By Claire Pedersen and Lauren Effron
When it comes to making family dinners, many working parents often run into the same problem: The pantry is stocked but ignored in favor of another pizza night.
It's a common complaint from parents juggling the demands of working full-time while running a household: Even though they may go to the grocery store on a regular basis -- or in some case, multiple trips to multiple stores -- planning out meals and then having the time to cook those meals, is difficult and sometimes food goes to waste. But in the long run, not doing that can be bad for the family and their finances.
That's where Erin Chase, the founder of 5DollarDinners.com and author of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook series, can help. In an segment for "Nightline," Chase spent the day with a family in Eastchester, N.Y., to give them a food makeover, showing them how to get all of their groceries for five days’ worth of family dinners in one shopping trip for as little money as possible.
1. Meal Plan Based on Sales
"Take a few moments at the start of each week and piece together a meal plan with your family’s favorite meals, based on what ingredients you see on sale at the store that week," Chase said. "If chicken breast is on sale, plan one or two chicken meals that week. If chuck roast is on sale, plan a slow cooker beef meal to enjoy."
2. List Before You Go
"Write out a thorough and specific list for everything you need, and then stick to it," Chase said. "A complete list will help you avoid impulse purchases, and those 'I don’t think I have that in my pantry at home' purchases."
3. Be a Smart Shopper With Your Smartphone
"Put your phone to work for you," Chase said. "Several great grocery savings mobile apps help shoppers all over the country save big on their groceries. I recommend the Favado app for finding the best deals for certain ingredients or everything on your shopping list (it sources coupon too!), and the Target cartwheel app for easy to redeem coupons right at the register."
4. Shop Late at Night
"Take an evening stroll through the grocery store and keep an eye out for ingredients at a reduced price, especially in the meat, deli and produce departments," Chase said. "Ask the department managers if they have a specific day or time that they mark down overstock and take advantage of the savings."
5. Never Skip a BOGO deal
"Watch out for these instant 50 percent savings on all kinds of products in the grocery store," Chase said. "Buy One Get One (BOGO) Free sales are very common across multiple sections in the grocery store. By sure to get enough of the item to last you until the next sale cycle, which typically happens every eight to 12 weeks for different products and product families."