything that you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. See the meals you can create with what you already have. Check out expired foods you find and throw it out. Make a list of what you plan to cook for the week. Then make a list of what you will need to buy in order to cook these meals. Remember, always stock on the staples.

PLAN YOUR MEALS: Create a Menu for your Family.

Map out the week by planning which meals to cook. Don’t forget to cook what you have first in your fridge and pantry. Get to the bottom of your freezer and see what you can salvage. Use what you have first. If you have a second fridge in your garage, check it… you might be surprised what you’ll find. 

MAKE YOUR GROCERY LIST: Don’t Forget Your Coupons

So head to the grocery store all prepared and organized. Make sure you bring a pen with you so could easily just cross out what you have put in your cart. Having this system will avoid you from forgetting anything! Take your time. If you see something interesting that wasn’t on your list, why not give it a try. But remember not to go crazy off your list or you’ll end up off budget. Never go food shopping on an empty stomach 😊 this is a disaster. Lol you’ll end up putting things in your cart that’s not part of your plan.

PLAN FOR MAKING A BIG BATCH: Freeze Leftovers.

This method of planning is so effective! It saves time and it’s cost effective especially if you have a big family. The leftovers can be used for another day or better yet, you can create a different meal from it.

For example, cooking a large pot of marinara sauce….serve it over pasta one night. Perhaps in a couple of days you decide to make meatballs or lasagna, you can defrost the marinara sauce and use it. 

There are many ways to use your frozen leftovers. Now is the time to be creative!

MAKE SINGLE DISH MEALS: Casseroles

I love making single dish meals. It’s Bing! Bang! Boom! It’s easy and the clean up part is a breeze. Pick a day out of the week. You can call it Casserole Friday 😊 you’ll find this to be cost effective. Leftovers are usually eaten the following day for lunch or a midnight snack by my boys. Nothing goes to waste! 

FREEZE CUT UP VEGGIES AND FRUITS

Cut up your onions, celery, carrots etc. put them in a ziplock bag and freeze. Make sure that when doing this you are pre-portioning it based on what you would need them for your planned meals. This will make your life so much easier when you’re about to cook. Frozen fruits are great for smoothies!  

STOCK UP ON DRY GOODS: The Starches.

Dry goods have a longer shelf life. The starches you can serve as a side dish to your family will make it more filling if you’re like me- feeding a family of 6. I’m talking about rice, noodles, pasta, quinoa, lentils, kidney beans, etc. 

For example, if I’m cooking a piece of chicken or meat, I will serve it with buttered flat noodles and some veggies. It’s a no brainer. It’s filling and it completes the dish! 

Stay motivated in the kitchen during these trying times. Connect with others.

Swap recipes with friends. Turn to YouTube, Facebook or Instagram for some inspiring meal prep videos. 

Let’s all find the joy in cooking for our families ❤️

Stay Safe And Healthy My Friends😊