As a Stay-At-Home Mom, a major part of your day may go towards prepping and cooking food, feeding the family, planning meals, and doing the grocery shopping. Managing funds in this area may be a daily or weekly struggle for you when you are pulled between the desire to cook food that the family will enjoy and the necessity of staying within the monthly budget.
This is the second part of the series on tips for saving money in the kitchen. Read Money Saving Tips for Stay-At-Home Moms: In the Kitchen (Part1) to read more tips to save money.
Pre-packaged Food Can Be Eliminated
As mentioned in the earlier article, when you start preparing all your meals at home on a daily basis, you will see that prepping becomes a major part of your meal-planning routine. Chopping up those veggies, marinating the meat, and any and all assorted such tasks are what take up the major part of your cooking time in the kitchen. When dinner time looms large, it is easy to reach for the pre-packaged diced veggies or the frozen meat of questionable packaging dates.
Pre-packaged food or ingredients can ring up a huge bill in our weekly grocery shopping. But this can be avoided. Set aside a part of your day or the weekends for prepping ingredients for the next day or the following week respectively. When your menu planning is done efficiently, prepping ingredients beforehand should become easy eventually.
Pre-packaged snacks are another food category that drills a large hole in our pockets. Instead, opt for easy and healthy snacks you can make at home for the kids. It is doubly advantageous, as you save money and also ensure that your kids are eating healthy food that provide them with all the nutrients they need, while cutting back on harmful preservatives, excess sugar and the like.
Cut Down on Meat
Meat is a go-to option when we plan meals because kids hardly ever turn down meat-based dishes. However, frozen meat is expensive and can dominate space in our budget that could have been reserved for lentils, vegetables, pulses and other healthier options. If it is protein you are looking for, then there are a plethora of other food that can provide ample protein, minus the harmful effects of fats found in meat.
Pulses, beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu, cheeses, almonds, legumes and yogurt are all affordable food that are high in protein. The wide range of protein-high food also gives you the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. Cut down meat to once in a week or so, and introduce your family to more interesting dishes!
Grow a Garden
One of the most gratifying hobbies is gardening, and growing a vegetable or herb garden is even better! Stepping out into your little outdoor garden or reaching out to your herb garden in the kitchen, and grabbing a handful of fresh ingredients to add to your dish, is an act that would make your soul sing!! It also means that you save on at least some fresh ingredients. Even if you don’t have space outdoors of your home, try to grow a few herbs or veggies on your window sill, terrace or balcony. You will soon see the benefits.
Be a Ninja at Grocery Shopping
For some, grocery shopping is an art form! Figuring out what product is best, at which store; what products are priced low, or on sale; and what produce is in season, is something that you get a hang of over a period of time. It is not hard to do, nevertheless. Try to keep a record of the prices of produce that you purchase regularly.
When you analyze your expenses over a period of time, you will figure out what is expensive and what isn’t. Also, check out multiple stores to determine which one offers the most affordable prices. Couponing is another great way to save money. It might sound cliché but it definitely has its benefits! It’s a great idea to also purchase produce when they are on sale, and stack up on those that have a longer shelf life.
Cash, Not Card!
One way to make sure you don’t spend too much is to take cash when you go grocery shopping. It sounds really simple, but this could be a real epiphany! Carrying a card subconsciously allows you to purchase more than what you need, as you think that you can afford those little luxuries.
When all you have is the cash you allotted yourself in the budget, you are more careful to stick to your grocery list, and even fall well below your budget. No one wants to be embarrassed at the check-out counter for not having enough money!
These are just a few of the ways in which you could curb your grocery expenses. Some of them may seem a bit harsh or extreme, but at the centre of your efforts remains the fact that you are trying to make some sacrifices and changes in order to stabilize the monetary position of your family. Do share your money-saving tips for SAHMs with us, and don’t forget to motivate others with your success stories!