Among the many monthly expenses that are simply unavoidable, buying groceries is one of the few that's squarely in your own control. While it's a necessity you can't eliminate from your budget completely, there are some simple ways to save a few bucks during future grocery runs.
One of the easiest ways to spend more money (and time) than you intend to at the store is to go in without a list of items you need. Spend a few moments considering the meals you'd like to make in the near future then write down exactly which ingredients you need.
Evaluate Shopping Frequency
Overbuying perishables like fruits and veggies is one of the many ways food is wasted, but going to the store every day is an inefficiency all its own. Try making a grocery trip once per week on a day you have ample time to think through what you need, how much you need and how long it will last.
Say "No" to Snacks
It might be difficult to avoid the temptation, but skipping the snack aisles can improve your finances and your diet. While it's unnecessary to completely eliminate your favorite snacks, limiting your consumption of foods like potato chips, candy and more can save you money and lead to more nutritious eating habits down the line.
Avoid Unnecessary Purchases
Similar to walking past the snack section, pay careful attention to how often you load your cart with items from special stands and end-of-aisle displays. For one, these foods are unlikely to be part of your "must-have" list, and second, there's a decent chance these are specialty items with marked up prices.
Store Food Properly
While it may not directly pertain to shopping, learning how to store the foods you do purchase can help them stay fresh longer, which can help cut down on trips to buy more. Freezing meat in freezer-safe bags, keeping potatoes in a cool area and other appropriate food storage methods can lead to more efficient use.
Find more food tips and tricks at Culinary.net.
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(Family Features) Family gatherings like reunions, picnics and potlucks can bring fun, the chance to reunite with family and, of course, food and celebration.
While catching up with family is most important for many, food typically comes in a close second. Tried-and-true favorites are welcome, but so are new additions.
This starter duo of Baked Onion, Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip along with Orange Galette with Beet Gorgonzola Salad can get the celebration going.
To help mix things up, take a break from sandwiches. Chipotle Chicken and Bean Quinoa Salad Cups are a contemporary meal or snack alternative which kids and adults alike can enjoy. For a salad that feeds a crowd, try this Tex-Mex Layered Bean Salad, a tasty accompaniment for entrees from burgers to fried chicken.
Chipotle Chicken and Bean Quinoa Salad Cups with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Prep time: 25 minutes
- 1 can (15 ounces) READ 3 or 4 Bean Salad
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 cup diced chicken, cooked
- 1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
- 1 chipotle pepper, minced
- 4 leaves Bibb lettuce
- Drain bean salad; reserve 2 tablespoons liquid.
- To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk reserved liquid, lime juice, adobo sauce, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil until completely combined. Stir in cilantro; set aside.
- In medium bowl, combine bean salad, quinoa, chicken, onions and chipotle pepper. Add dressing; toss gently.
- Divide bean salad mixture equally among lettuce cups.
Orange Galette with Beet Gorgonzola Salad
Recipe courtesy of Momma Cuisine
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
- 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Sliced Pickled Beets
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, approximately 16-by-11 inches
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 4 navel oranges, segmented
- 4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 cups mixed baby salad greens
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted if desired
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- Drain beets well; set aside on paper towels to absorb remaining liquid. Discard liquid or save for another use.
- Spray large sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. Gently place puff pastry sheet on pan. With pastry brush, gently spread 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on pastry sheet. Place about half the orange segments in two rows on top of pastry sheet, leaving 1-inch margins on all sides.
- Fold edges of pastry sheet to create border. Sprinkle 2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola over oranges. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, and basil.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on wire rack.
- Coarsely chop beets. In large bowl, toss together remaining orange segments, salad greens and chopped beets. Drizzle with remaining olive oil; toss gently to combine.
- Cut cooked galette into 12 pieces. Top with beet salad. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and pecans.
Tex-Mex Layered Bean Salad
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1 bag (16 ounces) iceberg lettuce, carrot and cabbage salad mix
- 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) READ 3 or 4 Bean Salad, drained
- 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped
- chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/2 cup crumbled tortilla chips (optional)
- small avocado, sliced (optional)
- In 3 1/2-quart salad bowl or souffle dish, layer bell pepper, onion, lettuce, cheese and bean salad.
- Mix mayonnaise, sour cream and chipotle peppers. Spread over top of salad. Cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.
- Just before serving, sprinkle top with chips and sliced avocado, if desired. Toss to serve.
Baked Onion, Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Holland-Style Onions
- nonstick cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons chopped oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, divided
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons sliced fresh basil, divided
- coarse ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil from sun-dried tomatoes or olive oil, divided
- 1 log (8 ounces) goat cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon Mediterranean herb seasoning (optional)
- crackers (optional)
- flatbread (optional)
- pita chips (optional)
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Drain onions well; pat dry.
- Spray shallow, oven-proof dish (3-4-cup size) with nonstick cooking spray. Place onions in dish. Press with spatula to flatten and crush.
- Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon tomatoes, garlic, 2 tablespoons basil and black pepper, to taste. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon oil.
- Cut goat cheese into 6-8 rounds. Arrange over onion mixture. Sprinkle with remaining tomatoes; drizzle with remaining oil. Sprinkle with herb seasoning, if desired.
- Bake uncovered 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is soft and mixture is bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Serve warm with crackers, flatbread or pita chips, if desired.