Frugal Cooking Tips

Frugal Cooking Tips to Help Stretch Your Grocery Budget

Frugal Cooking Tips

Wouldn't it be nice to pay less for your groceries? These 12 frugal cooking tips that I'm sharing with you today will help you stretch your grocery budget. Some require a little extra time and work, but the savings makes it all worth the effort.

Let's begin, shall we?

Frugal cooking tip #1: Make your own buttermilk.

Milk Vinegar and Buttermilk
Add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let the the mixture set for five minutes before adding it to your recipe.

Frugal cooking tip #2: Don't throw away stale bread and heels.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Breadcrumbs
If your stale bread and the heels doesn't have mold on it, tear it up in pieces, put it in your food processor and pulse to make breadcrumbs for later use in a meatloaf or other recipes that call for breadcrumbs. If the stale bread and heels are still a bit soft and not all the way dried out, place the slices in a toaster or toaster oven and toast until dry. Be sure to let the bread cool before putting it in the processor.

Put your homemade breadcrumbs in a resealable bag, glass jar or storage container, label it with the date, and then store them in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Frugal cooking tip #3: Make your own chicken broth.

Frugal Cooking Tip - Make Own Chicken Broth

Photo credit: Flickr/Warren Layton

Make your own chicken broth from unused chicken skin, bones and other chicken waste. For instance, any time you cut up a whole chicken, use the waste to make chicken broth. Once the broth is finished, you can freeze it for later use, so making this ahead saves time and money. 😉

Another frugal way to make broth is with bouillon cubes. Just add a beef or chicken bouillon cube to water. Bouillon cubes are a whole lot cheaper than buying the boxed or canned broths.

Frugal cooking tip #4: Make your own pasta.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Dough
Homemade pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, lasagna, etc.) costs less and tastes better than store bought. It's easier to make pasta if you have a stand mixer with a multipurpose attachment hub, such as the KitchenAid mixer. If you have this mixer, as well as the pasta maker attachment, making pasta from scratch is much easier and less time consuming.

If you don't have one of those fancy mixers or the pasta attachments and can't splurge for any of it at this time, the following video teaches you how to make a variety of different pastas by hand.

You can make your pasta ahead of time and freeze it. Just lay the pasta out on a baking sheet and place it in the freezer. After it's frozen, transfer it to freezer bags or a freezer safe container. It should keep in the freezer for a couple months. To cook it from the freezer, add it to a pot of boiling water that you've salted.

Frugal cooking tip #5: Save your cooking oil.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Reuse Cooking Oil
Save cooking oil to re-use it, but keep in mind you don't want to fry chicken in oil that you fried fish in, so be sure you label the glass jars or containers you save the oils in (e.g. chicken oil, fish oil, etc.).

If you need some additional advice on how to preserve cooking oil, check out the video below from Debbie's Back Porch.

Frugal cooking tip #6: Use bacon grease instead of oil.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Bacon Grease
Speaking of cooking oil, rather than buying cooking oil, use bacon grease instead. It definitely adds flavor!

Frugal cooking tip #7: Make your own chicken strips and nuggets.

Frugal Cooking Tip - Homemade Chicken Strips
Three boneless, skinless chicken breasts makes approximately 12 chicken strips. If you're in the mood for nuggets instead, the same amount of chicken breasts yields approximately 48 nuggets.

Frugal cooking tip #8: Use beans and rice as a filler.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Beans and Rice
Both are inexpensive and healthy. Whether you're just feeding your family or you plan to prepare a meal for guests, beans and rice will stretch your grocery budget and recipes.

Frugal cooking tip #9: Make your own frozen meals.

DIY Frozen Meals

Photo credit: Flickr/Megan Mills

Rather than buying those pricey frozen meals, make your own. It does take a little time to make meals ahead of time then freeze them, but it's well worth it for the savings. Another benefit is DIY freezer meals are quicker to cook, which leads to eating out less.

Pinterest has tons of frugal freezer meal recipes to choose from.

