How to keep your fridge and pantry stocked on a budget
How to keep your fridge and pantry stocked on a budget

Keeping your family's refrigerator and wallet full is a tough job. Here are 10 great ideas for a healthy, well-stocked pantry and fridge that will save you time and slash your grocery bill!

1. Plan ahead

Use a calendar to plan menus in advance. Note which days you have 20 minutes to get dinner on the table and which days allow for a little more time. Devising a system will allow you to schedule more balanced meals because you can see at a glance how often you're serving red meat instead of white, or takeaway instead your own cooking.

2. Cook from recipes

Consider them your planning guides. Everything is there in a ready-made list: oregano, olive oil, bread crumbs, canned tomatoes. What's more, making a shopping list directly from a recipe means you'll have no last minute "oops-I'm-out-of-something" panics and no time-wasting trips to the supermarket when you'd rather be cooking.

3. Shop while the kids are busy

Shopping is faster if you go alone. Plan supermarket trips when the kids are in school or at music lessons, etc. You might also consider arranging a shopping club with friends. This is where a couple of people take turns watching the kids while others do the grocery shopping for the week.

4. Shop on a full stomach

If you shop when you're hungry, you're subject to spur-of-the-moment cravings and impulse buys. To manage the lifestyle you want, shop after lunch or dinner.

5. Savings are under your nose

Most supermarkets stock expensive brands at eye level; look on the highest and lowest shelves for lower-cost generics and in-store specials.

6. Buying in bulk doesn't mean automatic savings

Dry goods and some convenience items are a good bet for bulk-buying: cleaning products, sugar, longlife soy milk, vinegars, peanut butter and grains. Never buy oils (which go rancid), spices (which lose flavour), or perishables in bulk. A large box of peaches won't have saved you anything when you throw half of it away.

7. Produce: Fresh vs. frozen

Some fruits and vegetables are fine frozen; others don't translate well. You can't really go wrong with a bag of frozen peas, mixed vegies or berries in the freezer for emergencies.

8. Buy meat and fish once a month

Take advantage of discounts on meat and fish and freeze ahead for the month. Wrap the pieces individually and tightly in plastic wrap, then bundle them in batches by meal in freezer bags. Label each with the contents and date. For safety's sake, always thaw these in the refrigerator, never on the bench or in the sink.

9. Keep a cooler bag in your car

On a hot day, just getting your food home from the supermarket can considerably reduce its shelf-life. A cooler bag in the boot will help keep your dairy products cold, your meat and fish fresh, and your ice-cream frozen.

10. Keep a budget in mind

Instead of racing around tossing everything in the trolley, try to have a purpose for each shop. One week focus on cleaning products, the next on bathroom essentials, etc. This way the expensive items won't add up in the one shop.

This article was originally written for in conjunction with Weight Watchers as part of their Positively Life Changing initiative.  

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