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View Full Version : How do YOU beat high food prices?



Upbeat
05-01-2008, 03:15 AM
There ARE ways -
Today, for example, when the urge hit for something sweet & chocolate, I made chocolate mint syrup for less than half the price of a store-bought bottle of the stuff.
Not only that - luckily - I had the few ingredients on hand which saved a trip to the store.
It took about five minutes to mix 1/2 cup cocoa with one cup sugar, a dash of salt, and add one cup water, plus bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer for one minute while stirring.
Off goes the heat. Add one teas vanilla, or, a few drops of peppermint extract.
Delicious! (I mixed a little of this with plain yogurt for a better cheaper than ice cream treat.)
Do watch carefully when cooking as it could boil over; so you need to lower heat to simmer as soon as it starts to boil.

CheriVixen
05-01-2008, 02:47 PM
I try to buy basic, versitile things like flour, sugar, eggs, butter. I can spend the same on those ingredients and get way more breakfasts than if I bought a box of cereal. Plus I feel better about breakast for dinner if its pancakes or an omlet rather than a bowl of cold cereal (which does have its place as a dinner item too, especially it you are trying to teach independence to an six year old ;) )

Inky
05-01-2008, 02:55 PM
Grow my own, plus I have a tangerine tree, so I have plenty of fruit in the next few months. If I owned my own property, I'd get a few chickens to take care of the eggs. In Europe, they grocery shop every couple of days, buying only what's necessary as their refridgerators are very small compared to U.S. Plus, their philosophy is to eat natural foods, which don't keep long, and in small portions. You should have seen my German neighbors when I'd pull up with 400.00 worth of groceries in the trunk...unload...then go to the local German market & return with another trunk load. They became use to it, but as I got to know them more in depth, they let me know I was forever a source of amusement--my shopping style. Don't even get me started on when I would go garden shopping & pull up with the backseat & trunk loaded to the hilt with flowers. They'd all come over & help unload (Germans are truly gifted gardners)...but would laugh, shaking their heads (they grow most of their gorgeous gardens from seeds...not already blooming plants like I had)....

Anyhoo, with this price of food situation, it's going to be difficult for many, but the way everyone eats will have to change so their pocketbooks aren't so drastically effected. Even the military commissaries--which usually have bargain prices--are being hit with increases.

Elaine Margarett
05-01-2008, 03:13 PM
I shop with a shopping list with the weekly specials in mind and (ususally) I don't deviate from it. I plan meals around my shopping list and factor in leftovers for lunch or subsequent dinners. I stay away from prepackaged foods; they're more expensive. I make snacks like cookies and cupcakes and brew iced tea (trying to break my family's soda habit).

I get my eggs from my friend's chickens and grow my own herbs as well as arugula and spinach for salad. (We eat a lot of salads.)

If I decide not to go back to work (I'm between contracts right now) I'll have my DH plant veggies this year in our garden since I'll have the time to properly tend it. We have terriffic soil which means overnight the weeds can reach three feet high!

From years of being a SAHM, I'm very good at squeezing a dollar. I can do a week's worth of grocery shopping and keep a running total in my head over how much I'm spending. It's a skill I've honed with years of practice. <g>

johnnysannie
05-01-2008, 03:32 PM
Most of these are things that I've always done but here we go:

1. Never shop without a list.
2. Make a list using the weekly ad and plan menus around the loss leader items (loss leaders are the sale items, often on the front page of the flyer, that the store actually loses money on but are good enough deals to draw customers into the store)
3. Buy on sale - pay shelf price ONLY when you must
4. Stock up on sale items and good buys whenever possible
5. Maintain a well stocked pantry. If I didn't buy groceries - other than perishables like milk - for at least two weeks, my family would still eat and eat well.
6. Buy in bulk if you can. I've been a member at Sam's Club for years and in the last six months, I've been doing more planning, making a trip to Sam's about every six weeks. I save money doing this.
7. Plan meals in advance and do it using what you have on hand, cutting out impulse trips to the store
8. Use coupons but ONLY when it is a item that you normally buy or something new you want to try
9. Cook from the most basic state possible - i.e. fresh if possible, make your own breads/desserts/etc, cook plain rice and season it yourself instead of buying packaged rice mixes (like Rice-A-Roni)
10. Don't think that you can buy groceries only at the supermarket; sometimes places like Dollar General have lower prices on basic items if you check
11. Buy a meat bundle from a butcher that you trust; if you can, raise your own beef/pork and have it processed (or if you have a relative that lives on a farm and raises stock ask if you can go halves on an animal)
12. Have a small or large garden, even a window box with veggies if you can; use local farmers markets for cheaper produce in the spring and summer months.

One new thing I'm about to do is to use Angel Food. It's a non-profit group that allows people to pay $30 for a large box of groceries. Menus vary from month to month and you can also pay more for extra purchases. There are no income guidelines and it is not a charity. Instead, it is a ministry that allows more buying power (with everyone's $30) to buy fresh, new, grocery products at a large discount. I haven't tried it yet - missed this month's sign up - but I'm thinking about giving it a try for next month.

This month's menu - for $30 - included:
May 2008

English Menu
1.5 lb.
Bacon Wrapped Beef Filet (4 x 6 oz.)
2.5 lb.
Breaded Chicken Breast Filets
1.5 lb.
Bone-In Pork Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)
28 oz.
Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrée
2.5 lb.
Beef and Bean Burritos (10 x 4 oz.)
2 lb.
Popcorn Chicken
9.5 oz.
Stouffer’s Flat Bread Pizza
16 oz.
Cauliflower & Carrot Blend
16 oz.
Corn Niblets
16 oz.
Green Beans
2 lb.
Fresh Onions
29 oz.
Pears
32 oz.
Borden 2% Reduced Fat Shelf-Stable Milk
9 oz.
Breakfast Cereal
8 oz.
Corn Muffin Mix
16 oz.
Bean Soup Mix
1
Dozen Eggs
1
Dessert Item

Angel Food is in 17 states, easy to look up and see if it's in your area!

L M Ashton
05-01-2008, 03:51 PM
A lot of the tricks y'all can do over in North America just don't work here. Our grocery stores don't have weekly specials, there are no sales, coupons don't exist, and the prices are climbing at an unbelievable rate. Food prices are doubling and tripling in under six months. Fish is no longer on our menu because of the cost.

I already cook everything (or close to it) from scratch. Thank the stars for learning how to cook at a very young age. Canned goods, frozen foods, convenience foods, and the like here exist only in small numbers, and when they taste decent, they're imported and the cost is too much, and if they're produced locally, they're generally not worth buying.

I've lately taken up making our bread, but that's partially due to the low quality, poor selection, and outdated bread they sell and also partially due to me discovering the health benefits of sourdough bread over yeast bread combined with discovering no-knead to low-knead methods that don't kill my wrecked joints.

I've also lately started making my own mayonnaise - imported mayo is now at $8 a jar, and even I'm not crazy enough to pay that. Cat food (imported) hasn't been available for several months now, so even the cat has had a change in diet, although he's doing well.

Buying in bulk here is not wise due to problems with bug infestations and high heat and humidity. Stocking up here means having 3kg of white flour and 3kg of wheat flour on hand instead of buying it as you need it.

