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One of the priciest items in your shopping basket is meat. That’s why cooking vegetarian once in a while is a wise move for your budget, reports researchers from Oklahoma State University.
Consider adding some meat-free meals into your recipe repertoire. “Excellent, inexpensive sources of protein are eggs and beans,” says Mora. Quiches, frittatas, bean chilis, and cassoulets are all delicious options.
Turns out you may be tossing your grocery budget away: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans throw 40 percent of their meals in the trash. That’s the equivalent of $2,275 each year.
How to steer clear of this waste? First off, store perishable items—like produce and meat—front and center in the fridge, so you won’t forget about them. (If you know you won’t use something within a few days, pop it in the freezer.) Also, think of new ways to reinvent boring leftovers: Turn vegetables and pasta into a frittata, combine brown rice and veggies into a fried rice, and pulverize last night’s rolls into homemade bread crumbs. Get creative!
The supermarket isn’t the only place you can stock up. “Farmer’s markets and produce stands often sell in-season fruits and vegetables for cheap,” says Mora. If you have the room for storage, big box stores, such as Costco, offer bargains.
Supermarkets also unload their overstock to discount and dollar stores, so that’s another place to check out. You may be able to score steals on nonperishable items, like spices, cereals, and whole grains.
All you need is a pack of seeds, some dirt, and patience to cultivate fresh veggies in your backyard, says Mora. Don’t have a green thumb? Purchase some low-maintenance herb plants, like rosemary or basil, for your windowsill. “Fresh herbs add so much flavor to a dish,” says Mora. “And they’re packed with healthy antioxidants.”