Better Leftovers, Better Savings
Stretching your food budget is as easy as learning to take those leftovers that usually get pushed to the back of the fridge and using them to create a new and exciting dish. The key to doing this successfully is planning your meals to take full advantage of everything in your kitchen. Following a few simple rules will ensure that you don't end up with a refrigerator full of plastic leftover containers.
There are literally thousands of ways to take main course leftovers and turn them into something dramatically different. One of the easiest ideas is making tacos, which can be done with shredded beef, chicken or even turkey. Soups are another easy transformation for a former main course meat. The tried and true pot pie is also a great choice. A bit of filo dough can create a nice package for wrapping leftover meats with rice and vegetables.
The great thing about these options is that you don't have to set a food schedule that locks you into meals. Adding some simple staples to your kitchen will allow you to create these meals on a moments notice so you can use them whenever you want, keeping flexibility in your dinner schedule.
Make a List
When you are planning your trip to the store make sure you include taco seasoning, taco shells or tortillas, filo dough, chicken or vegetable stock and rice. Write out a shopping list before you leave and make sure to stick to it in the store. This can be hard to do because grocery stores are set up to make you want to spend more money. They place high impulse items right in your face at every turn. If you do find yourself grabbing things that aren't on your list take an extra lap around the store and think about whether you really need the item. This extra time will help you overcome the impulse that made you put the item in your cart in the first place.
Try Store Brands
Staple foods don't vary much in quality from brand to brand. Try to buy store and generic brands for items like rice and seasoning mix. While the savings might be only a few cents per package, this kind of savings adds up. If you shop twice a week, saving two or three dollars per shopping trip adds up to hundreds in savings every year.
Sign Up for Reward Cards
Most stores offer rewards cards. They use these to track what you buy at the store and target you for special deals. As long as you stick to your list and don't grab up everything that is "on special" a reward card can be a great tool. Coupons are also a great way to save as long as you do it correctly. Remember, coupons are designed to make you want to buy something that you normally wouldn't. Using them only for items that are already on your list will add extra savings to your shopping experience.
Understanding and using these simple techniques can lead to hundreds of dollars in savings while shopping not to mention the money you'll save on main course items by reusing them for a second meal.