But the realities here dictate that what we eat on a week to week basis is determined primarily by the quality of the food at the grocery store when we go shop and secondarily by how high the prices for a given vegetable are that week. Produce quality and prices vary wildly. The last two or three months, all the raisins have been bug-eaten, for example, so we've had to forego raisins in the sweetbread. Flexibility is required and knowing how to modify recipes based on available ingredients is a great skill to have.

HeronW
05-01-2008, 04:17 PM
Food prices here vary according to what stores you visit. There's a greengrocer on every corner and often they have better fruits, veggies, herbs and eggs than the chainstores. One chain called Half-Price stocks all the brands but at better prices: 1.1 lb rice for 2$ instead of $4 at another store. We use very little prepackaged, canned or frozen foods, buy catfood in 18lb bags, a large bag of litter lasts a month since I scoop 2-3x a day. I buy a 1/2 gal each of red wine/olive oil for cooking every 3-4 mo.

When we 'eat out' it's splitting a plate of Chinese stirfry at the mall, sushi, and soup for 15$, a main meal for 2.

We bring our own drinks all the time: 2 bottles in winter, 3-4 in summer so we're not paying for a cola out when we can get 3 for the same price by filling up at home. These insulated bottle carriers help keep things cold too.

L M Ashton
05-01-2008, 04:22 PM
Food prices here vary according to what stores you visit. There's a greengrocer on every corner and often they have better fruits, veggies, herbs and eggs than the chainstores.That's somewhat true here, too, in that we do have vegetable stalls all over the place and they do sometimes have fresher produce, but it's really a crapshoot. BUT the big problem for us is that there are no fixed prices, so with me being white, if/when we go to shops without fixed prices, we're charged 3-20x what they'd charge locals, so it ends up being more expensive than the department store with the fixed prices. If Fahim went with himself, he'd get a better price, except that he sucks at haggling. When his mother goes shopping, she gets the best prices, but she's excellent at haggling since everyone's scared of her :D. But she doesn't live close enough for that to be a practical solution for us.

Shadow_Ferret
05-01-2008, 05:53 PM
Wow. You guys put a lot of effort into shopping. We just go and get it over with as quickly as possible.

I just buy generic or store brands wherever possible.

Inky
05-01-2008, 06:04 PM
You have to remember, Shadow, one's living in Sri Lanka, the other in Israel. It's the same here, if I shop on the Turkish economy--though Thursdays, they have a farmer's market, which I've heard is lovely.
I miss shopping on the German economy. Oh, they have THE.BEST.PRODUCE!!!!

shawkins
05-01-2008, 07:05 PM
I've noticed that if I shop when I'm hungry I end up spending about 50% more.

dobiwon
05-01-2008, 07:31 PM
I've noticed that if I shop when I'm hungry I end up spending about 50% more.You beat me to it on this one. The worst thing to do is stop on the way home from work to "pick up a couple of things". After not eating all afternoon, and thinking about dinner, a couple of things can easily begin to include some appetizers and desert in addition to the bottle of ketchup that was the only thing you needed.

Soccer Mom
05-01-2008, 08:54 PM
I grow a lot of my own and cook what is in season. Prices fluctuate depending on what is fresh and grown locally at that time.

johnnysannie
05-01-2008, 09:05 PM
One thing I failed to include in my earlier post...bakery thrift stores.

We don't have one in our small town but when I have the opportunity to be in the "big" town about twelve miles away, I often stock up on bread and other baked goods at a cheaper price.

Surprisingly, most of the products are still within the freshness date - and sometimes are even a fresher date than some of what is on the supermarket shelves.

Oh, and I agree don't shop hungry and if you can, don't take the kids. They want to add things to the shopping basket that aren't on the list;)

NikeeGoddess
05-01-2008, 09:17 PM
cut out processed foods as much as possible. it's so much healthier too.
if you read the label and there are ingredients that you have no idea what they are then put it down and walk away.

skip the junk food, soft drink, and packaged food isles altogether.

don't be afraid to eat the same food all week. make a giant pot of soup, spaghetti sauce, casserole, etc... and eat it every single day until it runs out. or make the giant pot, break it down in to daily portions, and freeze it. you'll be happy you did one... those days when you don't want to shop and need to make dinner quick.

most people can open their cabinets and fridge and see lots of food on the shelves and then say, "there's nothing to eat." don't be that person. there's plenty of food. you're just too lazy to cook. accept it but get over it.

let your kids crying for mickey d's go on deaf ears and/or make them earn a trip to the fast food joint. they learn the value of a meal #4 pretty quick.

katiemac
05-01-2008, 10:25 PM
Bravo's TV program "Top Chef" just aired an episode where the chefs had to create a healthy, nutritional meal for family of four--with a budget of $10. Maybe they have some tips on the website?

Siddow
05-01-2008, 10:32 PM
I cook at home all the time. My grocery bills are enormous, but I recently did the math and figured out we're only spending $5 per person per day for food. I'd say that's decent, especially when you figure in that also includes paper products and my kids' school lunches.

Inky
05-01-2008, 11:12 PM
Agreeing with Siddow. My grocery bill averages 350.00 every two weeks, with at least two 90.00 pit stops in between (you know, the 'I just need a loaf of bread & milk' stop).
But, my normal grocery shopping includes laundry supplies, cat food/supplies, hygiene/hair supplies, cleaning supplies....so the amount actually spent on food? *shrug* I just pile everything into the cart & checkout. Summertime means the cost goes up. Kids pick out more than what they usually eat during the school year...but the food lasts longer because it's too hot to eat heavy meals. Winter's great to pull out the crockpot--which takes care of dinner and then lunch for the next day.
Yep, a list works wonders to keep the cost down.
I've made the mistake of grocery shopping while starving....man...I bought stuff I'd normally not even look at!
The kids are awesome helpers at the grocery store....it's the HUSBAND that piles in all the extras. HE'S the one I need to leave at home, if budgeting! :ROFL:

Soccer Mom
05-01-2008, 11:16 PM
Oh, I rarely let my husband do the shopping. You would think he had never looked in the cabinet. He's a sensible man, but he starts buying all kinds of things we don't eat or don't need.

Inky
05-01-2008, 11:22 PM
Mine grabs the bag of frozen catfish...clutches it to his chest...'Mine'
Okay, honey. You go ahead and put it in the cart.
Then, as if winning some grand prize, he dashes off for tarter sauce. Only.....only....he returns (mind you, he's been gone long enough that I have to call out to him, and have him follow my voice back into the light) with one of those hand baskets full of: cake mix/frosting, some can of corn, pinto beans mix and says this will be grand over eggs, peanuts--every make, microwave meals he swears are for work (we still have a horde of 'em as if they're those military packaged meals & we're stocking up for the big bang!)...and all sorts of items that he 'just wants to try 'em out and see how they taste....'

I still have a bag of shrimp flavored chips that hasn't been opened. Uber yuck! Shrimp flavored chips, SoccerMom....*shakes head*

Siddow
05-01-2008, 11:28 PM
I made the mistake of sending my husband to the store once to pick up lunch stuff. On the list was Ham and Cheese. He brought back a bone-in picnic ham and a 3lb block of cheddar. Never again.

