Saturday, March 12, 2011

Money Saving Tips

People do actually read this blog. I know, who woulda thunk? People ask me to put up certain recipes or give my best advice on a certain topic. I've had a lot of people ask about cheap meals and methods to cut back on a grocery bill. I'm going to be totally honest...I don't coupon. I have no desire to coupon. I tried, it was a horrible experience. I don't get the process. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but *toot toot* I'm a smart person, and I just don't get it. Also, there are never coupons for things that I actually need (75% of our groceries being fresh produce). But I can offer some non couponing advice.

Let's start with wasting food. Families throw out hundreds of dollars worth of food each year. The goal is to have an empty fridge when you go to the store, and not one that needs to be cleaned out. Here are a few tips that might help:

-When buying fruit cut it up as soon as you unload the groceries. Things like pineapples and mangos that are a small chore to prepare should be cut up and stored in containers right away, especially in warm weather. I keep a fruit bowl out all the time. It helps everyone to eat more fruit when it's set out where it's visible, as opposed to a less healthy snack.

-When buying meat in bulk break it up into one pound sections, wrap and freeze. I can't tell you how many times I had to feed the dog $20 worth of salmon because I forgot about it in the bottom of the fridge. I got mad enough after the umpteenth time to set rules for myself. This is especially true for any Costco or Sam's Club shoppers. You can also brown burger or ground turkey with some onion and then freeze in one pound portions to save on time later.

-And I will beat this one like a dead horse- meal planning. I couldn't believe how much we cut down on waste when we started meal planning.

-Try a Hippie Hash. What is a Hippie Hash? You take leftovers from the fridge, or veggies that would otherwise go bad and you throw them in a pan with a little butter or oil. It's a great side dish! Or make a stir-fry. Creativity is key.

-Make stock. If ever you cook a whole turkey or chicken, strip the meat off and boil the carcass. Freeze the broth or work it into your meal plan. For us it's turkey and dumplings after thanksgiving. I always save the juices from a roast as well. You just can't beat homemade broth. You can do the same with veggie scraps. I learned this tip from my friend Jesse. Throw the ends and peelings from veggies in a storage bag and put it in the freezer. In no time you'll have enough to boil for broth. It makes a great soup base.