I am sitting here eating a loaded potato and relishing just how delicious and stick to the ribs this dish is. It is also very penny wise. I have gone back to my extreme penny pinching and saving ways for a few reasons. To get into a frugal mood, one must turn it into a game. I like turning it into mini challenges. For example, I want to see just how low I can get our grocery budget. Out of all the bills, the groceries are the one area you can really save some money with some imagination and good advice from other thrifty money savers.
I’m doing all my shopping at WinCo these days. The Natural Food store cost an arm and a leg. Every town has that discount store and I’m so happy to see that we can now get organics and grass fed, along with cage free groceries. My husband just brought home some items from Grocery Outlet and it included organic milk and grass-fed organic beef. We have come a long way folks. I remember a few years ago you would never have found that.
Here are some great meal ideas to fill the family up and that are cost efficient:
Potatoes loaded with beans, cheese, and any other topping such as salsa, sour cream. I bake the plain Idaho potatoes that cost a few dollars for a huge bag. The beans I make from dried beans and simmer with garlic and salt all day.
French fries. Just cut up those potatoes thick and coat lightly with olive oil or coconut oil and sea salt. Bake in the oven.
Those prebaked chickens at the market. Not always antibiotic free but they are usually a small charge of $4.99. If you are really tight on funds, this is far cheaper than a whole uncooked chicken. You can stretch it for a few days or more. Take all the meat off the bones and divide it into 3. On portion goes into a casserole, one portion into chicken enchiladas, one portion into a pasta chicken salad or whatever. The carcass can be simmered to make a chicken broth. If that isn’t a way to use a chicken.
Make a big batch of sauce. All you need is tomatoes, an onion, butter or some olive oil, salt and Italian seasoning. Simmer for a long, long time and then cool. Blend in blender and freeze part of it. You use it for spaghetti, lasagna, pizza sauce. You can add things to it for whatever dish. The jars of sauce run about $3 to $4 and this will run about $3 for the whole batch that can be used several times and save you at least $10 or more. You can also make your own pesto sauce and save a FORTUNE! A little container cost $6 and homemade is $2.
Casseroles are filling and down home. I love casseroles on cold days. All you need is a cream of mushroom or celery or chicken soup, some milk, noodles, a bag of frozen veggies, and meat (that chicken portion). You can substitute rice and add tons of veggies. Add more seasoning to add pizzaz. A little cheese on top.
Spaghetti. Just use the sauce you made and add some ground beef. Pasta is cheap. Very filling. I serve with a pile of steamed veggies.
Making your own bread. I buy a big bag of yeast that last two years. All you need is flour and salt and water and you will make bread at a cost of $1.25 or less a loaf. When we buy bread, we buy the organic Daves Killer bread and it runs $5.99. At Costco, it’s $3.50. So this is a huge savings.
Have a surplus. I created a pantry that I fill up with huge sale saving items I run across at the store now and then. When you see great savings on meat, stock up and freeze it. Stock up on dried and canned goods. When you run out of grocery money or food stamp rations at the end of the month you will have all kinds of things to work from.
Fill that plate with the healthy and cheap stuff. Carbs get a bad story but they are healthy and brain food. They are great for nursing mothers and growing children. Of course, it depends on the quality of the carb. Brown rice vs. white. Grain pasta or wheat vs. white. Sweet potatoes are so full of good stuff and there are purple potatoes, yellow and red. Sometimes that big old bag of Idaho spuds is all the budget will give in to. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh and can be cheaper. And beans, I love the frijole. You can make so much stuff and they are loaded with fiber.
Make your own convenience and frozen premade foods. Make your own frozen burritos and pizzas from scratch. I just made two lasagnas today and a huge batch of yogurt. I will freeze one lasagna for next week. We will eat the yogurt all week.
Make your own yogurt. Get a gallon of organic milk and make a big batch. The pints of organic yogurt or $5 to $6 and this way you pay something like $1.50 a pint. It is sooo easy. Heat a gallon of milk in a pot to 200 degrees, cool to 115 degrees, scoop out two cups hot milk and add a cup of yogurt you saved from before or get a cup from the store. Mix this and add back to the batch, wrap in a towel unless you have cooked in a dutch oven. Put in the oven overnight. Voila!
Oatmeal. A healthy and hot breakfast that you can add bananas and nuts. This really feeds the belly and is cheap.
Raisins and Peanut Butter. These two items make great snacks and are the least expensive than their cousins the dried cranberry or almond butter.
For more great ideas check out my books on amazon.