Inky
05-01-2008, 11:29 PM
:ROFL:
:ROFL:
:ROFL:

RLB
05-01-2008, 11:33 PM
My husband came home with whole milk last week when I asked him to stop for me. Whole milk! We've been married five years, and I've never bought anything over 1%. I just smiled and thanked him for going to the store. But still, I wonder if he knows there are different kinds?

Yeshanu
05-01-2008, 11:53 PM
One thing I failed to include in my earlier post...bakery thrift stores.

We don't have one in our small town but when I have the opportunity to be in the "big" town about twelve miles away, I often stock up on bread and other baked goods at a cheaper price.

Surprisingly, most of the products are still within the freshness date - and sometimes are even a fresher date than some of what is on the supermarket shelves.


We have one near us. I haven't used it in a while, but it's great when I do. The reason the products are still within date is because those stores get the excess the bakery produces, and they get it pretty much the day after it's produced.

I usually have a list, but I only put the basics on it. For meat, I shop at a discount grocery store and check to see what's "Last Day on Sale." The "best before" date for this stuff is usually that day or the day after. I take it home, and either cook it that night or portion it for the freezer and freeze right away. I've never had a problem with it, and I eat stuff I'd normally never be able to afford, like prime rib and veal cutlets.

I don't tend to find "store specials" very helpful--they often tend to be pre-packaged stuff I don't eat, but the loss leaders are great. This week, the drug stores (of all places) had eggs at $1.69 a dozen (normally $2.29 here.)

soleary
05-02-2008, 12:00 AM
I eat all of my meals on Second Life, which keeps my food bills waaaay down.

In all honesty, I make more dishes at home and eat out less, which is a big change for me.

P.S. Unlike other professions, we can call ourselves "starving artists" as a badge of honor!

Upbeat
05-02-2008, 12:07 AM
As it turns out - this terrific thread is far more enlightening than I expected!
SO many great ideas - and humor! Plus all that, input from folks all over the world who give us the inside story on grocery shopping, etc.,. in other countries.

soleary
05-02-2008, 12:11 AM
Wait a second, I forgot I'm in marketing. If you want to save money, you may want to consider some of the following tips:

When buying anything on line, google "promo codes" for the product or service you want to buy. (e.g., HYATT HOTELS PROMO CODES). You will find web sites that have promotional codes for the products/services you want to buy, and that could save you money.

When shopping with coupons, visit the various coupon sites on line to download coupons. Also, find out if any stores in your neighborhood have double coupon days and take advantage.

Google "free samples" and find products you want to try. Usually, the sample packs are delivered with coupons.

When you shop, go with a friend. You tend to make smarter purchases when you have someone there to talk you out of something you don't need.

Visit club stores with the same or different friend, and split bulk purchases if you can. The problem with many club stores is that you don't need all of the quantity they sell. If you can split the dozen pork loins, you can save big time.

That's all I have for now. Hope it helps!

soleary

P.S. If you have favorite products, write to the manufacturers on their web sites and request coupons. Some will send you them.

L M Ashton
05-02-2008, 05:07 AM
My husband comes grocery shopping with me all the time, and he's actually useful and helpful. Sorry!


One more thing: Homemade bread. It's easy. And the punching and kneading help get those stormy moments under control.

I have joint problems. Really nasty joint problems, really - hands, shoulders, back - and I can't do the 10 or 20 minute kneading and we can't get a machine to mix dough for us to save our lives. BUT I recently learned about methods that require only 10 seconds of kneading, let the dough sit for 15 minutes, then repeat for a total of three times, then do a stretch and fold 15 minutes after that, and that works about the same as kneading for the 10 minutes or whatever. BUT MUCH less pain for those of us with problem joints and such.

I've been doing this, and my cinnamon buns (or whatever I stuff them with that day) and bread have been turning out great! The method really works, much to my surprise. So bread making has become a whole lot less work. :)

I also make bread with sourdough, not with yeast. Two reasons. One. I bought a packet of yeast in the beginning of April. Imported, packaged the month before, expires in two years. Because I'm the sort that doesn't trust anything we get here - and for good reason - I proofed the yeast and got no activity. Added five or ten times as much yeast as I should have needed, and finally got a little bit of activity. Nearly dead yeast. Just bought. Not expired. Not my happy day, ya know?

So I started researching sourdough because, dammit, I want a reliable method of raising bread. And that's when I learned that sourdough breads are healthier anyway. Breads made from sourdough are more easily digestible, have lower glycemic indexes (or whatever that is), and so on.

So I've been making only sourdough breads since, and while I've had a few problems in the beginning, it was solely due to my own lack of knowledge of sourdough breads. Now it's humming along great! And Fahim prefers the taste of sourdough breads, including his sourdough cinnamon buns. And I don't have to knead more than 45 seconds total!

I'm wondering if I should start a bread thread...

StephanieFox
05-02-2008, 05:29 AM
I seldom shop with a list. I seldom cook with recipes. I see what's good at the market and combine that with what I have in my fridge or freezer or in my veggie garden (July through October only). Staples I'll buy on sale or at Costco.

I also go to a lot of ethnic markets (various ethnics) and often find great ingredients for cheaper than at the regular supermarkets.

Tonight, I found some really nice Brussel sprouts (which we like), so I chopped and started browning a Valdalia, added the chopped sprouts, some chopped chicken thighs, garlic, spices & herbs, lemon zest and then some rice. On the side I'm pulling out of the freezer some Southern style black-eyed peas that I made a few weeks ago.

We eat a lot of beans, peas and grains. We eat a lot of stews with smaller amounts of meats. That saves money.

There's a local supermarket that sells meat that is about to go past date. It's perfectly good. I'll stick those in the freezer and pull them out to make steak tacos or grilled steak. I go a 5 lb. corned beef the other day for half price. That'll last several meals. Yummy!

In the summer, there's the farmer's markets and of course, I check the sales bins for 'special' ingredients (like dried mushrooms).

jennontheisland
05-02-2008, 05:34 AM
Meal planning. We have a stock menu list and we set up the weekly menu to spread ingredients over multiple meals. We always shop with a list and try to stick to it (sticky toffee pudding hagen daas is never on the list but regularly ends up in the cart)

We always make enough dinner so that I can take some to work for lunch the next day.

We don't buy prepared foods if we can avoid it. Not just for the cost but for the ingredients. I'm a compulsive label reader and won't buy anything with transfats, including mono- and di-glycerides, in it.

Our big grocery splurge is certified organically produced items. Our store carries a ton of organic products. Some, that are their own brand, are even cheaper than the brand name stuff. (organic crackers made with smelt and quinoa are actually cheaper than Ritz)

Upbeat
05-02-2008, 07:16 AM
Meal planning. We have a stock menu list and we set up the weekly menu to spread ingredients over multiple meals. We always shop with a list and try to stick to it (sticky toffee pudding hagen daas is never on the list but regularly ends up in the cart)

We always make enough dinner so that I can take some to work for lunch the next day.

We don't buy prepared foods if we can avoid it. Not just for the cost but for the ingredients. I'm a compulsive label reader and won't buy anything with transfats, including mono- and di-glycerides, in it.