Frugal cooking tip #10: Grow your own produce and herbs.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Produce
Growing your own produce and fresh herbs will take a little extra time and work, but if you can do it, it helps quite a bit when it comes to stretching your grocery budget.

Unless you happen to have a greenhouse, you won't be able to grow produce year-round, but that's ok. Just make sure you grow extra to can and/or freeze to get you through the winter. You can even make your own pasta sauce, tomato sauce and jams from the produce you grow.

Frugal cooking tip #11: Keep an updated price list.

Frugal Meal Planning
When I do my frugal meal planning, I refer to a price list that I keep updated. My price list has the products I buy frequently along with the prices from my local Kroger.

After doing a price comparison to determine which grocery store was cheapest in my area, Kroger was the winner, so I created a price list of all the products I buy the most. By referring to my price list, I know what's truly on sale at that time, as well as how much I'll be spending. This price list helps me stay within my frugal grocery budget.

Frugal cooking tip #12: Make your own ground beef.

Frugal Cooking Tips - Grind Meat
A food grinder is a must-have money-saving product, so if you don't have one, get one today, or just as soon as your budget allows. Then use your food grinder to make your own ground beef from chuck roasts, chuck steaks, round steak, sirloin tip steaks and other beef that you find on sale.

When choosing the beef for grinding into ground beef, select cuts with some fat. Leaner cuts of beef with hardly any fat won't work well, so don't choose those.

What frugal cooking tips can you add to this list that helps you stretch your grocery budget? Leave a comment to share.

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Frugal Grocery Budget Advice

Frugal Grocery Budget: How I Reduced My Monthly Grocery Bill by Over $300

Frugal Grocery Budget Advice

Back when there were seven of us in the house, our grocery bill -- as you can imagine -- was pretty high. I would use coupons and create my weekly menu from that week's sales. Although that helped keep the cost down, I still spent an average of $800.00 a month on groceries.

Something had to give, so I began looking at more ways to reduce my monthly grocery bill.

Adding Meat Bundles to a Frugal Grocery Budget Equals Big Savings

I kept hearing how buying meat by the bulk could save families quite a bit of money, so when I started looking for ways to reduce our family's grocery bill, this was the first thing I looked into.

I contacted local grocery stores to see if they sold meat by the bulk, and if they did, I asked their prices and wrote them down. Unfortunately, in my area, there were only a few places that sold their meat in bundles, but after comparing prices with the few places I had to choose from, the winner was Sam's IGA, which is about 25 miles from my home. Sam's IGA is an additional 12 miles from where I usually grocery shop, but the savings makes it well worth the few extra miles.

In addition to the savings, the quality of IGA's meat is much better than my local Kroger's meat. For instance, I hate buying my chicken for fried chicken at Kroger, because the breasts are so big! However, IGA's chicken breasts are the normal size that I remember seeing as a kid growing up.

Planning Is Necessary for Any Frugal Grocery Budget

Every week -- usually the evening before I go grocery shopping -- I write out a menu for the week. I create my menu based on what I already have in my pantry and deep freeze, what's on sale and what I have coupons for.

As you're writing out your menu, consider using leftovers from the previous nights' suppers for lunches. This helps you save even more money when your menu includes three daily meals and snacks for a large family.

To be totally honest with you, I don't use near as many coupons as you may, because in my area, I've discovered that even with most coupons, I can get the store brand products cheaper without the coupon, and that includes coupons I have for things that are on sale.

I do, however, use some coupons to save on the store brand products. Since I have a Kroger Plus card and free online Kroger account, Kroger tracks what I buy most, and based on my purchase history with them, they're always sending me coupons by snail mail and adding digital coupons to my online account. All I have to do to get the digital coupons is login to my account and load the coupons I want to my Kroger card. Because I buy mostly store brand products, the majority of the coupons Kroger offers me are for the store brands I buy most. It's rare to get coupons for generic brands, but Kroger offers them, and I love this!

As you're planning your menu, brainstorm to see what you could fix with the things you have in your pantry and freezer, what's on sale as well as the products you have coupons for. Personally, I love using Recipe Land when planning the menu for my frugal grocery budget. There I can enter the ingredients I want to use, and then it gives me recipes that use those ingredients. I can even find recipes that use venison, squirrel and rabbit!

