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5 Rules to Lower Your Summer Grocery Budget—with recipes!
I have to admit that in our house, we tend to overspend on food during the summer. It’s just so easy to grab something on the way home from the pool to feed my hungry crew!
We are always on the go, meeting up with family, enjoying the weather, attending vacation bible school, and going back and forth between the pool and the amusement park.
But even when we aren’t out and about, the change in our schedules for the summer usually leads to more snacking and higher grocery bills.
But it doesn’t have to!
If you stop fighting the season and instead embrace it, especially when it comes to grocery shopping, cooking, and even family gatherings, you can significantly cut down on how much you spend on food.
Follow these 5 rules for inexpensive summer cooking—complete with a delicious recipe to get you inspired to create your own way to implement the rules—and start reaping the savings at the checkout line!
1. Fire up the grill.
I am a fan of grilling year round, even in the snow and rain. But most people save the grilling just for summer, and I applaud them for it! Why? Because food fresh off the grill is a delicious way to take advantage of great weather and outdoor gatherings.
If you don’t normally grill, you have the most savings to gain by pulling your grill out because it will force you to get out of the same-old-same-old recipe rut, hunt for new foods to try and get you excited for eating at home.
Nothing keeps me out of the fast food line like looking forward to grilling at home!
House of Hermens – Asian Chicken Marinade
2. Be creative with leftovers!
Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Birthdays, and cookouts—oh my!
Summer is usually jam-packed with parties and celebrations, and they always include food. Whether I am preparing something tasty for a potluck or I’m going to my local chili cook-off, I always end up coming home with leftovers.
And most of the time, my family is NOT at all interested in eating those leftovers, so they tend to go to waste.
To help keep the summer grocery trip costs down, consider using your leftovers in creative ways. For example, instead of putting leftover grilled meat on a salad (booooring), consider making sandwiches out of it, or tossing it into mac and cheese (yum!).
This featured recipe uses leftover chili to make grilled cheese! Yum! This sounds sooo much better than just a bowl of leftover chili!
Mommy Ways To Win – Grilled Chili Cheese Sandwich
3. Cook from the garden.
If you are lucky enough to have a green thumb and a garden already blossoming in your yard, USE IT! It is so easy to just let the delicious herbs and tomatoes sit there waiting for the perfect recipe, but you should be using them all the time!
If you don’t have a garden, summer is your opportunity to take advantage of the bounty of other people’s gardens at farmers markets and at the grocery store. Fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables are really inexpensive this time of year. Eating seasonally and locally will definitely cut down on that grocery bill.
Everything needed for this featured recipe I grow in my own small garden (except for the lime and salt), making it a very inexpensive recipe. But even if you don’t have a green thumb, you will find that all of these ingredients will be much cheaper this time of year.
Hungry Enough To Eat Six – Pico de Gallo
4. Make on-the-go meals.
Fight the post-pool drive through by making a cooler filled with scrumptious snacks and sandwiches everyone will love!
It is far cheaper to make food at home and bring it with you than to wait until your toddler is screaming with hunger before caving in and hitting the snack stand. And I am not talking about just PB+J, either. There are some amazing recipes out there that pack up well and will make everyone happy.
Follow rule #3 and include fresh garden veggies and seasonal fruits and you will be in business.
Who wants Mickey D’s when you could make this featured recipe?
Hungry Enough To Eat Six – Deli Chicken Biscuit Sandwiches
5. Don’t forget the basics.
When you are planning and preparing inexpensive meals, there are two things I always recommend, regardless of the time of year.
First, shop the sales.
Grab a sales flier at the grocery store or online, and tailor your meals according to what is on sale for the week. During the summer, fresh produce is a sure bet, but you can even find meat on sale—especially around Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.
Second, use Ibotta.
I absolutely love Ibotta, because it is the easiest way to coupon without couponing. There is no cutting, filing, hunting, and stressing—the app does it all for you. I check Ibotta for rebates before I hit the store to make sure I get any cash back I can on my grocery trip.
Summer doesn’t have to be an expensive season to feed your family. In fact, it can be really inexpensive if you are willing to fire up the grill, take advantage of leftovers, cook from your garden, pack a lunch that your crew will actually want to eat, and practice basic money saving skills at the grocery store. Then, you can focus on the important things like forgetting the sunscreen, fighting to get swim diapers on a wet toddler, and worrying about how much pee is actually in the pool…
Have a safe summer!