Our big grocery splurge is certified organically produced items. Our store carries a ton of organic products. Some, that are their own brand, are even cheaper than the brand name stuff. (organic crackers made with smelt and quinoa are actually cheaper than Ritz)

Lucky you with a local store stocking organics! Our only source in this wilderness town is via a monthly truck delivery from a company which, fortunately, carries hundreds of organic items.
And yes, some brands are cheaper and many other foods they carry are only slightly more than non-organics.
I figure the advantages of eating organics is well worth it.

Stacia Kane
05-02-2008, 02:02 PM
I used to be able to feed our family (three at the time plus a breastfed baby) on $20 a week. I'd buy ground beef in bulk at the grocery store--ask where the price break is and have them package up over that amount. Then at home I'd split it into 1 1/2 pounds chunks and freeze them--I'd spend maybe $20-40 at the beginning (getting good ground sirloin for as little as $1.25 per pound) of the month and have meat for the rest of it. If anything was on sale I'd buy that too if we had money, and save it in the freezer--we used to be able to have things like orange roughy or filet mignon once in a while because of that. We did eat a lot of pasta, rice, and soups (soup and rice or stew and rice was one of our favorite meals). I'd also look for sales on stew meat--someone already suggested looking for it when it's about to expire and goes on sale--and use it for pasta sauces (stew beef simmered in red wine, then shredded and thickened with a bit of flour makes a fantastic pasta sauce, add some bacon if you like) or serve it with rice. If you're careful with portions you can have enough for lunch or to eat the next day. I'd make roast beef in the corckpot, reheat it the second day, then shred it and strir fry it the third to put in taco shells.

I almost always served frozen peas, because they're inexpensive (we lived in FL and most vegetables don't grow easily in such sandy soil, so I couldn't have a garden). I rarely bought snack foods or anything and baked my own cakes, made my own frosting.

We watched the sales on household stuff too, because so much of our grocery budget went for things like that--toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Oh, and I used baking soda and/or vinegar for most cleaning.

L M Ashton
05-02-2008, 02:47 PM
we lived in FL and most vegetables don't grow easily in such sandy soil, so I couldn't have a gardenIf you compost your own vegetation kitchen and yard waste and add that compost to the soil, you can get pretty respectable soil in a few years. Sure, not instantaneous, but it can be done, and it can work very well.

In one town we lived in, we also had very sandy soil, very pale, not very good. My mother asked all the neighbors for all their yard waste, which she composted together with ours, and in about three years, maybe four, the soil was a very dark brown, rich soil.

Upbeat
05-11-2008, 12:53 AM
If you compost your own vegetation kitchen and yard waste and add that compost to the soil, you can get pretty respectable soil in a few years. Sure, not instantaneous, but it can be done, and it can work very well.

In one town we lived in, we also had very sandy soil, very pale, not very good. My mother asked all the neighbors for all their yard waste, which she composted together with ours, and in about three years, maybe four, the soil was a very dark brown, rich soil.

Composting's worth it! My son does so and has a fantastic garden every year.

Melisande
05-12-2008, 06:06 PM
I plan my weekly shopping -and menu- around the flyers we get. We go to one store only (not the same every week) and If I loose a coupla bucks there it's still worth it (gasprices). I cook everything from scratch and use tons of veggies. I never shop in bulk because of lack of storage room in our apartement. It's only me and my Beloved Hubby, but usually I manage to keep the shopping down to about 100 to 120 dollars a week (I'm really picky with meat products and willing to pay for quality), and that is including detergents, hygienic products, paper products, tinfoil and what have you. It also includes wine and beer. I use a lot of wine in my cooking-and in the cook-...

Where I live almost every store has a big Latino section, where I am able to get spices, beans, lentils and such really cheap. I don't cook Latino style, but can use their products for my way of cooking.

We hardly ever eat bread, so I never bake. I buy fresh baked and freeze at once. But a do bake pastries for my Hubby every now and then.

Upbeat
05-15-2008, 05:06 AM
Melisande...like you, I believe it's helpful to plan. However, if something's on special I'll go for it, then (maybe) cut out something else to stay on budget.

Kalyke
05-15-2008, 09:10 AM
I've been poor all my life. I spread things like meat thin. Instead of a roast, I make soup, instead of chicken, I make casserole. Make and freeze big batches. If you know you have food that just needs to be microwaved you stop buying TV dinner type meals. Use a lot of noodles, beans and rice. Rice makes a great breakfast! They might be more expensive now, but they are still cheaper than meat. I eat a lot of vegetarian meals, getting my protein from tofu and/or eggs. I plant a garden every year. I also don't "pig out" Your stomach only holds about the size of your fist -- about a cup and quarter or half. Eat any more and you get acid reflux anyway. For snacks eat popcorn, carrots, celery. Bring a sack lunch, and remember the snacks.

icerose
05-15-2008, 08:06 PM
In this US this works, I'm not sure if it would work in other countries. But I shop around the outside of the store and don't go down any isles until I have most of what I need.

I go in with a list.

I do NOT go down isles that don't have food on my list. Otherwise I end up grabbing something.

I can't grow a garden because I'm in an apartment complex and they won't let us and the gardan wouldn't be safe anyhow, but my MIL plants extra and we can every year. I buy in bulk and never go for name brand unless they are cheaper.

Upbeat
05-17-2008, 05:33 AM
In this US this works, I'm not sure if it would work in other countries. But I shop around the outside of the store and don't go down any isles until I have most of what I need.

I go in with a list.

I do NOT go down isles that don't have food on my list. Otherwise I end up grabbing something.

I can't grow a garden because I'm in an apartment complex and they won't let us and the gardan wouldn't be safe anyhow, but my MIL plants extra and we can every year. I buy in bulk and never go for name brand unless they are cheaper.

It works! - sticking to a list.
I don't set foot in a grocery store without one.
Today I read comments about all this on a national news site.
A single woman with two children wrote that she ran out of $312/month in food stamps two weeks after getting them.
An Alabama prison official wrote that he spent $1.75/day for each of 100s of prisoners' meals. He included a typical daily menu which sounded really good - and filling.
It made me wonder if the single mom with 2 kids was doing any planning and making a list.

Elaine Margarett
05-17-2008, 03:02 PM
Another way to beat the high cost of food is to stop eating out! It's amazing to me the amount of food people eat out. I'd rather spend 25 bucks on some nice steaks for the family than 25 bucks at McDonalds.

Southern_girl29
05-18-2008, 05:33 AM
I have to go with the menu planning. I've started planning out our menu for the week, make a list of what you need to make that meal and don't buy anything extra. I also plan one night a week to be leftover night. It really works for us.

I also buy generic products only, unless I have a coupon. I also have to second Johnnysannie who mentioned the Angel Food Ministries. It's a wonderful program, and we've done it before. You get a lot of food for $30.

Upbeat
05-19-2008, 02:27 AM
December Quinn - So you save on cleaning products by using baking soda and vinegar, too! I thought I was the only one! You can save a bundle that way and it works just as well - or better!

stormie
05-19-2008, 05:39 PM
Vinegar also kills ants and seems to keep them away for awhile. I use it full strength.

Baking soda and vinegar cleans out drains. (Pour baking soda in the drain first, followed by some vinegar. Watch it bubble!)

I average $40 each week by using coupons for groceries we need (not want), or buying the store brand (whichever,after coupons, is cheaper). And as others have said, go with a list. I star whatever I have a coupon for, and how much off. Then I can compare.

