I’ve been married and budgeting on a small income for 31 years. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that in order to successfully reduce my grocery bills, I must use what I have on hand.
If you want to see your grocery bills plummet
take stock of items you already have on hand and use them!
It’s seriously that easy!
I’m not kidding! This one, single trick can save you significant money on your grocery budget when you employ it on a regular basis.
It’s time to get down to brass tacks and see exactly how I implemented this super savvy saving tool this week in my kitchen!
Let’s get started!
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Step 1: Take Stock
Saturday morning, I threw open the fridge doors on a recent Saturday and pulled out every item that had been in there for a week. Any other items that looked slightly wilted, were also placed on the table.
I labeled the items in the photo above. I knew I needed to use all these items up quickly or I would wind up throwing them out in the garbage in very short order!
And I hate wasting food!
I was a woman on a mission to use this glorious produce, for which I had paid good money, before it rotted and was good only for the compost pile or the garbage can!
Step 2: Find recipes.
My “budget meter” swung into fully charged mode as I used Google to create a menu plan using all of the items on my counter.
It’s so easy to look at ingredients and envision them as the main contributions to any number of soups, main, and side dishes!
Just Google one or two of your featured ingredients together followed by the word, “soup” or “main dish” or “entree” or “casserole”. I showed you an example in the photo. I Googled, “vegan apple soup” and found a huge variety from which to choose. I then narrowed my search to include those recipes, which featured ingredients which I already had in the house.
A note on recipes: They are not the Holy Grail! You can substitute various veggies and fruits you already have in the house without significantly changing the final dish. Trust me. I have done it for years.
Afraid to substitute? You can Google things like: “Can you substitute broccoli for cauliflower?” and find out situations in which the swap works and others in which it doesn’t end so well.
You may even come up with a new family favorite. For instance, one night the kids wanted air fried buffalo wings. But, I didn’t have cauliflower on hand. So, the 15 year old sous chef substituted fresh broccoli. Wow! It had fantastic flavor! We liked it so well, that we use broccoli instead of cauliflower on a regular basis now!
Step 3: Gather additional ingredients
I made a list of soups, entrees, and side dishes that I was going to make with my stash of week-old items from the fridge. There, were, of course, a few more items that I needed to add.
Here are ALL the items that I added from my fridge and pantry:
2 sweet potatoes
3 more tomatoes
2 small white potatoes
2 pounds dried black beans
1 large can tomato sauce
1 bulb of garlic
1 cup kickin’ tomato sauce
4 bullion cubes (This is the ONLY brand of low-sodium broth cube that I recommend!)
herbs and spices
Step 4: Chop and Cook!
Once, I added ingredients that I already had on hand. Since I knew that I planned to use every morsel, I washed, trimmed, and chopped all the ingredients and set them out in piles on a large cutting board.
This made for a very fast and efficient process when I began cooking.
Here’s a look at my impromptu menu:
Along with photos and recipe links!
There is no link for this soup. I make it once a week, using up all the odds and ends of veggies remaining in the fridge. It’s different every single week, but it’s always delicious and always get eaten.
This is another recipe that makes a lot of repeat visits in my home. It originates from the Forks Over Knives website and, other than the black beans, I substitute and add ingredients. This week, I added small cubes of zucchini and yellow squash.
Yep! It’s absolutely TRUE that you will eat more greens if they are prepped and ready to grab!
TIP! To keep the salad fresh longer lay a paper towel or thin, cotton, cloth towel in the bottom of the storage container. It will absorb extra moisture.
This is one of my recipes. The 15 year old sous chef and I created this pesto this summer when we wanted to figure out a way to use radish leaves. I often use half radish leaves and half fresh basil leaves. The perfect combination for a tasty treat. You can serve it over hot pasta or rice for a main dish or (as we did) over hot toast.
This is another Under the Median recipe. I created it after unsuccessfully searching for a vegan version of my favorite childhood treat. I begged my mother to make her special creole green beans. They were flavored with bacon or ham. Being vegan as an adult, I desired the same smoky flavor, without the fat and cholesterol. So, the recipe for “Easy 20 Minute Vegan Creole Green Beans” was born! It really does taste like my childhood!
This was our first time making this recipe and it was delicious! I added 1 cup of my friend, Faith’s kickin’ tomato sauce along with the amount of regular crushed tomatoes called for in the recipe.
Kickin’ tomato sauce is so amazing! It is spicy perfection and yet contains NO added oil, sugar, or salt! We love it so much that I make a triple batch about once a month and freeze it in one cup yogurt containers. Once it is frozen solid, I pop it out, place it in freezer bags, label, and freeze. It thaws beautifully. I use this sauce in many, many recipes that call for barbecue sauce.
The finished baked beans were very “saucy” and had a wonderful hint of heat from the kickin’ tomato sauce. This is a definite “make again” for our family!
The end result of my culinary adventures:
I made enough food to feed my family for THREE days from items I already had in the house! I didn’t have to go the store for even ONE item!
Score a BIG WIN for the monthly food budget!
If you employ this same strategy once a week, you WILL be able to slash your food budget!