When times are tough, we scramble for our grocery coupons, rebates or a combination of the two to save a buck. However, there are other ways to save, too. The key to buying smart is to have a core list of items, preferably those that can be a part of healthy meals and last for a few servings. Make a list with five items and get creative by using a vast assortment of recipes with the same key ingredients and generating some new grocery list ideas. Here are five items that are currently on our grocery list:
#1 Tomato Sauce
Pork chops, baked ziti, chili, stew, soup, chicken cacciatore, pot roast–tomato sauce can be used to make just about anything on your grocery list. Try cooking up a crock pot Italian sausage with tomato sauce or some pork chops in tomato sauce, for two filling and delicious dinner meals.
#2 Rice and/or dry pasta
Rice is a versatile food that can be enjoyed in tons of different dishes. Whether you like basmati, brown, jasmine, or traditional white, rice works great as a side dish or entrée such as a risotto. This starch can also be used as dessert in a dish like rice pudding, paired with cinnamon or raisons for a delicious kick. Both rice and pasta can be used to add some texture into casseroles and soups. Using whole grain noodles and veggies, you can make a great stir fry dish for a healthy meatless entrée. Pasta takes little time to cook and can be topped off with a number of sauces or salad dressings to make hot or cold entrées and side dishes.
#3 Ground meats
Whether it’s beef, turkey, chicken or a meat alternative, it is good to have something with versatility that the entire family can enjoy. From burgers to meatballs, to pot pies, this can be used to make a variety of healthy meals or can remain frozen until ready to use. Any time that grocery stores offer special or bulk prices, consider it an investment that will create many future meals for your family.
Eggs are a common staple in nearly every home, providing large amounts of protein and a burst of flavor to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Scramble up some eggs for a filling breakfast, hard boil eggs for a snack, add egg to a stir fry dish or make quiche for dinner, or bake with eggs for a scrumptious dessert.
#5 Dried beans
Dried beans are one of the most filling, nutritious, thrifty foods you will find at any grocery store. Most beans are low in calories, sodium, and fat but high in fiber. Use beans as an alternative to meat in your entrées to save a few bucks, or couple beans with cheese and rice for a Mexican-style dish. If you want the best buy, buy beans in the bulk section of your grocer, then store them and use as needed.
Stock your kitchen so that you can make a great meal at a moment’s notice. Keep your eyes peeled for these five items in the grocery store (and grab ‘em when they’re on sale) and you’ll always have the ingredients to prepare wonderfully delicious, versatile, yet budget-friendly meals.