Siddow
05-19-2008, 05:54 PM
Another great household cleaner is hydrogen peroxide. I buy it by the quart at Wal-Mart for less than a dollar. It's great for disinfecting counters and toilets, and plus it's fun to use. Just spray it on the grimy stuff and watch it bubble away. Safe to use anywhere you'd use bleach, without any of the yucky smell.

I make window cleaner with a cup of vinegar in a quart bottle of water, with just a smidge of dish soap. It's the best stuff I've ever used, I'll never go back to commercial cleaners.

And I've recently discovered the wonder of microfiber. It's amazing how much you can clean with just a damp microfiber cloth, no cleaning solution at all. :)

L M Ashton
05-19-2008, 06:32 PM
Yeah, vinegar doesn't do anything for the ants here, but I suspect we probably have, oh, way more than you do. :D I use a mixture of borax and sugar, which the ants then take back to their nest, killing the entire nest. Except it doesn't work on all varieties of ants - there are a few that don't like sugar. But the usual warning - keep out of reach of pets and children. But since it only takes a quarter teaspoon or less to kill an entire nest, I don't have a problem with that. :)

chartreuse
05-19-2008, 11:16 PM
1. Buy what you normally use on sale whether you need it or not; that way when you run out you aren't forced to pay full price.

2. Do NOT waste food. Even just an oz. or two of meat can be saved and used as a snack the next day.

3. Portion sizes - the portions you serve up at home should not resemble in any way the portion sizes you are served in restaurants. You should not be stuffed when you finish eating. (Bonus round of not gorging yourself at every meal - you'll have far more energy.)

4. Cook your own food - this is far, far, cheaper than buying packaged, processed food.

5. Bring everything you need for the day with you. I like soda at lunch so I bring my own bottle that I refill every day out of a two-litre. Bring your own snacks. Have your coffee at home before you leave, or make it at home and take it with you in a thermos.

6. Restaurant meals of any sort should be something you do only about once a week (at most). If you stop at the drive-thru every morning or night, you're not only throwing your money away, you're compromising your health, which carries its own expenses.

Upbeat
05-20-2008, 12:05 AM
I have to go with the menu planning. I've started planning out our menu for the week, make a list of what you need to make that meal and don't buy anything extra. I also plan one night a week to be leftover night. It really works for us.

I also buy generic products only, unless I have a coupon. I also have to second Johnnysannie who mentioned the Angel Food Ministries. It's a wonderful program, and we've done it before. You get a lot of food for $30.

Menu planning's good 'tho I seldom do it more than a couple of hours - or less - ahead of meal time.

sassandgroove
05-20-2008, 12:12 AM
I make a menu then a list from that. I am thinking I could still do more, after reading this thread. Like I was thinking after the crock pot thread I should break out the crock pot, but I am in a rut, I guess, because we went to the store on the weekend and I completely forgot. We do try to stock up at sam's, and I freeze meat, etc. But with my knee injury we'd fallen into just the trips for "a couple of things." so when we went this weekend we were out of everything. But we're stocked up now. We won't need anything next week except produce and milk and bread. Now that we're restocked, on the next payday we can start the rolling stock up again where we buy chicken one pay check, beef the next, at sam's, instead of being slammed. but I was hurt and it was hard to shop. Anyway....

ETA: and another thing...

We cleaned out/reorganized our pantry yesterday. We threw out quite a bit of stale/old/questionable foods. I - we - need to paymore attention so we don't open/buy new until we eat old (before it is too old.) The fridge wasn't as bad, but that's more becuase I throw out iffy food from there regularly. So eat leftovers, don't just save them until they are a science experiment.

Stormie, is Everyting Soup good? because it sounds weird.

stormie
05-20-2008, 02:42 AM
Save even the smallest leftovers. Then make a huge pot for an Everything Soup.

I had to search for that, Sass. :D

Okay, an Everything Soup is: Start with the basics. A little hot oil in a large pot, lots of chopped up onion, some garlic, maybe some green or red peppers chopped, mushrooms. Any or all of the forementioned. Cook for about five minutes, stirring. Add broth--chicken or beef or veggie broth and lots of water. Stir. Add whatever leftovers--even scooped-out sweet potatoes or yams (they sweeten it). Any veggies, too. Or frozen or canned. Bring to a boil, then simmer for as long as you like (twenty minutes even). Add whatever seasonings you like. And a little salt and pepper. My sister used to add chopped up tomatoes, too. Celery, carrots, use your imagination. Now, since my sons eat it, it has to be good! (My husband eats anything.)

ETA: I accidently deleted my first post on page one. Oops.

tjwriter
05-20-2008, 04:31 AM
ETA: and another thing...

We cleaned out/reorganized our pantry yesterday. We threw out quite a bit of stale/old/questionable foods. I - we - need to paymore attention so we don't open/buy new until we eat old (before it is too old.) The fridge wasn't as bad, but that's more becuase I throw out iffy food from there regularly. So eat leftovers, don't just save them until they are a science experiment.

Over at Organized Home (http://www.organizedhome.com) they have printable pages for pantry and freezer inventory so you can keep track of what you have. I keep meaning to inventory my stuff so we waste less, but it nevers seems to happen.

L M Ashton
05-20-2008, 05:52 AM
I put everything in the cupboards/ant free zone away in date order - newest at the back, for example - so everything is automatically rotated when I take things out. Rotating the food storage is very important and lessens waste. :)

sassandgroove
05-20-2008, 07:31 PM
Right, First in First out. The problem is my pantry is deep, and stuff gets lost in the back, but my husband organized it this time, not me, so as long as I stick with his system, it should work.

I still think of you as quid squibbis. :D

Stormie, I just have trouble picturing the soup. I guess it is becuase I don't make soup. maybe I should start. Like, do the yams kind of meld into the broth? Do you ever add meat?

stormie
05-20-2008, 08:46 PM
Oh, yeah, shredded or cubed meat, chicken...anything! (Just cook the meat or chicken first.) The sweet potatoes or yams are cooked already (left-overs, remember?!) and you scoop 'em out and toss them in. They cook into the soup and sweeten it nicely. You can add a handful of quick-cooking barley or rice, too.

sassandgroove
05-20-2008, 08:57 PM
Ok- I'll remember this next time I have leftovers. :)

...thinking about stir-fry leftovers.

stormie
05-20-2008, 09:06 PM
Oh, I did that two nights ago. (Okay, you want to hear another strange but good recipe for stir-fry? No? Well, you'll hear it anyway :D ):

A little hot oil, cook up the onions, celery, whatever, to soften them. Add the meat or chicken. Add the already cooked leftovers. Add a large glop of creamy peanut butter (yep, peanut butter!) and soy sauce and a little water. Mix it all up for only about five minutes over medium heat.

I have the strangest recipes but they turn out great.

sassandgroove
05-20-2008, 10:14 PM
I once made stir fry with veggies, (I forget what, maybe snap peas and broccoli?) and walnuts and honey. It was really good, but I couldn't replicate it.

zenwriter
05-21-2008, 06:10 AM
I’ve figured out that at my grocery store there is a code on the price tag (the one attached to the shelf) that tells you how much an item costs per 100 g or 200 g. It’s an easy way to compare prices quickly – sometimes the brand name on sale is the least expensive choice and sometimes the smaller size is cheaper than the bulk. Now I always check instead of assuming that the no-name huge size is cheapest.

