When you are intent on making a particular recipe, you may find that the one ingredient you are missing is now too expensive to be worth making the dish. Having that sinking feeling when you go to buy groceries? If it weren’t bad enough that gas is sky-high, food prices have shot up too.
As food prices escalate, you may be wondering how to save money on your food bill. There’s actually a number of different ways to cut costs there. If you are a good cook, it helps to make things at home from scratch rather than buying processed foods. It’s also healthier! But, if you don’t plan ahead, you may end up making a trip to the grocery store only to realize that you could have bought the item already made for less. That’s because certain foods fluctuate in price due to the season and also due to economic conditions, like recently. So, now, we are forced to take the long view in order to save money on food.
So, here’s what I’m doing…
- Preserving lemons for the winter. Who wants to pay over $1 for a single lemon just because they’re out of season? It turns out to be pretty simple to preserve lemons in the refrigerator too, so that you have a few batches all winter long.
- Making my own salsa. A jar of canned tomatoes, a few jalapenos, a half of an onion, some cilantro, and some preserved or fresh lemon. Whir in a blender and I’ve just saved $3 a jar.
- Stock up on basics. Okay, I can pretty much make my own tortillas, breads, pancakes, jams, jellies, etc. So, if I stock up on sugar, cornmeal, wheat flour, and other staples, I don’t have to pay premium prices on convenience foods.
- Embrace beans. I’m half-Mexican so I can’t say this is all that hard for me. I love beans – black beans, pinto beans, lima beans – you name it! Learn to make soups, refried beans, add them to salads, stews, and more. You can even make dips too, like hummus from garbanzo beans. Buy them dry to save money and learn to soak and cook them properly for meals that are literally less than $1.
- Hydrate with teas. Iced tea is one of the most economical beverages out there and if you’re not from the South, you should try it.
- Can your own jellies and jams. Canning kits are very cheap and learning to can is super easy! You can even “sanitize” your jars in the dishwasher, eliminating one of the most bothersome steps of the entire process. Canning your own jellies, jams, fruits, and vegetables, allows you to buy when in season and can them for later use.
- Build a year-round pantry. Buy extras when things are on sale, like extra canned pumpkin during Thanksgiving or things that you know will keep for a year. Then, use them out of season.
Once you have a little breathing room, you can start planning your meals way ahead of time – keeping you from landing in the store when the price of the “must have” mayonnaise is $6 a jar. Or, by then, you’ve learned to make your own mayonnaise and skipped the trip to the grocery store altogether, saving gas.