Perhaps you know the feeling.  You have grocery shopped carefully, choosing lower priced store brands and sale items.  You have not loaded up the basket with packaged, over-priced and over-processed “foods.”  And you only allowed yourself only one non-food item splurge – a $4.99 magazine.

Confident that you have stuck to your grocery shopping budget, you head over to the checkout stand.  But as each item passes the scanner, you watch the checkout total ratchet up, and up, and . . . up.   Your budget number appears, and disappears.   And your cart is far from empty!

With rising prices, it is getting harder to meet the family grocery budget.   Here are a few ways to trim  down that bill – without clipping coupons.

Buy Frozen Vegetables

Compare fresh produce prices with frozen.  The asparagus may be “on sale” for $2.50 a pound in the produce aisle, but might be cheaper in the freezer aisle.  Watch for the frozen veggie sale, and stock up on frozen peas, green beans and other vegetables.

Don’t Shop

Once a month or so, don’t shop. Or at least don’t buy all of the things you would normally.  It is amazing what gets stockpiled in the freezer and pantry.  Use up that nearly empty box of penne pasta by combining it some other pasta, and adding that leftover frozen chicken breast, some cherry tomatoes, frozen broccoli and shredded parmesan.  When you think you finally need to go to the grocery store, think again.  This is when you can get really creative.  Yes, some of the meals might be a little strange, but as long as you are getting a balanced, nutritious meal, it makes sense.  I did this last week and saved $100 on my weekly grocery bill.

Make Breakfast for Dinner

Kids love mixing it up.  A few times a month, try serving breakfast for dinner.  A crustless quiche with vegetables, or whole wheat pancakes with fruit compote makes a delightful dinner.  These meals are inexpensive to make and a nice surprise at the dinner table.

Make Friday Pizzas

Look in the refrigerator.  I’ll bet there are some leftovers there – parts of meals that seem to go with nothing.  Rather than letting them languish there, stretch them into another meal by turning them into “pizzas.”  Chop up that leftover ham or meatball, and gather the leftover veggies.  Give each person their own flatbread, and let them top it with the food they enjoyed during the week.  Then sprinkle on some shredded mozzarella or cheddar, and bake at 450 degrees for 5 or 6 minutes.

Sticking to a grocery budget can be challenging.  But by adjusting some eating and grocery shopping habits, you can trim your grocery bill, and still feed your family better.

So how do you trim your grocery bill?  Please share!

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