Frugal Food Savings Tips
Americans are overweight because they
eat too much and don't exercise enough. No big news here. It doesn't help when
you go out to eat, and you get enough food to feed a small army. Ask for a
container before you begin your meal, and put the excess food away to take home.
This saves money and is much better for your health.
Brownies and Cakes
It is usually more economical to use
packaged mixes when you make things like cakes and brownies. You can always add
your own touches to make them special. For instance, one very decadent way to
make brownies is to frost them twice- first with a mint flavored frosting and
then with chocolate. Use a flavored water or club soda in place of the liquid to
change the taste of the cake. The more water you add to brownie mix, the more
cake-like the brownies. If you want them to be more like fudge, add a tablespoon
of corn syrup. Stock up on cake and brownie mixes when they go on sale, and then
Some people think they have to follow
a recipe exactly. This is not true. Many ingredients in recipes can be left out
without any substantial loss of flavor. Cut out the expensive ingredients, and
make your recipes more economical. Substitute when possible, or add leftover
items from your refrigerator. Many of the best cooks I know just use what they
have, and rarely open a cookbook.
When you open a can of fruit, save the
juice. There are many things you can do with it.
- You can freeze it and making popsicles, or you can add it to sauces or jello.
- If you add some sugar and boil it, you can make syrup.
- You can combine combine different flavors, or keep them separate. There are
both flavor and nutrients in the liquid. Don't let it go to waste.
Shopping for Food
Almost all baked goods and pastry can be
frozen. Check your area to see if you have a bakery outlet. Their prices are
almost always cheaper. Make a trip once a month, and stock up on bread, muffins,
pies and other baked items.
Buying in Bulk
You can save a lot of money buying food
items in large quantities. However, sometimes the canned goods come in very
large sizes. Don't let that stop you. After cans are opened, you can take out
what you need, and the rest can be frozen. To freeze small amounts of liquid
products, freeze them in ice cube trays and then store them, when frozen, in a
plastic bag, in the freezer. This is very convenient when you just want to add a
half cup of something like tomato sauce to a recipe. Another option is to shop
with a friend. When you get home, you can split things up.
Always make the best possible use of your
coupons. When possible use them when you can get double their value- either by
using them on double your coupon days at your local supermarket, or combining
them with another coupon. Many stores will let you use both a newspaper coupon
for their store with a manufacturer's coupon. If one store won't let you do it,
shop at a store that does.
Coupons in the Store
Always keep your eyes out for
coupons and other discounts when you go shopping. A lot of stores keep copies of
circulars near the front entrance, with the cashiers, or at service desks. You
can sometimes also find them in the different department sections of the store-
such as hardware coupons at the hardware service desk.
Before you go grocery shopping, check out the website of
your grocery store. You will find a copy of their weekly ads there, as well as
coupons that you can print with your computer. If you shop at several stores
another thing people do with their coupons is search all the grocery websites
with the coupons they have in order to find the best store to use them to double
or triple the savings.
Day Old Bakery Items
If you like to pick up day old
bakery goods, and others items put on clearance at your grocery store, shop
early. These items are marked overnight and usually snapped up in the morning.
If you don't know where these items are located in your store, ask. They are
usually in the back corner of the store.
You can buy discounted canned goods
that are dented, as long as the can is not bulging.
If you do not have a regular grocery
store that consistently has lower prices, usually called a "destination store"
because people drive out of their communities to get there, you usually save the
most money by shopping at the store with the best ads for the week and planning
your meals around the advertised specials. In our area the destination store is Winco. The prices are unbelievably lower then all the other stores. They are
expanding into other states. Watch for them.
Store brands are usually cheaper than the
same products with a brand name. Sometimes they are even manufactured by the
same company - the only change being the label. When you see store brands on
sale, it is usually a great sale. If you have the room, stock up.
Take it Back
Don't be afraid of taking back food that
has something wrong with it. If your bread is stale or oranges have mold on
them, take them back. Most stores mark their own food items, so they will know
it is their product, even if you don't have the receipt.
