Friday, December 24, 2010

Maximise Your Food Budget for the New Year

Merry Christmas Eve to all my friends and readers of Associate Money. Hope you guys enjoy the turkeys, chocolate puddings, gift exchange and a great holiday ahead.

As 2011 beckons, I am disappointed that the economy is not out of the doldrums, despite whatever benefits Ben Bernanke has been telling us about Quantitative Easing. The nascent recovery is not in the employment market and money is still in short order for most Americans.

Our family is still saving for a rainy day and the austerity mood will likely prevail in the new year.

I believe inflation will come up strongly in the next couple of years. Without salary hikes to catch up with inflation, is it possible to stretch our food budget and buy the same stuff for less money or rather lesser purchasing power?

I’ve found some great ways of stretching our groceries so that I can make the next shopping trip go a little bit further. Here are some useful food shopping tips to try:

1. Eat less.

Yes, I know this sounds really obvious. But it is true, we can afford to cut down on our portion sizes by around a third without feeling hungry. Already, Americans are struggling with obesity issues because we love to upsize our food.

Going for smaller portions save money and is more healthy. You shed extra pounds without signing up for gym or diet pills.

2. Avoid Junk food.

This is probably old advice. Nutritionists have been talking the ills of junk food for a long time, and I am not here to debate with the experts. Junk food (burgers, potato chips, cookies, etc) can be quite expensive and burst your food budget easily if you have a habit of snacking while you are working or watching television.

Avoiding junk food and snacks(processed food) will save you money.

3. Add extra ingredients to your meals.

This may sound contrary to our objective of maximizing the food budget. After all, adding extra ingredients cost money. But it is possible that with extra ingredients, your meals actually go further.

For example, if you add pasta and leftover food to soup, a snack can become a full meal with nutritional value for the family. Pasta is cheap and leftover meat and vegetables don't add to your shopping bill.

4. Dress up your leftovers.

There are always leftovers in our family. We don't go out of our way to portion the food for each member. And we also find it more economical to cook in bulk, ie. not only for a single meal.

I know some people have an aversion to leftovers thinking it is unhealthy. But that is a waste of money and not environmentally friendly.

Leftovers can be dressed up to look like freshly made food if you are creative enough. The rice from yesterday meal can be transformed into fried rice by throwing in a few eggs for today's dinner. The chicken fillet can also be made into a pie for the weekend.

5. Use up everything.

There could be a use for everything. Hence, don't throw away any food, unless they have turned rotten. Many meals can also be bulked up by serving them with a bread roll and the remaining food can be placed in the freezer. Just defrost them as needed during the week.

After trying these tips, check to see how long is it before you make another trip to the grocery store and make purchases again. I am sure you can stretch your food budget and head to the store a lot less often.