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One of the big reasons the Honeybee has tolerated me for so long is because I love to cook. Some of you fellas out there would be wise to keep that in mind.Why is that, you ask? Well, it’s somewhat ironic, but the fact remains, the more time men spend working in the kitchen, the less time they spend in hot water with their wife or girlfriend.
Anyway, as the Penzo family chef, I’m always trying to make sure that our grocery bills remain under control. I have to; especially with two teenagers in the house. Last year, I spent $11,722 on groceries, so I have lots of incentive to save.
Now, there are many methods for cutting the grocery bill that go way beyond shopping at discount grocery stores, taking advantage of in-store specials, and using coupons — but I always focus on three key areas to keep my food costs as low as possible. They include:
In this post, I’m focusing on four key tips that I use to keep the family grocery bill under control with respect to planning and development of the family dinner menu:
- Create 14-day dinner plans. I’ve talked about this tip before, but it is worth repeating. Menu planning is one of the very best ways I know to control the grocery bill. It requires about 90 minutes of my time twice per month. I create a menu and then build the grocery list based upon the dinners that were selected for the next 14 days. This process has kept us disciplined in eating the great majority of our meals at home and minimising the temptation to simply go out for pizza or run down to the local fast food joint to avoid cooking. It also virtually eliminated those annoying quick runs to the store to get ingredients for one measly meal. For more details on my family menu planning, check out: Planning Your Dinner Menus In Advance to Save Big Money.
- Don’t be afraid to go vegetarian! I know. But before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that, whether it’s pasta with a simple marinara sauce, Chinese stir fry dishes with rice, casseroles, or eggs, most vegetarian dishes are quick and easy to prepare. I make sure my 2-week dinner menus always include at least two or three meatless dishes. I know for many people mac & cheese is only served as a side dish, but in the Penzo household, it’s a main dish that we have at least once per month. I’m not talking about the boxed stuff either. I always make my mac & cheese from scratch; it’s quick and easy and the kids love it! In fact, it’s so easy that my son has been making it on his own since he was 11 years-old.
- Quit being a baby and embrace leftovers! The number of people I know that refuse to eat leftovers is amazing. What a sad waste of food, not to mention money. In 2011, we spent on average $2.78 per person per meal — of course, that cost would have been higher if we didn’t eat the leftovers. Thankfully, my family loves raiding the refrigerator for culinary odds and ends — so much so that we’re currently saving money by eating leftovers to the tune of roughly $1400 annually.
- Leverage your leftovers. If you simply refuse to eat leftovers, this tip makes for a great money-saving compromise. Coming from an Italian family, I regularly make a big pot of pasta sauce. I always use the sauce for the original pasta dinner, and then freeze the leftover sauce to make lasagna, chicken Parmesan, ravioli or some other pasta dish a week later. I also use left over chicken and beef to make fresh soups and chilies.
The more of these tips you can utilise, the bigger the savings you will realise on your grocery bill. As you can see they are all very easy to implement. All it takes is a little commitment from you to turn these tips into real savings!
Next, I’ll focus on several key grocery shopping strategies I use every month to save big money on my food bills.
Photo Credit: Matt MacGillivray
(This is an updated version of an article that was originally posted on March 25, 2009.)Related Articles:
- Recipe: Easy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
- Save Thousands & Look Like a Genius with Bimonthly Menu Planning
- Plan Dinner Menus In Advance to Save Big Money
- Cheap Cooking: Fantastic Frugal Meal Ideas from Past and Present
- Culinary Odds & Ends: How Eating Leftovers Saves Me $1400 Annually
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