I also swear by the local farmer’s market – I can get a huge bag of veggies for $30, which is an amazing deal here.

We also tend to make things from scratch rather than paying more for convenience. Buying processed stuff is more expensive and tastes worse. Plus, when you buy lots of stuff that you only use once in a while (like tartar sauce and plum sauce) it tends to go bad. Making a small home-made batch is so much better.

Carole
05-22-2008, 02:49 PM
My husband came home with whole milk last week when I asked him to stop for me. Whole milk! We've been married five years, and I've never bought anything over 1%. I just smiled and thanked him for going to the store. But still, I wonder if he knows there are different kinds?

My husband did that and I thought he just grabbed whatever. It turns out that he was trying to make a point. He hates lowfat milk. He's thin, and he told me that for years he figured I was just trying to kill him with lowfat milk. In fact, he said, "I'm so skinny now that I only have one side!"

Then there was the time I bought him ORGANIC whole milk. I thought he was going to go into a bliss coma.

L M Ashton
05-22-2008, 03:32 PM
Hah! Getting anything other than whole milk here is a major undertaking. It doesn't exist! But then, here, most people need the extra calories. My husband was about 120 or 140 pounds when we married - he's 5'11 1/2", and he wasn't unusual! Of course, now that we've been married five years, he's gained about 40 or 50... And he now looks normal. :)

Kitrianna
05-22-2008, 09:02 PM
I shop at the farmer's market for meat and fresh fruits and veggies. Most things are cheaper than in the grocery store (that happens to be across the street from it) and they're definitely fresher and better looking. I can save over 100 dollars a month and eat steak a couple times a week if I wanted to. I just can't wait until more local produce becomes available, the prices will be even better then.

jennontheisland
05-22-2008, 09:14 PM
I just planted my garden. Tomatoes, peas, beans, carrots, lettuces, zucchini, beets, arugula, cucumber, and tons of herbs.

Fresh herbs are super expensive at the grocery store. Plus, I can dry the excess and give them away in pretty little jars at Christmas. Vive le cheap!

L M Ashton
05-23-2008, 05:47 AM
We can't get most herbs that North Americans and Europeans consider standard. So, I'm growing my own, or at least planning to. I tried several years ago, but the ants made like bandits with the seeds, so I'm going to have to moat the little pots to keep the ants out.

Yeshanu
05-23-2008, 05:53 AM
The problem is my pantry is deep, and stuff gets lost in the back, but my husband organized it this time, not me, so as long as I stick with his system, it should work.

I had that problem too. So I got a couple of not-so-deep metal shelves and put them in the dining room, and that is now my pantry. Now not only does stuff not get lost, I have a visual reminder every time I go into the room that I actually do have food in the house, even some stuff that takes only minutes to cook, so I eat out less.

Kitrianna
05-24-2008, 07:31 PM
How to eat out less- Live out amongst cows and corn fields and don't own a car!

GradGirl
05-24-2008, 07:38 PM
Also, I know at some bakeries, if you go towards the end of the day, things are half off! The Au Bon Pain in Chicago is like this, and I know a few others.

blacbird
05-26-2008, 03:57 AM
In the summer, at least, veggie garden. A big part of that is knowing what to grow, in your area, that will return the best value and/or the best quality. Yeah, it's some work, but it's rewarding work, and you're exchanging work time for money, essentially.

caw

brianm
05-30-2008, 09:00 AM
We've cut out caviar, fois gras, and truffles.

Oh, you were serious?

I watch the weekly adds and draw up a menu for the week based on the ads. I make a list and only buy what's on the list.

I tried coupon shopping but I kept forgetting the darn things at home, so I stopped cutting them out of the newspaper.

brianm
05-30-2008, 09:06 AM
Also, I know at some bakeries, if you go towards the end of the day, things are half off! The Au Bon Pain in Chicago is like this, and I know a few others.

This holds true for ground beef. Many supermarkets reduce their packaged ground beef after 7pm. (I'm not talking about the nasty stuff in the tubes.)

JLCwrites
05-30-2008, 10:17 AM
1) I plan the dinners for every night. (We rarely eat out)
2) I try to consolidate the ingredient so most of the recipes use the same stuff.
3) Purchase mostly whole foods. Try to stay away from the center isles. Go to the produce section, meat, dairy and bakery. (Usually found around the parameter of the store.)
4) Grow your own. I have a small 3x3 foot garden and everything I need for a salad is grown there!

We also reuse our grocery bags and the store gives us 5 cents off for each bag we fill.

Of course, our bill is still pretty high because we stick with organic foods. I can taste the difference, and I don't get reactions when I eat organic fruit. Unfortunately they are more expensive, but we feel it is worth the extra $$$

Upbeat
06-01-2008, 01:41 AM
1) I plan the dinners for every night. (We rarely eat out)
2) I try to consolidate the ingredient so most of the recipes use the same stuff.
3) Purchase mostly whole foods. Try to stay away from the center isles. Go to the produce section, meat, dairy and bakery. (Usually found around the parameter of the store.)
4) Grow your own. I have a small 3x3 foot garden and everything I need for a salad is grown there!

We also reuse our grocery bags and the store gives us 5 cents off for each bag we fill.

Of course, our bill is still pretty high because we stick with organic foods. I can taste the difference, and I don't get reactions when I eat organic fruit. Unfortunately they are more expensive, but we feel it is worth the extra $$$

I'm with you on buying organics. Some are a bit more costly while others are not; and I'd rather save in other ways, including many of those mentioned in this thread. Organics are not contaminated with pesticides and other undesireables. They might even save on medical bills.

sassandgroove
06-01-2008, 06:04 AM
I am making soup right now! you all inspired me.

CatSlave
06-01-2008, 11:03 AM
If you have a large freezer and/or a friend with whom to share, you might consider buying a half or quarter beef (or pork) at your local butcher shop and have the butcher cut it up and freezer package it for you.
Your overall cost per pound is considerably less than buying one package at a time in the grocery store.
Last time I checked, I could get a side of beef for about $2.75/lb.

nicolen
06-01-2008, 10:28 PM
I don't throw any food out now. Not at all. Leftovers get taken to work for lunch the next day or frozen in serving sizes which make for healthy, nutritious and quick meals on the days when I've had hell days at work and am too tired to cook.

This sounds stupid, but I now buy my groceries online. I'm dreadful for wandering the aisles and seeing something new that looks appealing and chucking it in the basket or trolley. So very few impulse buys. The produce is fantastic quality and the supermarket will also throw in a freebie every now and then of things you've brought before. They're not expensive things - for me it's usually been tinned tomatoes or tinned fruit, but hey, free is good. There is a delivery fee of usually around NZ$12 per order, but given that I don't drive and I'd spend more than that for the taxi home from the supermarket, it actually works out cheaper.

Supermarket branded items are great, especially for things like spices and tinned foods. There's very little if any difference between the supermarket brand and the well-known brand. And I know it's not food, but supermarket branded cleaning items are often half the price and do just as good a job.

