Almost everybody’s budget gets tight now and then. And it usually happens that the low balance in your checking account matches the limited amount of food in your pantry. But what can you do to make it until the next time you get paid?
There are many ways to stretch your meal money. Here are easy ways I’ve used to stretch my meal money in the past until my next paycheck arrived.
Inventory What You Have on Hand
Sometimes there are items you forgot about in your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. Of course, some of these items might be stale or expired, so get rid of those first. Remember some of those dates are “sell by” dates, which means the food isn’t necessary bad. Watch out for those because the food might still be useable and you don’t want to waste it.
Now that you know what you already have, you’ve got a starting point. Can you make some meals from what you have on hand? If not, would you be able to if you purchased only a few items? At times you will need to be creative, such as adding ham to mac and cheese to make a main dish that stretches a small amount of meat you have leftover. Or, cook hamburger, add gravy and put it over rice. See what you can do with what you have so you can save money by not purchasing anything or only a few items if you have to. You might even end up with eating breakfast items for supper, but at least you won’t go over budget.
Make a List
If you do have to buy a few items, try to buy as little as possible. For instance, buy corn flakes to use as breakfast food and also to sprinkle a few over the top of a cheesy potato casserole. Also, purchase items you can use with what you already have to make it a complete meal.
If you have hamburger and beef broth, pick up the store brand of frozen soup vegetables and use those items to put together a beef stew. Stay away from all “extras” such as desserts, soda, and snack foods. Concentrate on main meal ingredients only to stretch your dollars per meal as far as you can by sticking to your grocery list.
Use Sales Ads and Coupons
If you’re hitting rock bottom on your budget, taking the time to check sales flyers and coupons can help you out. Check them to see what you can get on sale to go with what you already have. Then look at the coupons you have and check sites such as coupons.com for more. There are several different sites out there that allow you to print coupons using your home computer and printer. Then, take these to the store to get what you need.
In addition, some of your favorite stores may have websites that allow you to sign up for loyalty programs and e-coupons. Once you create an account on their website, these coupons can be attached to your loyalty number and used in the store for extra discounts. If you pair these up with the sales ads you can maximize your savings to stretch you meal money even further.
Have you ever had to make your meal money stretch? How did you do it?