Over the past few days, I’ve been doing a lot of work on my family’s food budget. I’ve been looking for ways to stretch our funds, because when you don’t have much to spend, it’s nice to make the money go further.
I’ve found a few food hacks that I plan on doing. They may save you money, or they may not be right for your situation. Either way, this is what I’m doing. If you like it, use it. Or just get inspiration. I’ll be updating this post if I find more fun hacks in the future (I say “fun” because budgeting is like a number puzzle to me, and I want to win), so hang on to this post if you like this stuff.
Almost all of these hacks talk in terms of cents, but I’ve found that it’s not the big expenses that save a lot of money; it’s the little, daily expenses that add up and save the most. To that end, I’m going to put the yearly savings at the end of each hack.
Food Budgeting Hacks
-We do like a meat component to dishes (even though it’s not much). It’s just a fact that processed meat is more flavorful than plain meat (yes, I could spice up my own, but it wouldn’t be as easy or taste the same). The healthiest processed meat I’ve found is ground sausage. It’s more expensive, so to stretch it, I take 1 lb of ground sausage and cook it up with 1/2 lb of ground beef. Then I drain it and divide the meat into 6 servings. Doing so (with prices at my store) saves me 28 cents over eating all sausage. ($100.80/year)
-I put oats in my smoothie every morning. Oats are usually inexpensive, but gluten-free oats (as I have to have) are not so inexpensive. Instead of putting 1/2 c gf oats in my smoothie in the mornings, I put in 1/4 c gf oats and 1/4-1/2 c brown rice. This saves me 5 cents a day. That’s not much, but it’s easy for me to do, so I might as well (When I stop being pregnant, I’m going to switch to all brown rice which’ll save about 12 cents a day, but oats contain silica which is really good for skin – and I need that since my belly is expanding rapidly) ($18-$43.20/year)
-There are several dishes my husband likes that require cream cheese. I’d like to get him off cheese because dairy is scary, but for now, I just use 1/2 a container of cream cheese instead of the whole thing. This is still enough to get that cheesy flavor, but it’s a bit better for my husband, and it saves 50 cents. (this is only a once or twice a week hack – $39/year)
-I have a pitt-boxer mix dog, and his skin gets so dry. For a long time, I fed him only Diamond Naturals dog food (since he has problems with corn), but the food didn’t help his skin problems. I’ve begun making most of his food since I’m at home all day anyway. The recipe I use is: -1 c dry lentils -2 c rice -1/2 c canola oil. One batch is about 3,000-ish calories, and that’ll feed my dog for a day and a half. I don’t know that this food has complete nutrition in it, so I still give my dog a little Diamond Naturals every day as his “multivitamin” to make sure he gets everything he needs. This recipe not only is helping my dog not have such dry skin, but it saves about $1.40 a batch. ($341/year)
-Still on dogs, the treats for them at the store are horrible for their health (the first 4 ingredients of a popular dog treat are wheat flour, meat and bone meal, sugar, poultry by-products) I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to feed my dogs that. Instead, I feed my dogs hotdogs as treats. They each get 1/2-1 hot dog. This only saves about 2-3 cents, but I know that it’s much healthier for my dogs. (for 1 treat a day – $9/year)
-When you need to prepare/line a pan for baking, the price of oil/foil/parchment paper all differ. The absolute cheapest way to line your pans is to use some cheap, flimsy foil for about 5 cents. The next cheapest option is to use oil, 1 tsp of really good coconut or olive oil can be around 8 cents (which is roughly the same as heavy-duty foil). Parchment paper is the priciest option at about 10 cents per use. I’m switching over to using all heavy-duty foil. I wash re-use it if possible (which cuts the price in half), and I can’t wash and reuse the oil, parchment paper, or cheap foil. (Switching from parchment paper to heavy-duty foil (and using it at least twice) saves $11/year)
-On the same note, silicone baking cups are a savvy investment. They pay for themselves after just four uses, and then it’s free to line your baking pans. Cheap cupcake liners cost about $0.01 a piece, which is almost negligible, but you have to use 12 of them to make cupcakes. After four uses that’s 48 cents, and reusable cupcake cups are only about 41 cents a piece. Plus, they’re silicone and won’t leach anything into your food. (Switching saves about $17/year if you bake cupcakes multiple times a week)