How to Stretch Your Grocery Budget: Here’s How Grandma Did It Better

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With all that’s going on in North America, households are feeling the pinch of rising living costs and inflation. These financial pressures are creating creative ways to save money, particularly in the kitchen.

We can look to our past for tips on how to stretch your grocery budget and I guarantee you that your Grandma knew how to do it better!

Let’s learn from our Grandmas and use their classic cooking techniques to offer financial relief and make some tasty meals out of it!

An image of an elderly woman with her hands touching.
Photo credit: Unsplash/ Danie Franco

1. Eat Seasonally

Seasonal eating is an important part of saving money on groceries because that’s when food is at its peak freshness. Coincidentally, the more seasonal a food is, the lower the prices may be while it’s in its prime. 

Meal planning can help by aligning the weekly plan with sales ads from the grocery store. Matching meals to food on sale is a great way to stretch your food dollars. Here are some meal plans.

“By shopping for fruits and vegetables when they are in season, you can save more than 50% on the per-pound price.”
— Leah Ingram, author of “Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less

Two bowls with a bean and meatball soup.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Elena Leya

2. Increase the Beans

Beans and peas can be used to make lots of economical meals like chili, soups, & salads. They are filling and can be used to increase the protein.

To save money, use dry beans instead of canned beans. During the fall & winter make soups and chili and during the warmer months make bean salads and homemade hummus.

I use my instant pot to cook dry beans effortlessly. Here’s an Instant Pot cooking guide that tells you the cooking times for everything you want to make. 

Two jars with purple cabbage sauerkraut.
Photo credit: Unsplash

3. Preserve Your Food

Fermenting and canning are excellent ways to preserve seasonal produce so you can enjoy it later. It’s surprisingly easy and fun to ferment your own food.

I personally do it often and my favorite thing to make is raw sauerkraut and fermented dill pickles. Not only are you saving money but you’re getting probiotics!

Also, instead of buying soda (pop) try making some homemade kombucha! It has the same bubbly mouth feel and tastes amazing.

Paleo Sandwich Bun Recipe
Photo credit: DTW – Paleo Sandwich Buns with BBQ Pulled Pork.

4. Cook with Tougher Cuts of Meat

Historically, cooking methods were developed out of necessity, efficiency, and available resources. Past generations relied on techniques like slow cooking or braising to get the most out of leaner, cheaper cuts of meat (hunted or purchased).

These traditional methods were not just about saving money; they were about maximizing flavor, nutrition, and food longevity. 

It’s time to bring back these traditional cooking methods. Braising, for example, is a long, low-cooking style that allows less expensive cuts of meat that can be done in a slow cooker.

This method transforms tough, inexpensive cuts of meat into tender, flavorful dishes without hours of hands-on work. Classic recipes would be a pot roast. Modern-day recipes would be pulled pork and BBQ ribs.

It’s easy to braise meat using a slow cooker or speed it up with a pressure cooker (aka your Instant Pot).

Slow cookers and pressure cookers can give meals the feeling that they were tended to all day long while in reality, they practically cook themselves.

Beef stew in a bowl.
Photo credit: Unsplash

5. Batch Cook

Cooking once and eating twice is another time-honored trick of past grandmothers. Making one large meal that can be reheated, frozen for a quick meal another time, or used in other ways generates more meals without much extra work like adding roasted chicken to a salad, or using it to make chicken fried rice.

Implement batch cooking by making meals that taste great reheated like chicken and dumplings, that require minimal ingredients and equipment.

Other staples like stews, soups, and casseroles are excellent for beginners to start batch cooking by using cheaper cuts of meat, adding beans, and low-cost vegetables.

By adopting practices like meal planning, seasonal eating, adding more beans to your meals, and cooking tough meats, we stretch our food budgets. 

More Grocery Saving Tips

This article has been modified and the original version of this article first appeared on Food Drink Life.

DISCLOSURE: Not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader. Ditch the Wheat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only endorse products that I believe in.

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Carol Lovett is the founder of Ditch the Wheat and a Globe and Mail bestselling author of the cookbook, Ditch the Wheat. She has been eating gluten free since 2010. She loves all things food, natural living, and spiritual. She's also a reiki master and crystal healer.

Gluten Free Resources

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