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10 ways I save money on food

February 5th, 2007 at 10:09 am

None of these items are new ideas or rocket-science, but maybe they will help someone, or stir up other ideas.

10 ways I save money on food (in no particular order)

1. Meal planning – I plan my meals a month at a time. This is a bit time consuming when I do this at the end of the month, but I think in the end it does save me time. I have been doing this for 4 months now and it seems to be getting faster since I use a few of the same meals each month. Of course the monthly meals are flexible depending on what comes up during the month and what may be on sale that week. This saves me money by not going to the store every few days – instead I go once a week. I would like to stretch that to one big trip every two weeks, but I haven’t got myself that organized yet.
2. Watch weekly store ads. I watch the weekly ads for sale items and stock up on stuff I use often.
3. I normally buy the store brand (with a few exceptions)– not name brands so coupons don’t do me much good. I will use an occasional coupon if I come across something I normally buy, but I don’t go out of my way to get a Sunday paper to stock up on coupons I won’t use anyway.
4. I don’t buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If I need a chicken breast I will buy the pieces with the bone and skin. I don’t really enjoy taking the bone and skin off (yuck!), but there is a huge price difference between the two types – especially if it is on sale. I also try to use dark meat pieces in some recipes – even cheaper.
5. I get my beef for free. My family (who are farmers) gives us a side of beef every Christmas. This is great for the budget, but not so good for the waistline since we end up eating red meat for dinner 3-5 times a week.
6. Eat leftovers! I try not to throw out any food - It feels like I am just throwing money away if I have to do this. I can normally finish up leftovers by bringing my lunch to work.
7. Soup. Once a week I make a big pot of soup. Soup is very economical to begin with and usually pretty healthy. On Saturday I made a vegetable beef soup using free beef (steaks that had been sitting in our freezer for a year), leftover veggies, leftover V8 tomato juice, and a few other items I had on-hand. It was wonderful! I freeze individual portions for my DH’s lunches – a lot cheaper than buying a packaged soup, meal or eating out.
8. Freeze meals – I don’t do the extreme once-a-month or once-a-week cooking. I tried it and it just didn’t work with two little ones running around the kitchen all day. However, I will try to make a little extra of my casserole or whatever I am making to put a meal in the freezer. Last night we had meatloaf. The recipe stated it would make 8 servings – we have 2 adults and 2 kids that don’t each much. Instead of making one loaf I split it into two and froze the second one. I now have 1 meal for March ready to go without much more additional expense – all I need is a side dish. I also freeze individual cookie-dough balls for quick fresh baked cookies – much cheaper than the pre-packaged stuff. (This also doesn’t help my waistline since I end up eating the cookie balls straight from the freezer)
9. Drinks – I try not to spend a lot of money on drinks. We don’t buy popsoda unless it is super-cheap. I also buy the girls frozen concentrated juice instead of the ready-made juice.
10. Make more things from scratch. This is a new one for me this year – I have been making brownies or cakes from scratch instead of a mix. I have also made a few quick breads, biscuits and muffins. I need to research how to make things a little healthier – maybe using whole wheat flour.

That’s my list – hopefully it will help someone. Any other tips?

Picky Eaters and Vacation Delima

January 17th, 2007 at 06:55 am

My 3 1/2 year old has been picky since she started eating solid foods. I am not sure why or how this happened - we don't eat anything too strange and we have never made seperate meals for her to encourage her to want something different (the exception is when we make something spicey). Now our 18 month old - who used to eat everything in site - is starting to follow in her footsteps. It is getting really frustrating. I don't want to eat chicken or noodles or blueberry pancakes every night! Last night we had cheeseburger soup - one of my hubby's favorite. We also made grilled cheese sandwiches because we knew the girls would probably not eat the soup. There is nothing in this soup that is offensive to a kid - hamburger, potatoes, a few carrots, valveeda cheese and topped with bacon. I put a small amount in front of each girl to have them try it. After a lot of persuasion (and a little bribery - chocolate cake) My 3 year old finally put a bite in her mouth. She started gagging at the first taste of it. My hubby was so pissed! where does a 3 year old learn to gag?

We also got a email from some friends of our asking us to go on a small vacation with them in May. Since I started working on paying off my debt the last few months I have pretty much cleared my savings acct (except for $1500) and used any extra money I have at the end of the month to go towards my car loan. We really do want to go - we haven't been on any type of vacation with the girs yet. I think we will try to go, even though the timing sucks. I don't want to interrupt paying on my car, so I hope I can shave a little money off my household budget (currently at $600 a month) to make it work. I know we can spend less in that category - I just need to do better planning (and quit buying crap we don't need).

The Grapefruit

January 15th, 2007 at 07:41 am

Grapefruits have been on sale the last few weeks so I have picked a few up each time I go to the grocery store. I am the only one that eats them, so I only pick up 2-3 each time. I like them, but I don't always have the time to cut one up in the morning. My mom saw them sitting on the counter and suggested I try eating them warm. What? are you crazy? Here is her method:
Cut one in half and cut the sections out like normal. Top with a little butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and place in the microwave for 45 seconds or so.

At first I thought it was pretty sad to put butter on such a heathly fruit, but I gave it a try anyway. Yumm-O! It was super juicy, sour and sweet. I will definately do it again.

The weekend was pretty good spending wise. I picked up my weeks worth of groceries and a few things at Sam's. Saturday my mom and I went to a wedding and I treated her to a latte on the ride down. She spent a lot of money taking my kids to Seasame Street Live last week, so I figured I should at least pay for the lattes. Sunday I had a no-spend and no-drive day. In fact I stayed in my pj pants all day. I love those days!

I am hoping to eat in for lunch every day this week. I have already said no to the bagel run this morning so I am starting off good.

I updated my budget spreadsheet up to the end of June. I was hopeing to have most of my car paid off my then, but I think realistically I will just be at the half way point of what is left. September/October is when I think it will be paid off. I really can't wait to have that payment out of my monthly budget each month. It will be like getting a raise!

Cheap Fitness

December 5th, 2006 at 07:58 pm

I sucked up the cold weather this evening and took a walk outside this evening after the girls went to bed. It wasn't as bad as I thought - the temp was actually around 40 - much better than the 20s the past few days. By doing this I saved a punch off my gym punch card ($1) and also the gas to go accros town and back.

I hate the cold weather and that it gets dark so early - this fall I worked out over 75 days straight - mostly because it was easy to do it outside.