Monday, September 28, 2009

Fess up No. 8

I had a bloggy friend, Shannon, e-mail me and ask for some money-saving ideas that will help improve her grocery bill. I replied with a few ideas. Here is a copy and paste of what I wrote to her.

1. Eat
vegetarian. Meat is expensive and vegetables are not, especially vegetables that are in season.

2. Like I said, vegetables that are in season are cheaper. A way to see what is in season is looking at your
grocery stores ads. Look for what is cheaper and build a meal around it.

3. Plan your weekly meals to the T. Plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks. If you buy a bag of apples, have a plan for them. Don't buy anything that isn't going to go with your weekly menu.

4. Beware of the coupon clipping. You are getting a good deal, but you can end up with unhealthy, premade food. Food companies have the money to offer coupons. I mean did you really need those new Frito Lay Chipotle Jalapeno Cheddar Barbecue Corn Chips even if they were $2?

5. Eat oatmeal for breakfast. It is shockingly cheaper than cereal.

6. Don't fuss too much over
side dishes at dinner. You don't need the traditional protein, starch and vegetable dinner. Nothing is wrong with no side at all and just a big bowl of pasta.

7. Plan to eat your leftovers. We eat leftovers for lunch more often than not. And send them with your husband for his lunch at work.

8. It is sad, but true, but making your own bread makes a difference. I am not a pro bread baker, but making your own loaf of bread is quite simple and very cost effective. Practice while your baby takes naps.

9. And something you already know, make everything from scratch. The more you make things from scratch, the more confident you will become in the kitchen all together.

Those are my idea, but what are yours?
How do you cook well, but pinch pennies?


keely steger said...

I have to say I agree with everything you said (and have been trying to implement these ideas more and more!), but I can certainly do a better job with #3. I far too often buy something thinking we'll use it before it goes bad and then let it sit there and go bad.
I'm also getting into the habit of using my pantry stock more and more, especially when we get to the end of a pay period and realize we still have 4 days left to survive! In those cases, I can whip out a mean black bean quesadilla and we don't feel like we're deprived.

katers said...

I think the biggest thing is to do like you said and make everything from scratch. EVERYTHING. I've even learned to make my own floor cleaner and laundry soap, (it costs about a penny a load). And anything you would buy, ask yourself if you could possibly make it. Chances are you can find a recipe for it on the internet. Oh, and take out every step of processing you possibly can. For example, dry beans are cheaper than canned.

Fowie said...

Check me out, I'm like the only guy that posts on here, and I'm getting comment #2! (Unless I write my comment too slow...) You may not know it (I'm talking to the people reading the blog, not Rookie, she knows everything), but making your own yogurt is easy, cheap and tastes better than anything you can buy in the stores. I tried it once and was amazed by the quality. Now I'm hooked. And hey, what would you rather spend, $0.25-$0.50 for one cup of that yoplait garbage, or $2.50 for a GALLON of home made?

Fowie said...

dang it. I knew I typed too slow.

brittany, steve, and gabe said...

when it comes to cleaning up the kitchen (or any other area of the house, for that matter) vinegar does it all (stove top, counter top, floor... you name it!). spend about $3 on a huge jug of white vinegar and you can count on it cleaning your kitchen messes for a long time! then, you can take all of the money you saved not buying those expensive cleaners and use it to buy more food!!

Ryan and Tammy said...

Thats about the exact plan I follow. Minus buying the occassional sale item to bulk up my food storage. Or buy something cuz it sounds cool so I can creatively cook with it. I would love love love to make homemade yogurt. You should have Fowie do a guest blog to teach....

Jelli Bean said...

It's pretty funny, but I use every one of those tips in my bi-monthly meal planning *except coupons, they don't exist here. My additional tip is to plan 2 weeks of meals in advance, shopping once to save gasoline. With good storage containers and know-how, produce can survive refrigeration this long without wilting or going bad.

Melanie said...

Menu planning and cooking from scratch - I give a big shout out to those two items that save my bacon on my grocery bill every month.

Evelyn said...