I shop the specials, especially for meat and buy seasonally. It's winter here at the moment, so cauliflower, sprouts, that sort of thing are dirt cheap. It makes a big difference...

sassandgroove
06-01-2008, 10:32 PM
welcome to AW nicolen. I read an article about online grocery shopping and how people stick to a budget easier since they don't impulse buy. I looked into it but we don't have it available where I live. But I do okay when I make a list and shop with intention. I just need to be intentional.

Where I live people call the shopping baskets buggies. I think it's cute.

L M Ashton
06-02-2008, 05:26 AM
Online grocery shopping just became available here about a month ago. We've used it twice since, and it was surprisingly good. The guy who did our order called us to see about substitutions since a couple of things weren't in stock, and he even checked Halal status of the substituted items and confirmed that they were. The produce they sent us was in surprisingly good shape - they did not try to pawn off anything questionable to us. This is unusually good service for a Sri Lankan company. Unfortunately, though, they don't have Halal meat, so we still have to do our grocery shopping at the other store in person for that, but it sure came in handy when we were both too sick (from chikungunya) to even think about leaving the house. The cost of delivery is the same for us to take a trishaw there and back, so we'll be doing this again.

sassandgroove
06-19-2008, 07:29 PM
Oh, I did that two nights ago. (Okay, you want to hear another strange but good recipe for stir-fry? No? Well, you'll hear it anyway :D ):

A little hot oil, cook up the onions, celery, whatever, to soften them. Add the meat or chicken. Add the already cooked leftovers. Add a large glop of creamy peanut butter (yep, peanut butter!) and soy sauce and a little water. Mix it all up for only about five minutes over medium heat.

I have the strangest recipes but they turn out great.:( HELP! I tried this last night and it doesn't taste good. What did I do wrong? I'm wondering if my celery was too old? Would that make it taste bitter? it is bitter. can I add something to take the bitter away? LAst night it was bad. I left it in crock pot all night and it is less bitter this morning.

It has navy beans, onions, carrots, celery, water and chicken broth and some bacon since I didn't have ham, and salt and pepper. oh and oregano.

CatSlave
06-19-2008, 07:57 PM
A peanut butter/soy sauce/chile concoction is Indonesian, I think. Anyway, somewhere in that neighborhood.
But you need some sweet to balance it out--try some brown sugar or maybe honey or molasses.

I don't think oregano fits in with that flavor pattern, though. JMO
Too much celery could be the culprit.

Maybe you can turn it into a soup. :)

sassandgroove
06-19-2008, 09:32 PM
:( It is soup. I'll try sweetening it this time and not so much celery next time. It was left over so that's why I used it. Everyone ate carrot sticks and left the celery when we had guests over.

stormie
06-20-2008, 04:08 AM
Yeah, too much celery (and esp. if it's wilted, not crisp before cooking) could make it bitter. And oregano can do it, too. I found that out several years ago when I dumped too much into a tomato sauce I was making. Also, as Catslave said, molasses is a great sweetener for soups.

L M Ashton
06-20-2008, 05:09 AM
The best way I know of to check celery is to smell the base. If it smells bitter, it'll taste bitter. If it has no smell, then it won't. :)

sassandgroove
06-20-2008, 06:32 PM
THANK YOU Stormie, LM Ashton and Catslave. :heart:

Now I know. some celery that smells ok = good. a lot of old celery = bad. Thanks. I haven't tried sweetening it yet, but I will.

oh and oregano can be bitter.

stormie
06-20-2008, 06:42 PM
<Whew> Sass isn't upset with my soup recipe! Actually, through the years it's trial and error. (ADD: mashed up cooked sweet potatoes for a sweetener.)

Last night I had some leftover chicken, veggies, and broth. Instead of soup though, I got out my Joy Of Cooking and made (for the very first time) Chicken Pot Pie (I used store brand refrigerated crescent rolls for the top crust. No bottom crust. If you can make your own crust, go for it.) I also used low fat milk instead of whole milk for the base, and a little less unsalted store brand butter. It turned out great. I was surprised.

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 03:10 AM
...good celery ideas ! Now back to thread subject, since budgets may be tighter than ever as food prices climb. I'm convinced that cooking from scratch is a major key to saving $$$s so I'm baking bread basics using a tried and true biscuit recipe for a wide additive variety for that basic food.
This week I've made the following with a simple biscuit recipe:
Plain ole biscuits to go with soup, shortcakes and such.
Sweet, yummy biscuits with brown sugar, cardemom (or you can use cinnamon)
Fruity biscuits with berries - or whatever.
Biscuits with chopped sausages & herbs.
Of course you can always make biscuit pizza crust.
Homemade biscuits are a lot less expensive than store-bought breads or crusts.

jennifer75
07-08-2008, 03:11 AM
How do i beat the high price of food??

Well, for starters, I don't throw away the crappy vegi-tray I got at lunch today. I take it home, and find a way to fix it as to not waste the $2.89 it cost me. I'm sure I'll hate it, but it's food, and food aint cheap these days. Arrrrgh.

stormie
07-08-2008, 03:14 AM
Yep. The more you make from scratch, the more you save. And cook/bake in bulk. A large roaster chicken on sale, a large bottom round roast on sale. Pork loin on sale.

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 03:33 AM
<Whew> Sass isn't upset with my soup recipe! Actually, through the years it's trial and error. (ADD: mashed up cooked sweet potatoes for a sweetener.)

Last night I had some leftover chicken, veggies, and broth. Instead of soup though, I got out my Joy Of Cooking and made (for the very first time) Chicken Pot Pie (I used store brand refrigerated crescent rolls for the top crust. No bottom crust. If you can make your own crust, go for it.) I also used low fat milk instead of whole milk for the base, and a little less unsalted store brand butter. It turned out great. I was surprised.
...sounds SOOO good ! Amazing what we can do with leftovers.

stormie
07-08-2008, 03:38 AM
If my sons will eat it, it has to be good. :D The sauce is a basic white sauce, cooked down. (Bring to a boil, then simmer and keep stirring til it thickens, which takes only about five minutes.)

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 03:49 AM
How do i beat the high price of food??

Well, for starters, I don't throw away the crappy vegi-tray I got at lunch today. I take it home, and find a way to fix it as to not waste the $2.89 it cost me. I'm sure I'll hate it, but it's food, and food aint cheap these days. Arrrrgh.
Hope you don't hate it- 'fixing's' the name of the 'savings' game.
Some work better than others, of course.
I'm about to make salad with chicken left from simmering stock.
Dressing will be with yogurt-based mayo, a recipe found in the MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK. I make homemade yogurt which is lots cheaper than store-bought, as is mayo.

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 04:03 AM
If my sons will eat it, it has to be good. :D The sauce is a basic white sauce, cooked down. (Bring to a boil, then simmer and keep stirring til it thickens, which takes only about five minutes.)
You're really on to some savings with cream sauce which can be flavored and used in many ways including cheese sauce.
It took me years to find the key to cream sauce/gravy success - Cook fat and flour, stirring, then add & continuously whisk in COLD (not warm) milk, stock, or whatever is called for in your recipe.

sassandgroove
07-08-2008, 06:37 AM
I've been buying romaine lettuce heads instead of the bagged lettuce - I'd gotten lazy and was buying those for a while. I always ended up throwing away some of the bagged lettuce. But I've been storing the lettuce head like Alton Brown says to do and they've lasted quite a while. I am pleased. OH- loosely wrap the lettuce in a paper towel then put it in a plastic bag but don't seal it. The paper towel whisks moisture away, so it isn't in direct contact with the lettuce, but keeps the area humid. mmm... Also if lettuce is a little limp you can soak it in an ice bath for a few minutes before giving it a spin in the salad spinner, and it crisps up.

