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1. Plan Your Weekly Meals;
Before making a grocery list, write down meals you want to make this week. Buying for the week means you’ll make fewer shopping trips and buy only the items you need.
Here are some basic tips for creating your menu and grocery list:
  • See what you already have. Look in your freezer, cabinets, and refrigerator. Make a note of what you currently have on hand. You can save money by using these items in the upcoming week’s meals. A favourite of mine is to make soup with any leftover veggies at the end of the week

  • Create a worksheet to plan your meals. The Create a Grocery Game Plan Worksheet created by Choosemyplate.gov is excellent for planning your week and figuring out what items you may need to buy.
  • Create a list of recipes to try.Find new ideas for healthy and low-cost meals based on what you have on hand, foods your family enjoys, and foods that are good buys. Check out healthyfoodguide.co.nz or https://www.foodinaminute.co.nz/ for fabulous meals that are quick and won’t break the bank
  • Visit healthy recipe sites for inspiration.Search recipes by ingredient using https://www.foodinaminute.co.nz/ or http://www.supercook.com/#/recipes to help with healthy meal planning, cooking, and grocery shopping. Be sure to include some family favourites along with the new recipes.
  • Think about your schedule. Choose meals you can quickly prepare when you don’t have a lot of time. Save recipes that take longer for days off. You also can make meals in advance to heat and serve on your busiest days.
  • Plan to use leftovers. Think about larger recipes with enough servings for multiple meals. This can reduce the number of ingredients you need to buy, and save you time preparing another meal. 

2. Make a Grocery List
Stay organised with a grocery list to avoid buying items you don’t need.

  • Use your list of weekly meals. Create a list of foods and beverages you will need to buy to make the meals in your weekly plan. Don’t forget to include foods like fruits, vegetables, and milk that might not be part of a recipe but are basics for healthy eating.
  • Organise your list. Make shopping quick and easy by organising your list into different sections or food groups. For a free template, try the Create a Grocery Game Plan: Grocery List.
  • Add foods as you go. Keep an ongoing grocery list in your kitchen or on a free mobile app, and add items as you run out. Some mobile apps allow you to sync grocery lists with others in your household.

3.      Save More at the Shops:
The smartest shoppers know that saving money is more than luck. When shopping for groceries, it’s about having a game plan and making intelligent decisions about what to put in your cart.

  • Ask for advice. Grocery stores, ethnic markets, dollar stores, can offer good deals. Ask friends and family where they shop and find the best bargains.
  • Eat before you shop.Grocery shopping hungry can lead to impulse buying and unhealthy food choices.
  • Read the sales flyer.Sales flyers are usually released mid-week and can be found at the store’s entrance, in the newspaper, or on their website.
  • Use coupons– but only for items that you know you’ll use. If you don’t need an item right away, save the coupon and see if it goes on sale.   
  • Look up and down for savings.Stores often stock the priciest items at eye level. You can save big by looking at the upper and lower shelves too.
  • Check for store brands.Most stores offer their own brand of products that often cost less than name brands.
  • Grab from the back.Stores typically stock shelves from back to front, placing the newest items behind the older ones. Reach in the back for the freshest items especially in the produce, dairy, and meat aisles.
  • Think outside the store.Farmers markets and farm stands can be great options for picking up fresh produce at a discount.  

4. Read the Food Label

Food labels tell you the nutritional content of a food item. You can compare two different items by using the Nutrition Facts label to choose the healthier option. Check out https://www.nutritionfoundation.org.nz/nutrition-facts/nutrition-a-z/food-labelling for more info

5. Kitchen Timesavers: Try these kitchen timesavers to cut back on time and make less work for you. By taking the stress and hassle out of cooking, you’ll have more time to enjoy it and to spend with your loved ones. 

  • Organise your kitchen.Keep frequently used items such as cooking oils/sprays, spatulas, cutting boards, and spices within easy reach. This will save you from having to search for them later.
  • Clear the clutter. Before you start cooking, clear off your counters. This allows more room for prep space.
  • Chop extra.When chopping up veggies for a meal, chop more than you need. Take the extra, place in a reusable container and freeze. Then next time you need it, you can skip a step.
  • Have everything in place. Grab all ingredients needed for your meal – chopped vegetables, measured spices, and thawed meats. It will be easier to spot missing items and avoid skipping steps.
  • Double your recipe.For your next casserole or stew, try doubling the recipe and freezing the extra. You’ll save time and make cooking next week’s dinner a snap!
  • Clean as you go. Fill up the sink with soapy water and wash the dishes as you cook. It’ll make clean up go much smoother!
  • Save some for later. Freeze leftover soups, sauces, or gravies in small reusable containers. 

6. Cooking for Your Family:
You can easily prepare foods for a large family without spending a lot of money. Try these tips to save time, money, and stress when making meals for your friends or family.

  • Keep it simple.Healthy and creative meals don’t have to be complicated. A simpler menu will usually cost less money and will be easier to prepare in the end. 
  • Allow your family to help.Divide jobs among family members. Remember kids love to be in the kitchen! With help, you can get more done and have more time to enjoy with your family.  
  • Stretch recipes by adding ingredients. Get more servings out of your favourite recipes Add rice or beans to soups or stews, frozen vegetables to pasta dishes, or beans to burgers to serve more meals.
  • Options for the holidays. Try having a holiday brunch. Breakfast foods like eggs are less expensive and make a great protein for the main dish.  
  • Make it a potluck. Potlucks are a great option for large family get-togethers. If you are hosting, prepare the main dish and leave the sides to the rest of the family. It creates less work for you and allows everyone to make and sample each other’s creations.

Contact Sheena Hendon Health for more ideas about looking after your family’s health

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