One thing I always do that helps with budget is buying chicken on the bone. The price is cheaper per pound and with a whole chicken I can get 2 meals plus 1-1/2 gallons chicken stock (now free and doesn't have to come out of the budget for making soups/flavorful rices etc) 1st meal roast chicken with vegetables, 2nd meal chicken salad for lunch or enchiladas, chicken tacos,chicken spaghetti, pizza topped with chicken etc. with shredded chicken meat left on the bones and then throw the rest of the bones/carcass in a crockpot, cover with water and give a splash of apple cider vineger (1 teaspoon or so) and cook on low for 20-24 hours and strain for chicken broth. I usually fill glass jars I have around the house with 2 cups stock each or, to take up less room in the freezer, fill ziplock bags with 2 cups stock each and remove any air inside and freeze lying flat (also thaws quickly because of high amount of surface area exposed. :)

the straz fam said...

The previous comment about using chicken on the bone for so many things sounds fabulous, but I always just buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. Why? I guess I am a little lame (and a little lazy) and I don't know how to cook a whole chicken and then use all the parts. Or do you cook it the same way as you do breasts? I am a lost cause.
Hey, maybe you could do a series of posts about how to use an enitre chicken and even make the chicken broth. That would be me at least!

Marie said...

I'm totally going to push the coupon thing because I think that it actually does save a lot of money and doesn't always have to be for the crappy, premade stuff!

Right now is especially a good time to do coupons because it is the start of fall and all the baking goods go on sale...chicken broths, stuffing mixes, canned vegetables/fruit/beans, etc.

cat+tadd said...

Oh I just let my mother in law cook for me and buy all the groceries. Simple.

Beth said...

This is along the lines of meal planning, but I like to make as many meals ahead of time as possible. On a lazy Sunday, I'll make soups and casseroles and breads, seal them airtight, and then stick them in the freezer. Then, on any given 'bad day at the office, no energy to cook' evening I can just pull one out, thaw, and reheat. Voila! No need to spend money on crappy processed foods, or have to push myself to spend an hour in the kitchen. :)

natthefatrat said...

I love this! We don't have chips or cookies at the house, and that really cuts back on my grocery bill (and our waistlines). I've just started cooking all our meals from scratch and I'm still at the point where I'm not sure what I'm doing so it's a little more expensive. There are just two of us, so I'm getting the hang of leftovers and freezing extra portions and the logistics of planning. I'm hoping there's a learning curve. I'm definitely taking notes here!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for tips rookie & everyone else who posted. This is something that I am seriously trying to conquer as my hubby was laid off and now we are living off of one income. I will definitly take all the tips to heart.

by M said...

I'm all about soaking in your good tips...mostly because I've tried some of them and they work. How about we have a bread making day to square away my goal of making bread and no longer buying bread?
Oh and here's an idea for a post. We're completely stuck for quick but healthy lunch ideas. Sometimes we have leftovers to take and some days we don't. We're sick of PB&J's. Any suggestions?

Nat The Rat said...

M, I swear by oatmeal for lunch (like Rookie swears by oatmeal for breakfast). When I was working I'd take a ziplock baggie with a half cup of uncooked oats (I like rolled oats NOT quick oats) and then when it was lunch time I'd toss it in a bowl, fill with water just to cover the oats, then nuke for a minute and a half. Then I'd add a ton of extras, like berries, banana, granola, nuts, and always always cinnamon, plus some rice milk that I kept in the office fridge. Filled me up for hours and, depending on your toppings, pretty dang cheap. And healthy!

Nama said...

I always menu plan, which keeps me (mostly) on task at the grocery store. And I look for recipes that you can make with canned foods, which are so cheap. I have a taco soup crockpot recipe that's mostly canned food, so it's a cheap and delicious meal!

Sarah said...

I have found that when I make a menu and then go shopping for it I spend more. I usually go shopping - buy the produce and cuts of meat that are cheaper and then make a menu.
One big money saving - make your own salad dressing. Tastes better and is cheaper!

Anonymous said...

Being a student, I do not have much money, so I have to make every dollar count at the store!

1. I cook most everything myself.
2. I stock up on staples when they go on sale
3. I keep very limited amounts of snack foods in the house
4. I like to buy fresh vegetables and fruit in season, especially from the farmer's market when it's open
5. I use a vinegar and water solution to clean with, or full-strength vinegar if necessary. I do not buy pre-formulated cleansers.
6. I eat about 90% vegetarian.
7. I buy store brands when possible.