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How to win at the "Cooking on a Budget" Game

Food can be expensive. You don't have to be unemployed or a single mother to want to be careful about what you spend on groceries. Try this little game you can play to save a lot of money when you shop...

Food can be expensive. You don't have to be unemployed or a single mother to want to be careful about what you spend on groceries. Try this little game you can play to save a lot of money when you shop for groceries while Cooking on a Budget.

The game board is your favorite grocery store. You and your grocery cart move around the board wherever you want to go. The store is the 'dealer' and deals the 'cards'. Each 'card' is an item on sale. When you check out, most grocery show how much you have saved at the bottom of your receipt. Your savings are your points. If you saved $5.53, you won 5.53 points.

Save on Grocery Shopping
Save on Grocery Shopping

If the store doesn't tell you what you have saved, just guestimate. As you will see, the real reason for the game is not the points you earn but learning how to approach shopping for groceries in a new way -- to learn to 'game' the system, so to speak.

The object of the game is to only buy ingredients on sale. If you buy even one item at the regular price, you get no points for that shopping trip, no matter how much you saved.

Grocery Shopping as a Game
Grocery Shopping as a Game

How to play. Unless you are a vegetarian, 'Go' is at the meat counter. The store deals the 'cards' which are one or more meats on sale. Pick whatever meat or meats on sale that appeal to you.

Don't think about a recipe yet. You put that together as you travel through the store.

Move on to where the vegetable 'cards' are. The store will probably be 'dealing' more than one. Think of ways you can serve them. Steamed? Stewed with the meat you chose? As a salad ingredient?

Here's an example. The store deals hamburger for a savings of $2.39 and then deals carrots, rutabagas, and spinach for cheaper than they have been all season. Could you make shepherd's pie? Not unless you have potatoes and onions at home. They are not on sale this week.

If you do have potatoes and onions at home when you start the game, then you can use them, but you don't get points for them.

After vegetables, move on to dairy (or soy products if you are a vegan) and then through the other aisles. One of the ways you 'win' at this game is by stocking up on things you don't need immediately. Stock up on condiments, canned goods, frozen foods, grains, flours and more if they are on sale. If you have a coupon for something, consider it to be on sale too.

Canned Food
Canned Food

Don't forget to go to the special place the store discounts items about to go past their pull dates or have been discontinued. They often sit forlornly on a shelf somewhere at the back of the store.

When you get home, you will have an interesting assortment of food. Some you may never have cooked with before. If you don't have any ideas, there's Google and our blog. Type some of the ingredients you brought home into the blog search bar. It will bring up all sorts of recipes. You may not have the exact ingredients but you can modify a recipe a bit and create something darn tasty. Double your last shopping trip points for every meal you turn out using ONLY the things you bought on you last shopping trip.

You cannot lose at this game. You only win by more or less points. If you stick with it for a month you will have saved a hefty percentage on your food budget and accumulated lots of points. Take your points, convert them into dollars and treat yourself to something lovely like lunch at a new bistro or school supplies for the kids. This will give you the inspiration to play for another month.

The most important prize is not the bistro lunch or pencils for the kids. You have trained yourself to shop in a new way. Now you automatically keep a sharp eye out for what's on sale. Now you stock up. The game has opened you up to new ideas for creating delicious meals.

Contact us for more ideas on how to cook on a budget. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for great ideas.