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Stretching the Winter Food Budget

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Have the holidays left you tapped out, stressed and dreading the next credit card bill?  Did Christmas dinner and New Year’s revelry stretch your budget beyond the limit?  Maybe you can ease into the new year by using some simple tricks to become more frugal in these winter months.

Here are a few ideas, many handed down from our grandmothers:

Eat from the freezer, oldest dated items first.  Here’s a Cooperative Extension Service resource on how long food can keep in your freezer.


Eat from your pantry, oldest dated items first.  Use up what you’ll need to replenish later from bulk food bins. Again, make sure to clear out anything over a reasonably current expiration date.  Use dried herbs and spices to keep things from tasting boring.

Check for deals on preserved/canned soups and vegetables from your grocery store or food cooperative.  They may be clearing out preserved foods to make room for new stock.

Make soup.  If you’ve saved broth, this is an easy and low-cost way to stretch a meal budget.  Here are some favorites from other bloggers:

Clean the Kitchen Vegetable Soup by The Green Phone Booth

Easy Juicer Pump Minestrone by Mindful Momma

“I Don’t Have Time to Make Soup” Soup by Spit That Out!

Chipotle tomato soup with bread

Cook big, then freeze half for next week.  Stretching your cooking into two casseroles instead of one can save you money as well as co0king time.

Eat less meat.  Whether or not you fully participate in Meatless Mondays, your family will probably not notice if you reduce the amount of meat in entrees.

Get creative with grains and legumes.  Whether you’re introducing your family to quinoa or bringing back the humble kidney bean, these can be very filling additions to a family meal.

Drink water at some meals.  We all know the health benefits of this, so mealtime can be a frugal time to put this into practice.

What other tips are you using to stretch your meal budgets this winter?  Please share in the comments below.

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