Grocery Shopping Hacks: How to Buy and Cook Meals Smarter

Erin Chase, known as the $5 Dinner Mom, helps teach a family how to save money on groceries.
6:43 | 05/06/14

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Transcript for Grocery Shopping Hacks: How to Buy and Cook Meals Smarter
It may surprise you to discover that on average, gross rceries are our third biggest monthly expense. What if a simple fix could cut your food bill in half and cut down at the time at the grocery store. The $5 dinner mom is a frugal foodie who says she can spot deals and assemble gourmet meals while saving you thousand. Here's ABC's Rebecca Jarvis for our series "Easy money." Hi. Hey. Hi, Julie. Nice to meet you, Julie. Reporter: Meet Aaron chase, the $5 dinner mom. She is on a mission to help American families eat well and save thousand of dollars while doing it. A family like the kings. Working mom, Julie, two little kids, max and lily, and husband Andrew. She hardly has enough time for a conversation. I am going to get you. Much less getting dinner on the table every night for her family. Here. A lot of times the kids end up eating pb & J. As for the veggies. I don't want green beans. Come down the mountain. Reporter: By 8:00 P.M. The kids are in bed and Julie and Andrew give up on cooking. And order pizza. Extra large, extra cheese, well done, please. Reporter: Here is the real problem. They go grocery shopping all the time but they're too busy to cook. How much time are you spending grocery shopping? Probably a good, two, three hours a week by the time you put all the different trips together. That is a lot. It is. It is silly. It's what happens. Reporter: You are putting out fires constantly. What's in front of me. Deal with it. Move to the next thing. Pretty much. Reporter: The kings have no plan. That's costing them. How much money do you thinning you are spending a week on groceries? Probably close to $200. $200. If not a little more. A lot of times I am double big forgetting what I have at home. Reporter: Plus extra for takeout. They realize this is no way to live. It's bad for their family. I do still look to cook. I would rather have efficient meals to have time together. Spending more than $200 a week on groceries. Four grocery trips. Do you think you can spend a little less time both grocery shopping and paying for those groceries? I think so. Yeah, I think I certainly can. Reporter: This is where Aaron comes in. She is about to give the king is a much-needed food makeover. One shopping trip, five family dinners, but can she do it on a shoestring budget. The makeover starts with a kitchen audit. First, look, I am very impressed. Very nice clean, well organized. Reporter: Tip one, know what you have. I love you have the red peppers. What I especially love about red peppers, you can dice them up really small, and sneak them into a red sauce and your kids will never know. They're getting their serving of veggies. Reporter: Turns out Julie had dinner ingredients hiding in her fridge. Think I was going to use them to make tacos. I forgot. I just made the tacos without them. Reporter: Tip two, don't waste food. Americans throw away nearly half of the food they buy. Costing a staggering $165 billion a year. That's over $2,000 per family. These strawberries have seen better days. Reporter: Take, $2.50, $3 throw that in the trash? No. I wouldn't. Essentially that's what we are doing here, right? Reporter: So, eat what you buy. Like this salad mix. Before it is too late. I like that this is a smaller package. Use it up. Reporter: Tip number three, your freezer is your friend. I love your freezer. It's simple. It is clean. And organized. I can see that you have chicken. Reporter: All most anything can be cooked then frozen. And later quickly thawed for dinner. How daunting is it to come home and see all that frozen chicken. Off awe awf It's awful. Missed opportunity. Start from scratch and figure something out. Tip four, don't double buy. The kings have a well stocked basement pantry. Tricky thing you have to remember what is down here. Reporter: A gold mine for our dinner plans. So we have pasta. Pasta sauce. And refried beans. Julie didn't know it, but she has half ingredients for five home cooked meals. Would you have thought to come down here before? No I wouldn't have. I would have forgot we had anything until end of dinner or something. Reporter: Then it was off to the grocery store. Time for some grocery shopping. Okay. Reporter: In search of tasty deals. Off the bat, our list was shorter. We already have pasta, spaghetti sauce in the freezer, you have the chicken. Reporter: Speaking of shopping lists. It shouldn't be a stream of consciousness. If I make a list it is random. Like whatever I thought of. I needed at that second. Its what goes next on the list. But you have really organized it. Reporter: Organize by department. Produce at the top. You walk in. In the produce section. You have everything in order. You don't have to backtrack through the store. Reporter: A list was one thing. But, could Julie chop her food budget in half? How much money do you think you are going to spend? I would guess $100. Reporter: And her shopping time done to just one trip a week. That's cheap. This right here is our money right here. We found the black beans. They're on sale too. Want to grab those too. Reporter: Found us deals in every aisle. Looks like all is on sale. Fantastic. $1.29 off for each of them. Huge. Salmon on sale for $7.99 a pound. Reporter: The thing where you want to buy extra? Yes. Something you are making regularly. Then you can cook one this week. And you can put the other one in the freezer with your favorite marinade. Reporter: At checkout we are saving a bundle. $23. The salmon went through. Talk about the $100 mark. Way under $100. Reporter: Grand total. $54.32. Awesome. Five dirnnners and extras for the freezer. That's less than $3 per person, per meal. But would Julie be able to get dinner on the table in time for a family meal with 30 minutes to cook. Two kids under foot. And a hungry husband. It's down to the wire. But by 6:30, the whole family is at the table. Cheers. Family dinner. Reporter: A dinner together worth far more than just dollars and cents. For "Nightline," I'm Rebecca Jarvis in east Chester, new York. For money saving recipes go to abcnews.com/"nightline." What's in store for one of the

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