Create your grocery list from your menu. Check your pantry, fridge and freezer for ingredients that you already have, and mark those off your grocery list.

Another thing to keep in mind as your writing out your menu is rice, beans, pasta, turkey and pork are usually always cheap, which makes them great for frugal grocery budgets. The internet is filled with budget-friendly recipes that use these ingredients. Also, once again, you can use Recipe Land to look for recipes by ingredients.

Using Rebate Apps Puts Cash Back in Your Pocket

As with coupons, I don't use the cashback rebate apps often since I mostly buy generic brands, but if you buy any name brand products, these apps help you save money, and in some cases you can end up with nearly-free or free products by combining discounts with other coupons. You won't save instantly at checkout, though. Instead, once you reach the minimum amount, the company gives you cash back.

The good thing about a lot of these cashback rebate apps is you can buy the product from any store. Also, some of them do occasionally have rebate offers for generic brands. The app that I use regularly has a good selection of offers for generic brands, and it is Ibotta ($20.00 minimum to cash out). If you sign up for Ibotta through my link, you will receive a $10.00 welcome bonus.

Cooking From Scratch & Canning Helps You Maintain Your Frugal Grocery Budget

It's true, canning and making things from scratch does take more time, but the money you'll save by doing this extra work really does make it all worth it. Not to mention homemade food is healthier than most prepacked foods.

Now that I've shared with you what I did to create the frugal grocery budget that saved me over $300.00, I'd love to hear any additional tips you may have for saving money in the grocery store. Tips I've not mentioned, of course. In fact, if I really like your tip(s), I just may update this article and include what you share. And I will be sure to give you credit for anything you share, which would include a "follow" link to a money-saving website or blog that you have, so when you comment with your tip(s) be sure to include the URL to your site or blog just in case.


Stay within your frugal grocery buget with Checkout 51 Offers

Frugal  Grocery Budget - Saving Star Rebates

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Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

As my thanks to you for subscribing, you'll receive a FREE PDF filled with over 25 money-saving online tools and apps! This freebie will be emailed to you immediately after you confirm your subscription to the Living Frugally newsletter. When I updated the PDF freebie with new online tools and apps that save you money, I will send out an email letting you know about those updates, and I'll include a link where you can go to download the updated version.
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Frugal Grocery Shopping

How to Master Frugal Grocery Shopping in 8 Simple Steps

Frugal Grocery Shopping
It's inevitable, we have to eat and drink to stay alive, so a trip to the grocery store each week, month or whenever you go is just a normal part of life. Sadly, the price of groceries to feed even a small family can make a pretty good dent in the household budget. The good news is that dent doesn't have to be huge. That being said, I'd like to share a few frugal grocery shopping tips that I hope will help you leave the grocery store with less stress.

1. Use Cashback Apps

Many cashback apps such as Berry Cart, Checkout 51, Ibotta, Saving Star and Walmart's Savings Catcher will give you cash back on generic brands, produce and name brands. You'll need to save your receipts, and in some cases you'll have to scan the barcodes on products.

You can save even more by combining your cashback savings with manufacturer coupons, store coupons, digital coupons and other cashback apps that may have the same offers.

2. Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk can cost more, but in the long run it does save you money. For instance, I reduced our monthly grocery bill by over $300.00 when I started buying meat bundles from IGA in Vienna, Illinois. Since my family goes through quite a bit of sugar, I also buy the Psst 25 lb. bag of sugar for $12.49 from the Harrisburg, Illinois Kroger. The 25 lb. bag of sugar lasts at least a month in my household, which is a lot longer than one or two 5 lb. bags, so in the long run, it's much cheaper to pay for the 25 lb. bag.

3. Avoid Buying Prepackaged Foods

Although it's time consuming, you'll save more money by making many foods from scratch. You know, things such as cookies, yogurt, bread, pizza dough, tortillas, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, pancake mix, cake mix, taco seasoning, onion soup mix, ranch dressing mix and chili seasoning.

