A shoestring budget at the grocery store simply means you need to channel your creativity in the kitchen. A low grocery budget foils your plans of serving filet mignon regularly, but a little creativity in the kitchen gives you a few culinary cards up your sleeve. Learn to navigate the grocery store aisles with ease and frugality by capitalizing on the staples already in your pantry along with other budget-friendly kitchen tricks.
Shop once a week or less to combat impulse buys. If you're making several stops a week with just a few items each time, it's easier to convince yourself that those extra cookies or soda aren't a big deal since your total bill won't be that high. One large trip a week makes it easier to avoid those little extras.
Keep a list of your family's favorite budget meals. Refer to this list to create a meal plan for the week.
Write out a list before you head to the store based on a meal plan for the week. Look through the pantry and refrigerator as you write the list so you don't purchase things you already have on hand.
Skip meat at least one night a week to stay within your grocery budget. Replace the meat with beans or other sources of affordable protein. When you do choose meat, try less expensive cuts and marinate it for improved taste and tenderness.
Substitute cheaper ingredients in recipes or cut the amount in half for more expensive items. For example, use only half the amount of ground beef in your chili recipe to make it more frugal, or use cheaper green bell peppers instead of pricey red or yellow bell peppers.
Stock up on staples when you find bargain prices, if your budget allows. This gives you a stockpile for weeks when you need to cut back on the grocery budget.
Buy unprocessed, whole foods and make your meals from scratch. Your family eats a healthier meal and you save money on the grocery bill that way.
Save leftovers from all meals and use them, either for lunches the next day or as part of the next night's dinner. If you have leftover mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables, use them in shepherd's pie the following evening.
Challenge yourself to eat from the pantry for a week or longer. Use only ingredients you already have on hand for that week's meals. This forces you to get creative and make use of all those canned goods and frozen vegetables that are taking up space.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.