Wolfgang Lienbacher/iStock1. Do it yourself: Grate your own cheese, clean and shred your own lettuce, and chop your own fruit salads instead of buying pricey packaged convenience items. Generally, supermarkets increase the cost of fruits and vegetables when they cut and package them.
2. Purchase sale items in bulk: When lean meats go on sale, stock up and freeze the extras or share with family and friends. Buying larger quantities at discount or warehouse stores can also cut costs.
3. Find the freezer or go canned: If fresh produce is too expensive, buy frozen or canned alternatives. Most grocery stores even offer generic brands of frozen and canned favorites. A pound of 85% lean ground beef can cost close to $4.00 while a can of black beans is a mere .75.
4. Portion patrol/proportion shift: Your budget and pantry can be devastated by portion sizes that are too large. By monitoring the portions you use in meals, you can stretch your food throughout the week and consume healthier meals. In addition use pricey meats as an accent to meals not as the main event for example skip the pork chops and cook up a pork stir fry.
5. Be a bean counter: Beans are rich in fiber, plus they're a cheaper protein source than meat. Beans bulk up salads, soups and are great in tortillas. See the recipe below for a great low cost meal idea, high in fiber and protein but low in cost per serving.
Black bean-tomatillo dip
Makes 6 servings
2 (15.5 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 (12 ounce) can tomatillos, drained, chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
3 scallions, chopped
.5 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
.5 teaspoon salt
.5 teaspoon black pepper
Combine beans and tomatillos in a food processor and process to a chunky puree. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined.
Nutrition per 1/3 cup: 102 calories, 1 gram fat, no cholesterol, 390 grams sodium, 17 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 6 grams protein.