Quick Ways To Stretch Your Food Budget During Trying Times

There’s no doubt about it, pretty much every household is having to change the way they shop, budget, and live life. This can be incredibly trying, especially if your work hours have been cut or completely put on hold. It can be hard to plan around the current economy, as well as what the future brings. This can cause a lot of uncertainty that might make many households fear and impulse purchase in order to cut costs in the future. This alone can cost you way too much money and might leave you hurting if things don’t go back to normal any time soon. There are many ways that you can help cut the costs of the times to help suit your budget, so you can try not to stress as much.

1. Freeze Fresh Produce
Lately, there has been a lot of panic shopping. So, finding things on the shelf and in the freezers might not be the easiest option. A lot of stores are reporting that fresh produce is still in abundance though, which is good news for anyone hoping to eat healthy during self-quarantine. However, going to the store often isn’t an option if you’re hoping to stay away from the virus, which makes it hard to keep produce in the home. Instead of trying to bulk shop for items you might not be able to get, instead, consider grabbing fresh. When you bring the items home, separate them into your weekly meals then freeze the rest. You can even meal prep with the produce to make your life even easier. This will help prevent food in stores from going to waste, will save you money, and will ensure you have the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

2. Consider Soups
When it comes to making meals that will last for your family, one of your best options is soup. You can make large batches of soup for very little money, which will help stretch your food budget while ensuring you have plenty of food for everyone. Generally, you can start most scratch-made soups out for just a dollar or so, depending on the type of stock you use. However, if you want to cut this down you can make your own stocks that will help your meal plans go even further. Best of all, soups allow you to work with whatever ingredients you can find, which will definitely make your life easier. With soup, you can live off of leftovers for a few days or you can freeze whatever is left to have for a meal later on down the line.

3. Shop Restaurants
Grocery stores can be frightening places right now. People are still trying to pack themselves into small spaces to pick through whatever is left on the shelf. This can put you at risk for being exposed to the virus, which isn’t good for you or your family. An alternative to grocery shopping is going through local restaurants. Many restaurants are deciding to close down due to the virus because many people aren’t ordering out or do not have enough information about the restaurant’s changes if they are typically a dine-in facility. Due to closures, a lot of places are trying to get rid of their grocery stock to help them earn some extra income before they go out of business. Thus, you might be able to find lots of dried goods like beans, rice, flour, and more. You may even be able to get a lot of fresh produce and meats, which can’t be found in stores currently.

4. Make from Scratch
A lot of people are trying their hardest to stock up on the staples. Items like bread, pasta, and canned goods that are typically found in the home are flying off of the shelves. For many people, these foods are a part of their everyday diet, which makes it hard when they can’t purchase the items. Luckily, you can easily make many of these items from scratch. One of the best things to learn how to make is bread. You can do this with a few simple ingredients that you should be able to find on the shelves. You can also find all sorts of substitutes for the ingredients you might need to make the bread you desire. You can even make bread that doesn’t have yeast or bread with items other than flour. Another item you can make at home is pasta. This is easier than you might think too and will even improve the way your meals taste. If you have lots of fresh produce, you can also can or jar it to last you longer. These scratch-made foods might even be healthier for you and will certainly taste better.

5. Learn to Substitute
When times are rough, you might not be able to find everything you need to make your favorite recipes. Some days milk will be hard to find, while other days you might have no luck with eggs. One of the best things you can do is look for substitutes when it comes to the things you need. If you find yourself in the store and can’t find everything you need for a recipe, simply run a quick search for items that can be substituted for it. This can actually teach you a lot about cooking too and might even allow you to improve on some of your recipes. This will ensure you still get to make some of your favorite items too, so your budget or the lack of supply won’t get in the way of your favorite comfort foods.

6. Get Creative
Figuring out what to make for the family can be tough during normal times. However, when grocery supplies and budgets are low then figuring out a meal can be one of the toughest aspects of the day. You might have to get creative when it comes to your meals. For starters, you might consider cooking foods that can be transformed into other meals later on. For instance, if you make chili then you can turn this into chili dogs, tater tot casserole and so much more. Meals that can be turned into other things, no matter how creative the experimental meal might be are going to be your best bet. This will prevent you from wasting food while also helping you to save a lot of money. There are lots of ideas online that can be found simply by looking up the foods you have available, so if the creativity isn’t flowing the internet has your back.

7. School Lunches
When it comes to the kids, there are many resources available to you. One of the best options is actually the kids’ school. You can head to most schools during a certain period of time to pick up a totally free lunch for them. Many schools are also packing up breakfast for the following day too. This can be a real lifesaver if you’re running low on food and money. If you don’t know whether your school is participating, then you should still be able to contact the school district to find out. This will definitely allow you to have two meals you don’t have to worry about, so make sure to take advantage of this amazing service while your kids are at home with you.

8. Community Garden
A lot of communities have a special garden that others can access. These gardens are typically successful because people volunteer to work in them in order to take home some of the produce that is grown. Some community gardens might require you to purchase a membership though, so make sure to ask around before you fully commit. If you do find a garden that allows you to take home produce, then it should help with your budget. It is also a great opportunity to teach kids how to garden during their homeschool experience.

9. Free Delivery
Getting groceries these days is tough. It is dangerous to go shopping, especially if you have to bring your children along with you. Luckily, we live in an age where everything can pretty much be delivered to us. Many grocery stores are even extending their delivery services, which will make your life a whole lot easier. A lot of grocery stores are even waiving the fee to help keep people out of their stores so they can protect employees and others too. If you do come across a store that does charge, then look around to see if there is a free trial. For instance, Walmart charges $14.99 for their service, but they do offer a free trial that lasts 2 weeks. Some services will even do a contactless delivery to keep you safer. Just remember to wash your hands after you put all of your items away.

10. Seek Assistance
Luckily, there are many ways that you can get the help you need if you’re having trouble getting groceries or affording them. Most food banks will still be open during this time, so if you qualify for these services then make sure you pick up the food you need. Some foodbanks are even just passing out food to those who need it because most people are short on groceries now. There are programs offered by the government that can help you out too. Apart from that, you might find that the Salvation Army and other services that can help you get the food your family needs.

Times are hard for most people, but there are a few ways to ensure no one is going to go hungry. These ten ideas will help you stretch out the food that you already have, while also ensuring you keep your pantry replenished. This can also help ease the mind of those who weren’t able to go out and prep when all of the chaos began.

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