Tips for Stocking Your Pantry to Help Cut Food Costs

Like most Americans, your dining out and grocery bills are probably really adding up lately – as inflation and higher economic costs continue to sky rocket. The USDA reports that food inflation is at a 14 year high, with grocery store shopping and eating out costing consumers about 6% more this year than last.

However, you can work smarter instead of harder to help curb some of your food expenses. Here are some suggestions on how to keep your home pantry stocked with staple items that will last you awhile, save money by cooking and eating meals at home, and add some variety to your diet as well.

Here are some essential non-perishable ingredients to always have on hand at home:

  • Whole grains – Oats, quinoa, rice, muffin mix, tortillas, cereal. Bread and bagels will also have a longer shelf life if refrigerated or frozen and used one by one as needed.
  • Pasta
  • Beans/legumes – Chickpeas, lentils, all types of beans (black, kidney, lima, etc.)
  • Baking ingredients – Flour, sugars, baking powder and soda, vanilla or other flavored extracts.
  • Nuts – Almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Condiments – Mayo, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, honey, BBQ sauce, jarred olives and pickles.
  • Jarred sauces
  • Dried herbs and spices – Pepper, salt, cumin, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, garlic and onion powder.

There are also some pantry staples that would be a good idea to have on hand in addition to what’s listed above, to whip up a quick and inexpensive meal. These items will also last you a decent amount of time unopened in your pantry as well:

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Peanut/almond butters
  • Coconut milk
  • Broths/stocks
  • Canned corn
  • Canned tuna and chicken
  • Jarred salsa
  • Capers
  • Raisins and dried cranberries
  • Maple syrup

You may be asking – what can you make with some of these pantry ingredients? To name a few ideas to start, think quesadillas, homemade hummus, pasta with sauce, granola bars, teriyaki sauce to go over rice or chicken, and pancakes. All of these are simple to make, and will use ingredients you already have at home.

Here are also some food ideas to store in your freezer to have on hand:

  • Frozen vegetables like spinach, peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
  • Frozen berries to make smoothies or smoothie bowls
  • Chicken tenders
  • Ground beef
  • Burgers, hotdogs or veggie patties

Here are some food staples to keep in your refrigerator that will last a little longer than other more perishable foods:

  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Nut milks (Almond milk will last much longer than regular milk).
  • Cheeses (Cream cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar, shredded mozzarella).
  • Yogurt

Another idea that always goes over well (especially if you have kids) is breakfast for dinner, using many of the ingredients listed in this blog post. This is an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to make an at home meal a special treat!

If you follow the above tips and keep your pantry stocked, you’ll definitely see some savings on your grocery bill over time and not have to go to the store as often. Not to mention, it’s typically healthier to eat at home too. You can even make it a fun household activity and spend quality time together, by giving each person a job in the kitchen to help put together a great family meal.

In the end – you’ll be saving on food costs, spending time together, and eating a delicious meal. You really can’t put a price tag on that!

Article Source: The Penny Hoarder

Ways to Manage Price Inflation and Increasing Costs

You’ve most likely noticed increasing prices as you check out at the grocery store and fill up your gas tank lately. Last month, consumer prices on goods took a huge jump and increased by 7% from the previous year. This is the highest inflation rate our country has seen in 40 years!

Here are some ways you can manage the current inflation environment and help your bottom line at the same time:

Shop Your Cabinets and Pantry First. Before you hit the store – check your cabinets, pantry, and shelves to see what non-perishable items you already have at home. This will allow you to see what you have already bought previously, shorten your grocery list, and save you some money on your food shopping bill. This also goes for checking toiletry items and cleaning supplies you already have at home, as well as look in your freezer too. It’s easy to forget what you may have already purchased and didn’t realize you had!

Meal Prep. Planning your meals ahead and making a grocery list based on the ingredients you’ll need for the week, will allow you to (hopefully) stick to the list in front of you and not buy extras. Try not to deviate from your list, oftentimes these additional purchases end up spoiling before you get a chance to use them and then end up in the garbage can.

Reduce Waste. This goes hand in hand with meal prepping. Plan out your meals and ingredients for the week ahead. Try to find recipes and ingredients that you can use in multiple meals. For example, say you purchase and cook a whole chicken on Sunday. Use the leftovers for lunches for the week ahead by making a grilled chicken salad on Monday, chicken noodle soup on Tuesday, and a chicken burrito bowl on Wednesday.

Try Using Store Brand Products. Most of the time, you’re going to pay more for a name brand product. While in the store, comparison shop. Typically, you’ll find that the generic store brand is cheaper and is essentially the same exact item.

Buy in Bulk. When you can and if you have the storage space, it’s usually cheaper to buy items in bulk. Think toiletries and household cleaning supplies, pasta, rice, cereal, etc. If you don’t have the space or need that much at the moment, see about splitting the items and costs with a friend or family member.

Cut Back on Meat. Meat tends to increase one’s grocery bill. Try going meatless once or twice a week if you can, and switch to less expensive protein alternatives on those days like beans, lentils, and cheese.

Save on Produce. Try to buy produce that’s in season, which will be cheaper – or buy from your local farm market. Also buying frozen fruit and vegetables will help you save money too.

Try to Save on Gas Prices. Can you carpool to the office or work from home at all? If not – look into signing up for a fuel rewards program, use a credit card that offers cash back on gas purchases, or download a comparison app to see which gas stations near you are the cheapest.

Share. Instead of making large purchases during these times, for items that you probably won’t use every day – see if you can share with or borrow from a friend or family member for expensive tools, appliances, or equipment.

While it may seem that prices and cost of living continues to increase, the suggestions above can certainly help you save some hard-earned money these days. Don’t forget to review this list before you visit the store next!

Article Source: The Penny Hoarder