Save On Groceries & $100 Give Away

Save Money on Groceries

I used to spend a lot of money on groceries. In University, my fiance and I would spend hundreds at the grocery store, and still hundreds more at the farmer’s market. We loved eating, and we loved to eat well. We’d buy expensive cuts of meat, locally sourced yogurt, and tons of fresh veggies – every week.

Needless to say all of that awesome food didn’t come cheap, and when it came time to start chopping my way out of debt, our food bill was one of the first things on the chopping block. Month after month we’d fine tune our shopping habits, developing techniques for lowering our grocery bill, figuring out what worked for our household.

One of the best things we figured out how to do was to shop our pantry. I’m sure you’ve been there, you open up your cup boards and even though there’s tons of cans and packages of food in there, you feel like there’s “nothing to eat”. So you go and get groceries, loading up on your favourite perishable food, while those cans and packages sit in your cupboard, uneaten. This was one of our bad habits that caused us to spend a lot of extra money every week.

These days, when we’re a little low on groceries, instead of running over to the store for a quick refill, I sit down in front of my cupboards and take stock of what’s available. Often there will be remnants of some unsuccessful recipe left behind, a half package of noodles, or a partial box of lentils. Instead of mentally hoping over these items, I focus in. I take whatever it is that has been sitting there uneaten for awhile, and I make it my priority to use it up. After all, unused food is just dollars sitting on the shelves – or worse – in the garbage.

I use websites like allrecipes.com to search for recipes that include that specific ingredient. I try and avoid complicated recipes that will require me to purchase extra ingredients (after all the point is to use up food not create more half used packages) and I get to work putting that food to good use. I’ve made some interesting meals this way, and a few of them have stuck, making this rarely used food into a staple of our diet.

This happened to me just last week. There have been dried kidney beans sitting in my cup board for ages, the result of my sister moving away and gifting me a bunch of ingredients I don’t normally use. So we decided to finally use them. After soaking way too many (rookie mistake) we made a giant pot of chilli and a strange let’s-just-wing-it concoction that was supposed to be soup and ended up being burritos. We’d never made either of those recipes before but they both turned out really good, used ingredients we already have, and fed us for a combined five days (including left over lunches!).

So the next time you look into your pantry and think that there’s “nothing to eat”, look again. What about those dried kidney beans? Or that random jar of soup your Mom gave you last time you visited? Can you make a meal out of that? Shopping your pantry will help you save money on groceries, waste less food, and discover new recipes, what’s not to like?

$100 Give Away

As the title mentioned, this post is part of a Give Away Series that I’m participating in. Entry is simple, just follow the instructions in the widget below for your chance to win either a $100 Amazon gift card or $100 via PayPal.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
This give away was organized by savingadvice.com, for more information on how to participate in future give aways, click here.

So, what ingredient is sitting at the back of your cupboard, lonely, unused and just waiting for it’s chance to shine? I want to know!

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  • Jason @ WorkSaveLive

    Great advice! I can’t say we intentionally use every ingredient we have in the pantry, but we certainly take stock and use most of them. For instance, if we have pasta or spaghetti sauce, then we may make pasta that upcoming week. The only things we don’t focus creating meals around would be spices, flour, sugar, and things of that nature. It is surprising how many meals you can make if you just focus on using what you have though…just last night we had pork tacos and while the meal would normally be expensive, it didn’t cost us much as we’ve had the pork sitting in the freezer for the past year. lol.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    I agree with Jason, great advice! We try and stick to basic ingredients as well so we have a lot of functionality. Our problem though is that we like cooking different ethnic dishes. So, what goes well with Indian does not necessarily go well with Italian. :)

  • http://budgetandthebeach.com/ Budget & the Beach

    Everyone either did this post or Christmas memories today! Ahhh, I’m running out of various ways to comment. :) So I’ll just say, thanks for co-hosting a giveaway, and that I’m really trying hard to reduce my grocery budget each month!

  • holly

    Nice giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for co-hosting. We are posting it tonight.

  • K.K. @ Living Debt Free Rocks!

    Very generous giveaway! I believe that we use the vast majority of our canned goods, then again my mother in law is the resident chef so maybe I should let her answer this question lol!

  • jefferson @seedebtrun

    Groceries continue to be our biggest struggle when it comes to budgeting.. But we never eat out and try to be healthy (and have five mouths to feed), so it kind of comes with the territory..

  • FrugalPortland

    I don’t have much space for canned goods, but I do try to use up the random things in my pantry every few months.

  • http://www.blondeonbudget.wordpress.com/ Blonde on Budget

    There isnt really anything in the pantry that I dont regularly use, because I always look at what I already have before going groceryshopping, so that I can make the most of it.

  • http://twitter.com/prairieecothrif Miss T

    We try to meal plan ahead of time so we only buy groceries that we need. Far to often can things go to waste when you don’t plan. We also freeze our leftovers which works really good of healthy ready to go work lunches.

  • http://www.momoneymohouses.com/ Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses

    I bought a can of pumpkin pie filling and I seriously don’t know why because it’s still in my pantry and will probably remain there until next October.

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  • http://twitter.com/CanadianBudgetB CanadianBudgetBinder

    I think we are all guilty of this and shopping the pantry is a smart idea. I made a pantry list (it’s a downloadable tool on the blog) and we take inventory of what we have in the pantry and in the freezer. Often like you say we run out and buy more and more and forget about what we already have. Knowing what stock you and making sure we rotate it and eat it up before expiry is important. When we have to toss food because we let it expire that’s more money lost. Great post Mr.CBB

  • AbigailP

    We’ve been cooking more lately. A year or so in a kitchen infested with roaches meant my husband wouldn’t eat anything made in there. Then when we moved into the house things were hectic and stressful. So two years of too much fast food means I’d kind of fallen out of the habit.

    I’m sure we’re already saving a lot of food, but I was always too chicken to track just how much we spent on fast food in a week so… yeah. Our spending hasn’t gone down all that noticeably, but we’re also having to stock up on ingredients: soy sauce, honey, etc. Things that will be used up over time but still require an initial investment. And, of course, meat is pricey. (Especially when you only eat poultry.) I need to get into cooking more parts than just breasts. A lot of recipes are fine with legs or a whole bird, which ends up being cheaper than just boneless, skinless breasts.

    We’re still not up to shopping the cupboard much. I mostly just get a couple of recipes I want to make over the week and then make sure we have the ingredients. But at this point we have some extras on hand for the recipes I’ve found easiest (lemon pepper chicken, lime chicken, and some marinades). So I think we’re getting there.

  • The Happy Homeowner

    Love the bean story–we just did the same thing the other night when we
    had “nothing” to eat. Ended up creating such a yummy recipe that I can’t
    wait to try it again!!!

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