Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Tips

What makes this funny to me is how much I've changed since I wrote this stuff...... The most obvious is the "chicken thing" and that whoo hoo! now I have a convection oven!

Save Money on Cooking and Eating


  • Eat less meat.

I don't buy meat in the meat department at the grocery store.  I used to buy things like hot dogs and sandwich meat, and I bought some meat from the frozen food section, but the few times I have gotten "fresh" meat, I always screw it up, and it's too expensive to screw up.

  • Become a vegetarian.

Being a vegetarian is expensive.  Fresh produce is as expensive as fresh meat.  And meat substitute is a lot more expensive than the meat.  I am all about everyone becoming a vegetarian but it is not a money saver.

  • Eat leftovers.

Believe it or not, this is something I am horrible about.  I am getting better, but I give a lot of leftovers to the dog.  She loves it, but I wish I planned better.

  • Cook large amounts and freeze extra for busy nights.

Great advice! 

  • Scrape out food jars to use the last little bit.

Doesn't everyone do this already??

  • Cook from scratch.

I think we all know this is a money-saver, but it's not always easy.

  • Never eat out.

There is an exception to this in my family: Chinese food.  I can't fix it, I'm not going to try and they do such a good job of it and we can all enjoy a nice dinner for less than $20 when we have that craving. 

  • Eat from your stocked pantry.

Again, stating the obvious.  But I don't buy food to keep in the larder just to have it in there.  That doesn't make sense to me.  I buy food when it's a grand deal and store it in the pantry.

  • Bring lunch from home (it's worth it to invest in proper containers).

This as always been good advice, if it's practical to do so.  Some places just don't have the facilities to make it worth while.  On my last job, we didn't have a microwave, just a toaster oven.  So the meal options were slim.  I got tired of cold sandwiches and toasted sandwiches and room temp sandwiches.

  • Eat less. The average American eats too much.

This is true, but if I eat less, I'm miserable.  And it puts me in a foul mood and makes everyone around me miserable.  And I'm unproductive.  Meals are a good investment if you make wise choices.

  • Don't use the vending machines at work.

They are full of junk, but if they keep you from being truly hungry, then it's not going to break the bank if you buy a pack of crackers and a coke for $1.  It's a bad habit, so I recommend not doing it every day, but the food in the vending machines are cheaper than fast food and not much more expensive than if you'd brought the same snacks from home.

  • Always have a meal plan. Always.

Good idea in theory, sometimes it's hard to follow in reality.  I have a flexible meal plan.  We have a list of foods we all agree on, and we usually stick to them.  But it's not written in stone, and if I find a great deal on chili then we have chili twice in the meal plan instead of once.

  • Keep soup starter jars in the freezer. A little leftover this, a little leftover that. Nothing is wasted.

I literally don't have room in the freezer for this.  Besides, I don't make soup.  I warm soup from cans.  I am more of a casserole gal.

  • Get creative with leftovers. Concoct new recipes, so nothing is wasted.

I actually do love doing this kind of thing.  I try not to have leftovers, because most of the time, they are just shoved to the back of the fridge (because of that meal-plan!) but when I clean out the freezer, I love to be creative.  I've never had anything turn out bad enough we couldn't eat it!

  • Base most of your meals on rice or beans to cut down on meat consumption.

We don't *do* rice much.  I've tried to use it to stretch meals out, but it is a lot of trouble to make and I don't like it very much.  I use a lot of TVP but don't tell my family!

  • Look for events that entertain and feed you at the same time. Church socials, shopping at Sam's (think about those free samples)

I bought 4 tickets to a pancake breakfast fund-raiser and we had a blast!  I highly recommend doing something like this!  I have never gone to one of the many spaghetti suppers the churches throw around here.  I make pretty good spaghetti fast and cheap at home.  However, here's a big confession.  I have taken myself and my son to the movies right after school.  They have free popcorn and drinks and free refills.  That will be our dinner and it's only $7.  I know, I'm the worst mom in the world, but I don't do it every day or even every week.  We did it once on accident (went to the movies after school, and filled up on popcorn and didn't want dinner!) and I thought it really wasn't a bad deal!

            However, I feel that taking the free samples at Sam's without the intent to purchase is the same as stealing. To say, "I'm skipping dinner and going to Sam's instead" is immoral.

  • Don't drink soda. Drink water!

And not the bottled-kind, either

  • Make your own jello cups (or applesauce cups, or pudding cups) for lunches and snacks.

I assume they mean make your own instead of buying the snack-packs.  Which is the same concept of taking your own lunch and we've already covered that!

  • If your kids complain about generic cereal, put the generic in a name-brand box. They'll never know the difference!

I would never do this.  My kid doesn't not complain about generic cereal.  If he did, he would not get cereal.  He would be served oatmeal (which he doesn't like).  If you do this kind of thing, you are teaching your kid to whine and think that name-brand is better.  If your kids complain about generic cereal, then don't buy it for them.  Period.

  • Use Angel Food Ministries if you have one in your area.

And if their prices are low.  You might end up with a freezer/pantry full of food that you wouldn't normally buy.

  • Rear your own chickens.

I'm not going into this too much.  I can't raise chickens where I live.  I don't know if they mean to get them for the meat or the eggs.  Either way, I buy a dozen eggs about once a month for about $.10 each.  We don't eat eggs, but I do use them in recipes and baking.  I buy a whole chicken if it's less than $.50/lb or chicken legs and thighs if they are less than $.40/lb.  After a little researching, I found that processing plants make a profit of $.16 per bird.  So, I'm paying $.16 for someone else to incubate, feed, raise, medicate, store, kill and dress my broiler?  Uh… bargain.  Same with the eggs.  I am sure it's a lot of fun to find fresh eggs in your back yard with some fat, scary hen sitting on them. 

  • Join a freezer club. Get together with like-minded people to exchange meals for your freezers. It's cheaper to prepare a lot of one meal and split it up, than to prepare a bunch of different meals.

I don't think this is a good idea.  Your idea of "good food" or "clean environment" might be different than mine. 

  • Make your own baby food.

If you have a baby, that's a good idea.  I don't remember buying baby food for my son, but I'm sure I did. 

  • Always take a snack and bottle of water wherever you go. You won't be tempted to stop for expensive fast food or drinks.

I think this has already been covered. 

  • Grow your own produce. No room? Try a square foot garden Or use pots on the patio.

Room isn't always the issue.  I've killed more tomato plants than I like to admit.  So, I don't eat tomatoes.  Peppers and cucumbers are actually cheap during the summer.  That's about all I'd feel like growing.

  • Freeze, can, or dehydrate your produce.

Canning is too much trouble and expense.  I'll just buy canned vegetables.  Freezing is a good idea.  But I can still buy frozen vegetables when I need them (and sometimes $1/bag). 

  • Cook with the crockpot to avoid using the oven, which warms up the house.

Until recently, I rarely used the oven.  My oven was horrible and nothing turned out good in it.  So I used a crock-pot and my toaster oven a lot.  I love the crock-pot because it is cheaper but you just can't go wrong using it!

·         Use a convection oven to accomplish the same purpose.

These are an investment and I haven't gotten one yet.  If I did a lot of baking, I might consider it, but the payback now is too long, if ever.

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