Grocery Bills Reduced

by Rachel

I have a great tip for reducing grocery bills. A few months ago, I started to notice that a I had a lot of ingredients and condiments in my refrigerator and my pantry that never got used and either sat there collecting dust or went bad. I decided to come up with a short list of meals that were easy to make and I would only buy ingredients for those few meals. This would allow me to really stock up on an item if I saw it on sale because I knew I would be making a meal with it many times. I also picked meals that used many of the same fixins to further ensure nothing goes bad. Here are some sample menus. Note: I only list the main course. I get canned veggies and fruits in bulk and add one to the meal along with a piece of whole wheat buttered bread if the meal is on the small side. Also, I feed two people (one vegetarian) with these menus.

  • Canned Health Valley mild vegetarian chili topped with sharp cheddar and sour cream. Serve with cornbread muffins made from scratch.
  • Soft or hard-shell tacos (really two different meals) made with Fantastic Foods vegetarian taco filling (yummy!), sharp cheddar cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream.
  • Macaroni and cheese made with homemade sauce made with sharp cheddar cheese, milk, flour, and butter. I sometimes add some cheap fish sticks.
  • For a cheese pizza, start with Jiffy pizza crust (takes 5 minutes to rise and costs about 70 cents), mozzarella, sharp cheddar cheese, and marinara.
  • Spaghetti-Pasta, marinara, topped with some parmesan
  • Fettuccini Alfredo made with with white sauce made from butter, parmesan and milk (or cream if I'm splurging)
  • Campbell's or Health Valley Minestrone Soup in big bowls, topped with parmesan cheese
  • Salad made with iceberg lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese, misc. veggies
  • Bean burritos made with vegetarian refried beans, salsa, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream
  • Tuna Melt/Grilled cheese made with tuna salad (optional), sharp cheddar cheese, wheat bread, grilled Tomato Soup (THE cheapest and most delicious soup)
  • Omelet made with 4 eggs, sharp cheddar, herbs, misc. veggies served with Iceberg salad

Obviously, the shopping list is short and it is pretty healthy. I do use a lot of cheese, but I limit the portion to just what I can really taste in the food. Using the same menu has let me eliminate the tedious task of planning a weekly menu and figuring out all the food and ingredients I'll have to buy. Now, I just put a magnetic shopping list on the refrigerator and when I use the last of something, I write it on the list. When five or more things are on the list, I shop.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to

Take the Next Step:

  • Get cash back on the groceries you buy. Checkout 51 can show you how!
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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