Money Saving

7 Ways to Stretch Your Meals During Financial Hardship

Elizabeth
May 29, 2020

72% of Americans report that they’re feeling some sort of financial stress due to the coronavirus crisis. Over 21 million Americans are currently out of work at the moment due to the unexpected circumstances that this crisis has forced us all to adjust to.


So, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything that’s going on at the moment, just know that you’re not alone. Stretching your food dollar is one of the easiest ways to make your income last longer. And, if you’re diligent about how you plan, it’s actually not that hard to do.


Learn how to save money on groceries and stretch your meals during financial hardship. From cheap meal ideas to saving hacks, we’ve got seven great tips for you to follow.

How to Save Money on Groceries & Food During a Financial Crisis

1. Focus on Beans & Proteins

One way to stretch your food dollar is to focus on purchasing high calorie per penny foods. These are the kinds of foods that are often cheap to purchase but are super filling and have high caloric values to keep you fuller for longer. 


Namely, we’re talking about beans, rice, eggs, oatmeal, and peanut butter. Beans and proteins such as eggs make a great starting base for many meals that are not only filling but also nutritious. This will allow you to use less while making more, essentially stretching your budget.

2. Download Cashback & Coupon Apps

Using coupons is one of the best ways to save money on groceries. And, rebate apps for groceries are so easy to use nowadays that it simply doesn’t make sense not to include them in your arsenal of budget grocery shopping tools.


Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Receipt Hog are all great apps to check out. Find the one that works best or your lifestyle, spending habits, and schedule. If you find these apps too difficult to keep track of then simply download a coupon app like the Coupons.com app that’ll provide you with lots of great deals for savings on groceries.


3. Find a Local Food Bank

If you’re not able to make ends meet and are struggling to pay for groceries, try searching for your local food bank. At the moment, agricultural tariffs and recent shutdowns mean that many food pantries have an excess of food. Feeding America has a great resource to search for a food bank near you.


On top of that, you can apply for SNAP benefits that will allow you to receive the aid you need to feed your family. If you go this route and need to stretch your meals, try purchasing canned foods that will last a while in the pantry and the proteins and calorie-rich foods mentioned above.

4. Throw It All Into a Soup

Most of the time, we’ve got a lot more laying around in our pantry than we realize. Chances are, you’ve got a few cans of vegetables in the back of your pantry on top of a few other leftovers in the fridge you can use to make a tasty soup.


To really stretch your meals during financial hardship, try using leftovers and random ingredients you have from the week to make a fresh, tasty soup or stew each weekend. Throw in some pasta, rice, and any leftover meat you have from the week and you’ll probably whip up a tasty recipe you’ll be dying to make again.

5. Plan Your Meal Menus

Planning your menus is similar to budgeting in that it gives you a great snapshot of what you can expect to spend on groceries each week or month. Not only is this helpful nutritionally, with studies showing that meal planning can lead to a healthier diet and a lower risk of obesity, but it’s also helpful in budgeting for saving cash on groceries. 


Start by taking a look at the kinds of deals that your local grocery stores are offering on certain foods and produce. Then, plan a menu based on the cheapest options for food choices. When you go to the store, go with your meal plan in hand and only purchase the food on your list.

6. Get Rid of Sodas and Alcohol

In most of the country, people have access to free drinking water at home. Take advantage of this and get used to drinking water! It’s healthy, especially as we head into the summer months when you require more hydration. And, it’s a great way to avoid overeating so you can stretch your meals even further.


Forget about the sodas, alcohol, and perhaps even the coffee and you’ll find that drinking water eventually makes you feel great. And, you can save hundreds of dollars a month on your grocery bill.

7. Split Bulk Purchases

US News points out that if you save ten cents on staple food items in bulk, you can potentially save up to $36.50 per year. If you don’t have a family large enough to make bulk buying worth it, or simply don’t have the cash on-hand to pay for bulk items, try teaming up with a neighbor, friend, or another family member. 


Buy in bulk and split the goods and costs. This is helpful if you have two to three other families who are looking to stretch their money and save more on groceries each month.

How to Save Money Easily Each Month

Instead of having to work hard to stretch your hard-earned money each month, you should be able to spend with a card that works hard to earn you money.


Our FDIC-insured 100% free Cheese Debit Card can earn you a lot with its cashback and saving bonus. Saving money doesn’t get easier than that, which means you’ll have lots of extra cash left over to work with when you’re budgeting for groceries and stretching your meals each week. 


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