The aforementioned DIY food recipes can be made in batches and stored in the pantry or freezer. Just click on the name of each to view and print the recipe as well as see how long it can be stored in your pantry or freezer.

4. Check the Bargain Bins and Clearance Aisles

The first thing you should do upon entering the store during your frugal grocery shopping trip is check the bargain bins and/or clearance aisles first. You never know what kind of bargains you'll discover, and if you happen to have a coupon for one or more items in the bargain bin or clearance aisle, you could score a freebie or get the product nearly free!

I always check out the bargain bins in my local Kroger, and I once got a 28 oz. bottle of TRESemme shampoo for less than $1.00. It was marked down to $1.99, but with my $1.00 off coupon, I got it for $.99!

5. Grow Your Own Herbs

If you've recently shopped for fresh herbs at your local grocery store, you were probably just as shocked as I was to discover how expensive they are. For instance, in my area, at the present time, .75 oz. of fresh rosemary is $1.98. As we all know, cooking with fresh ingredients is always best in regards to health and taste, but at that price, it makes one not want to buy fresh produce, right? Good news, there is a cheaper alternative: grow your own herbs! Yes, I know, it calls for a little extra time and work, but it saves money, and since we're a frugal bunch, saving money is our number one goal. 😉

Off the Grid News offers a great beginner's guide on the basics of growing and preserving your own herbs and spices. In addition, I recommend their easy potting mix recipe.

6. Plan Your Menu Based on What You Have Left and What's on Sale

Before each of my frugal grocery shopping trips, I browse the local sale ads, check my pantry, deep freeze and refrigerator. Then I create my grocery list based on what I already have, what's on sale and what I have coupons for. This takes me an hour or two, but the savings is well worth my time.

7. Add Seasonal Produce to Your Frugal Grocery Shopping List

Actually, your best money-saving option when it comes to produce is to grow your own, and then freeze and can it to use when it's out of season. However, if you don't want to mess with gardening and canning, then your next best option for saving money on produce is to buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale and in season. If they're on sale, buy extra to freeze for later use.

8. Use Coupons

I'll admit that I don't use a lot of coupons, and the reason is because I buy a lot of store brand products. I've learned that store brands are often cheaper, even after using a coupon on a name brand that's on sale. Therefore, if I can get the store brand cheaper, I will. Many times there's not much difference between store and name brand, but with some things there is a big difference, and when that's the case, I'll buy name brand and look for coupons for those brands.

If you prefer a name brand over a generic brand and there are coupons for those brands, use the coupons. When using coupons for your preferred brands, try to use them when those brands are on sale to save even more money, and if you can stack them with a store coupon and/or cashback rebate, you could end up with freebies.

One last thing I'd like to say about coupons is if you're a regular Kroger customer like me, be sure to create an online account on their website. By creating an online Kroger account, you'll be able to load digital coupons to your Kroger card. Kroger keeps track of what you buy the most, and they offer digital coupons for those brands. Yes, those brands include the store brands, so you can actually save with coupons on store brand groceries, household items and etc.! This is one thing I love about Kroger! They also, on occasion, will send you paper coupons in the mail, and those coupons also match up with what you buy the most from their store.

Do you have any frugal grocery shopping advice that you'd like to add? Leave a comment to share your money-saving grocery advice.

Frugal Grocery Shopping - Saving Star Rebates

Subscribe to the Living Frugally Newsletter for Updates & More!

Living Frugally Newsletter FreebieWhen you subscribe, you'll get notifications when new money-saving advice has been added to the site. Each newsletter will also include at least five freebies (sometimes more) and a money-saving tip. Furthermore, you'll get occasional alerts about what I believe are the BEST deals.

As my thanks to you for subscribing, you'll receive a FREE PDF filled with over 25 money-saving online tools and apps! This freebie will be emailed to you immediately after you confirm your subscription to the Living Frugally newsletter. When I updated the PDF freebie with new online tools and apps that save you money, I will send out an email letting you know about those updates, and I'll include a link where you can go to download the updated version.
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