Menu Planning: Tips on How to Stretch Your Food Shopping Dollar

Woman thinking how to stretch her food shopping dollar.

Finding foods that are inexpensive and nutritious can be difficult. Add to that, finding foods that can last for more than a few days and you have a real challenge. By using canned and frozen foods, menu planning, and using all these ideas to create a shopping list, you can make your shopping trip a success while stretching your dollar.

Canned Proteins That Pack a Punch

If you are looking for proteins that can last, look no further than the canned aisle. This is where you will find a variety of beans, canned fish, and canned chicken. These items can be purchased in bulk and easily stored for later use. They are full of protein and low in fat. If you are looking for a new way to use these staples, think outside the box. By grinding chickpeas and adding olive oil and lemon juice, you have your own homemade hummus. Canned fish doesn't have to be tuna. What about trying anchovies? A salty little fish packed with protein, calcium, and iron can be put on pizza, in salads, or sautéed as a pasta addition. Canned chicken can be used just as fresh chicken in a casserole or as filling for a burrito or quesadillas.

Think Frozen

Frozen fruits and vegetables are a great alternative to fresh ones when you are looking to make fewer trips to the grocery store and stretch your dollar further. They are a great addition to a smoothie or used as a topping for yogurt, once defrosted. Frozen vegetables can easily be used as-is, but why not spice them up? Mix up your frozen broccoli or spinach with eggs, onions, and shredded cheese and you have a crustless Quiché. You can also find non-traditional vegetables in the frozen aisle like avocado, riced cauliflower, a great rice alternative, and spiralized zucchini, a substitute for pasta.

Menu Planning

Sitting down before heading to the grocery store helps accomplish a number of things. First, you can create a menu that uses some of the same ingredients throughout the week, allowing you to buy in bulk. For example, if you make a number of dinners that include chicken, this allows you to purchase chicken in bulk, thereby bringing down the price per pound of chicken. Pre-planning your menu also allows you to review the supermarket circulars and create meals that utilize sale items. Finally, by planning your menu, you will be able to determine exactly how much of each item you need, thereby cutting down on food waste.

Create a Shopping List

Now that you know what items last the longest, pack the best nutritious punch for your dollar and have your menu planned out, create a shopping list. If you have ever been to the grocery store with a vague recollection of what it was that you needed to get, you may find yourself leaving the store with more items than you had planned or items that you aren't sure how to work into your meal routine. Impulse buying can wreak havoc on your budget and add to food waste. Having a shopping list of your essential items can keep your spending on track. This doesn't mean you can get the chips, but think about how those chips factor into your menu planning, and your budget, before making any sudden moves.

The next time you are about to head out to the grocery store, use these tips to help you stay on track with your food budget. By planning your meals and always having something in the pantry for you to create a meal, you will also find that you are less inclined to get takeout too.


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