Milk is expensive, but to most,
absolutely necessary. If you see a sale, and you want to take advantage of it,
buy extra and freeze it. Milk freezes well. You just need to take a little out
of the container so it can expand, and allow a few days for it to thoroughly
thaw when you take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator.
Chili is a great meal. Remember that beans give
you just as much protein as meat and are more healthy and cost less. Chili is
also easy to make, and doesn't need meat to taste good. You don't need to
soak your beans overnight if you use a pressure cooker.
Make friends with the butchers in stores where you
buy your meat. Most people are social, and do not mind being interrupted from
their work to answer a few questions. Let them help you make decisions, such as
which cuts of meat make the best pot roast; or what is the least expensive cut
of meat that you can use for pot roast. You might also ask for tips on how to
tenderize inexpensive cuts of meat. Sometimes the best questions are broad, such
as "What are the best buys today, or what do you recommend?"
Nothing burns up your food budget more than
meat. You can do a lot of little things, like extending your hamburger with rice
or bread crumbs, but it is still expensive. Try and have a meatless meal at
least a few times a week. When you do buy meat, go to a warehouse type store
(like Costco) and buy it in bulk. Bring it home and split up the large packages.
Not only does it cost less that way, it is usually better quality meat.
Most people access to a Farmer's
Market of some kind. Even in the suburbs, you can find various places that bring
in fresh produce. Check what is available in your area. The prices are usually
good, and they provide more samples so you don't waste your money.
Be selective when it comes to buying
your produce. It is tempting to buy produce in pre-packages large bags, but that
can result in paying for fruit that has gone moldy or vegetables that are
rotten. You just can't see inside those bags enough to tell. You will probably
save money by selecting your fruit individually and choosing only fruit that is
in excellent condition.
Too often we think we have to make an
elaborate meal for dinner, or it won't please our families, or fill us up. Don't
over look having sandwiches for dinner. You can make them much more special with
just a little extra effort. Add a few sautéed onions, or warm the meat or
cheese. Use a special bread. Try a different type of lettuce or tomatoes. If you
have a meat slicer, you can bake your meat and then cut it up into very thin
slices for a quick and economical meal at a later time.
If you open a large jar of applesauce, and
tire of it before it is done, there are several ways to use it up. Anytime you
bake, and the recipe calls for an egg, use 1/4 cup of applesauce instead. This
won't work in recipes with delicate flavoring, but cakes, brownies and cookies
should be fine. You can also substitute applesauce for oil. A good substitute is
to exchange 1/2 the oil for applesauce.
Never throw away fruit. There are so many things
you can do with it. Just puree it, and freeze it in cubes. It can be used to
flavor grains when baking, used in barbecue sauce, made into popsicles, put in
smoothies, or added to jello.
Kids love hot dogs cut up in macaroni and
cheese. Or you can make potato boats, which are hot dogs, cut length wise and
topped with mashed potatoes and cheese.
Hot Dog Buns
When you serve hot dogs with buns, you
usually have or the other left over. Don't waste them. Leftover buns, whether
they are for hamburgers or hotdogs, make great garlic bread. Just butter them,
sprinkle with garlic powder, and brown them in the oven under the broiler.
Keeping Track of Your Leftovers
You have a much better
chance of using up all your leftovers if you can easily see what you have in
your refrigerator. Here is one idea to keep you organized. Use some chalkboard
paint on the inside of the cabinet nearest your refrigerator. Use chalk to write
down all the leftovers that are available. When you eat them, just erase the
entry. You are also going to save money by not opening your refrigerator door as
much as just "browsing".
Meat is so expensive, you do not want to waste any
of it. In addition to the usual soups and stews for leftovers, think about
sandwiches. If the meat is dry, try putting it in the blender to break it into
little pieces, and then mix with a small amount of mayonnaise.
Pick your meat carefully. Remember, meat is
priced by weight. If it has a bone in it, it will cost more and you will get
less meat. Try avoid buying bones, unless you plan on using them to make broth.
When you serve Spaghetti, always serve the
pasta and meat separately. You can use the leftover meat to make a quick chili
by just adding a can of beans or another meal. The pasta can be put in soup, or
you can make casseroles. If you put them together, it will remain spaghetti