Thursday, February 05, 2009

Saving Money On Food

I've still got those grumblers on my mind, you know, the ones from Oprah's money-saving-show message boards. It's sad how panicking and pessimism can make common sense dribble out of your ears. :)

Okay, so I'm going to address some of their questions and gripes by sharing a few more helpful hints here.

Some (defensive) women said they're into eating fresh, healthy food so how do you stockpile that in your pantry, huh?

Uhm, here's how: You grow a garden and/or you buy fresh food on sale. You read on the Internet how to freeze foods. You read on the Internet how to can foods. And you stockpile frozen fruits and vegetables (for canning or freezing) from the supermarket when those same things are not in season. You make two casseroles at a time and freeze one for later.

It's not rocket science, folks. But it does require extra work and reading and research and organizational skills, something we frugal homemakers have used for years while women who worked outside the home believed we were just clowning around on the couch. ...heh...

How do you find coupons online? You just google them. And if it takes a few minutes to fill out a survey first at a coupon site, you chalk it up to doing a little work for your savings. Fifteen minutes to save $10? Why not? That's like you're making $40 an hour. Why must everything come to us so easily? Work is a good thing. It keeps us off the streets (in more ways than one).

Where do you find the good coupons for healthier stuff? You look on food packages. You buy the Sunday newspaper for the coupon supplement. You look into refunding at sites like this and this and this.

What happens when you don't have money to grocery shop for a week and must make what you have stretch? You grab your clipboard and take a little stroll around your pantry and your refrigerator and you make a list of meals you can create with what you have.

I love to do this and since I'm always searching for excuses to skip grocery shopping (all that noise, all that effort, all that money), I make-do often. Here's a partial, sample list of what I'd probably write on my Use What I Have On Hand List:

French toast (with homemade syrup)
Homemade soup (using leftover chicken and stir-fried vegetables)
Homemade macaroni and cheese
Homemade ice-milk (love our ice cream maker...I just toss in milk and fruit, a little sugar and some vanilla, then set it spinning)
Cold cereal, orange juice, toast
Chicken and rice and vegetables casserole
Vegetable lasagna
Tuna sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Peanut butter on celery
Homemade yogurt
Fruit salad with nuts
Egg salad sandwiches
Homemade potato salad. Mashed or baked potatoes.
Homemade blueberry muffins

Ok, you get the idea. Don't begrudge making-do. That spoils the fun.

I hope you know how to make good soup. I've not bought a salt-injected can of soup in decades. Your own homemade soup is a zillion times healthier, tastier and cheaper. Start with a recipe online or just wing it. It's hard to ruin homemade soup. Practice until you get good at it.

Same goes for a white sauce and/or cheese sauce. Learn to make your own and you'll be able to make tons of creamy dishes without all the salt or fat of canned soup or sauces.

I've made my own cookbooks from recipes online and ones torn out of cookbooks. It's always ready when I am with my make-do recipes. I just have to open it.

Well, that's enough for now. If you can convince your brain that saving money is a terrific challenge, one worth conquering, well, you'll be farther ahead than you imagined. You might even keep it up when 'your ship comes in' and you're sailing pretty. :)

Need recipes? Every recipe you could ever possibly need is online. There's no longer a need to buy expensive cookbooks. (I do, though, still buy old, old cookbooks at yard sales for pennies because I love to sit and look at them--and occasionally--I've even been known to cook from a recipe inside them. :)

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."


Betty Jo said...

Love your tips and I've done these things most of my adult life, as my parents did before me. I have hardly noticed the recession to be honest. Hubby and I lived on very little income, but never thought of ourselves as poor. We've always had everything we needed with a little left over. I'll simply continue that now that he isn't with me. Granted I'll have less income, but there is only one to provide for now; so it will even out I feel sure.

It was so funny. I'm not a fashion diva by any means. I basically live in jeans and sneakers and don't have a lot of either. When moving to my son's home a friend was helping me. I was still in a fog over my husband's death, so she was reminding me of things I would need to take, and things to pack away for later. She looked into my closet and asked, "Did you realize you left some of your clothes in here?" I answered, "That's all of my clothes!" We've had a good laugh over that many times. She decided right then and there to pare down her own closet and get rid of unused and unnecessary items! LOL

Tracy said...

Debra, I love reading posts like this because it is a good reminder of ways I can stretch my husband's paycheck.

I want to go back and read through Oprah's thread, but I haven't had a chance yet. :)

Donetta said...

Hi, You have been having fun...:) Pass that knowledge on girl!
I love your tenacity

Anonymous said...

I just checked out two books at the library about how to freeze food (how long it freezes, etc) and a freezer cookbook. I really had no idea you could freeze food like that. I know it sounds silly but I lack a lot of at-home common sense so the convenience items at the grocery store make a lot of sense to me. ;)

I grew up in a home with a mom that was not involved so I cooked a lot of macaroni and cheese for me and my sisters. I wonder how many other women weren't taught how to "make do" as kids - it's a valuable lesson I'm missing right now as I'm working hard to catch up!

This is one of the things you should do if you open up your bed and breakfast - have a class for this! Again, I know it sounds silly, but I'm a visual person and do really well, really quick learning by watching and doing. It takes me A LOT longer to learn by reading.

I'm working on it, but it's a big learning curve for me. I am discovering that we are short on our budget each month the total of what we've been spending on groceries. I have been looking for ways to change this, so I appreciate your post!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I've always enjoyed reading this sort of post, Debra. My family - and that means extended family - have always been from-scratch cooks. And always cooked. I never bought prepared food until the last few years when Paul was so sick and I think I was exhausted from tIhat. Now I am cooking again I thought it was a problem that I was still cooking for five (or more!). But then I realized that I can freeze the extra as individual meals....I only use the stove once and then briefly to reheat. Labels help me keep track of when I made something. I also have always done stir fry or soup with whatever I have on hand. I have a share from a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm and freeze what I cannot use right away. I think being born in 1945 to older parents I just grew up thinking this was the way things were done. And after I married I was a SAHM, which was very satisfying to me. My daughters know how to cook and sew too, and I think I didn't realize so many young women didn't grow up with this.....So something good is coming out of this recession, but I am sorry it is coming at such a cost.....

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

I saw this post, and thought of your posts. {NOT in regard to the 'Blitz Party,' of course!}

Then I came across the book {"Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front" by Sharon Astyk} and reserved it, in my library system. And also thought of your posts.

See? You have us on a quest!

Aunt Amelia

oma aka meme said...

growing up poor was a blessing as I have learned how to live with less- much less and not go hungrey-
learing to cook from scratch helps and letting of a lot foods we add to foods- do we really need to add so much to potatoes etc. ? what ever happened to eating foods with out additions- sigh- silly old Meme - but I know it can be done- hugs from Meme

Betty Jo said...

I meant to ask before. What ice-cream maker do you have. I want to get one for my son and family and would love a recommendation. ♥