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 02:10 PM
Sassy - Alton Brown's paper towel idea does work well. I use it when freezing fresh herbs as well as for refrigerating greens.

Bubastes
07-08-2008, 05:41 PM
I still have a bag of shrimp flavored chips that hasn't been opened. Uber yuck! Shrimp flavored chips, SoccerMom....*shakes head*

Shrimp chips? Give them to meeeeee! I like them. Must be an Asian thing. :D

ETA: I'm eating more vegetarian meals to save money (I'm probably improving my diet along the way too). It's a great excuse to try new recipes too. I made an Indian-inspired chickpea, spinach, and paneer bake yesterday. I feel healthier already!

jennifer75
07-08-2008, 08:23 PM
How do i beat the high price of food??

Well, for starters, I don't throw away the crappy vegi-tray I got at lunch today. I take it home, and find a way to fix it as to not waste the $2.89 it cost me. I'm sure I'll hate it, but it's food, and food aint cheap these days. Arrrrgh.


Hope you don't hate it- 'fixing's' the name of the 'savings' game.
Some work better than others, of course.
I'm about to make salad with chicken left from simmering stock.
Dressing will be with yogurt-based mayo, a recipe found in the MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK. I make homemade yogurt which is lots cheaper than store-bought, as is mayo.

Guess who forgot to take her vegi-tray-o-crap home with her yesterday and made a big pot of spaghetti with smoked sausages and salad. So, still had a great meal, didn't require any additional ingredients, so no money was spent, but I still have a vegi-tray-o-crap in the fridge at work screaming at me. Think it's too gross to even attempt to "fix" now?

Kitrianna
07-08-2008, 09:34 PM
Here's a budget saver that most Canadians do, but I'm not sure about the rest of ya. Try sheperd's pie instead of a pot pie. There's no need for a crust because you use mashed potatoes (with cheese ...totally optional, except if you're me!) to top it and while I make mine with ground beef, I'm certain any meat you choose to use would be good. I've been told that classically you're suppoed to use leftovers from a roast beef dinner (the roast itself, gravy, corn and mashed potatoes), but I prefer the ground beef (yes I have tried it the other way). Simply put your meat in the bottom of a casserole, cover with gravy (I add sauteed mushrooms and onions), cover with corn (or other veg), top with mashed potatoes sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about half an hour until bubbly.

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 11:49 PM
Guess who forgot to take her vegi-tray-o-crap home with her yesterday and made a big pot of spaghetti with smoked sausages and salad. So, still had a great meal, didn't require any additional ingredients, so no money was spent, but I still have a vegi-tray-o-crap in the fridge at work screaming at me. Think it's too gross to even attempt to "fix" now?
Hey, a 'fix' is worth a try - what's one day in fridge!

Upbeat
07-08-2008, 11:52 PM
Here's a budget saver that most Canadians do, but I'm not sure about the rest of ya. Try sheperd's pie instead of a pot pie. There's no need for a crust because you use mashed potatoes (with cheese ...totally optional, except if you're me!) to top it and while I make mine with ground beef, I'm certain any meat you choose to use would be good. I've been told that classically you're suppoed to use leftovers from a roast beef dinner (the roast itself, gravy, corn and mashed potatoes), but I prefer the ground beef (yes I have tried it the other way). Simply put your meat in the bottom of a casserole, cover with gravy (I add sauteed mushrooms and onions), cover with corn (or other veg), top with mashed potatoes sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about half an hour until bubbly.
...love the stuff! Thanks for the reminder. I just happen to have leftover mashed spuds in fridge. ...set to go for tonight.

stormie
07-09-2008, 03:03 AM
Oh, Kitrianna--I had forgotten about Shephard's Pie. Thank you!

jennifer75
07-09-2008, 07:00 AM
Guess who's crappy-one day in the fridge-vegi-tray spruced up with some soy sauce was FABULOUS with some asian style chicken for dinner tonight!??!!?

Mine!!!!

drachin8
07-09-2008, 06:33 PM
LOL, I actually just made some shepherd's pie last night. Carrots, onions, half pound ground beef, half pound italian sausage, frozen peas, and a bit of broth with herbs and a Tbsp of tomato paste, all covered with yummy mashed potatoes and baked for 40 minutes. Cheap and easy and it will feed my husband and I for a few days (having some for lunch today!). I've made it with leftover lamb and other meat combinations before as well, chopped up into small pieces. Great use of extra meat and whatever veggies may be laying around.

If I were smart, I would have topped my potatoes with some fresh grated parmesan cheese, though (which is a reminder--buying blocks of cheese instead of pre-grated is usually a money saver). Why didn't I think of that yesterday?


:)

-Michelle

stormie
07-09-2008, 06:51 PM
If I were smart, I would have topped my potatoes with some fresh grated parmesan cheese, though (which is a reminder--buying blocks of cheese instead of pre-grated is usually a money saver). Why didn't I think of that yesterday?
Good one--buy large blocks of cheese and grate it yourself.

jennifer75
07-10-2008, 09:06 AM
So I made my first batch of shepards pie in the skillet!

I cooked up ground chicken, seasoned it, and when it was just about done I threw in some sliced up mushrooms.

With my boiled potatos I mashed them up and added the Kale I just cooked up with a little garlic. Chopped, I mixed the two together.

Then I added the mashed potatos to the ground chicken mixture blended them up in the skillet and topped them with about a cup of shredded cheese, coverd and simmered long enough to melt the cheese.

It's not quite a loaf, or a pie, but it sure is yummy!!!

And that is what I do to beat farked up high prices in the markets!

threedogpeople
07-10-2008, 08:10 PM
I use leftovers to make tacos or burritos all the time. A couple of days ago I had some chicken leftover. I removed it from the bone and set it aside.

Then, I did a saute of onion and peppers. When that was almost tender, I added a diced, left over baked potato. I browned/heated the potato.

I dumped in a small can of salsa verde sauce (<$1 per can), a can of water, a handful of frozen corn & the shredded chicken. I adjusted the seasoning (garlic salt & red pepper), put a lid on it and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

I served it on steamed corn tortillas, with some extra salsa on the side (you can use the salsa instead of green sauce if you don't have any handy). YUMM!!

I could have put the chicken mix in the tortillas, topped with salsa & cheese then baked it in a 350 degree oven until bubbly & brown.

This is a mix & match recipe....I've also added drained kidney beans, diced zucchini, sliced carrots, left over rice instead of the potato, ground beef instead of chicken, flour tortillas instead of corn; it just depends on what is in the fridge & pantry. AND you can make a complete vegetarian version (add tofu if you want, brown it when you brown the onions & peppers).

Judy

Kitrianna
07-10-2008, 08:44 PM
Hey Jen, does your's stay together when you cut into it? Mine ends up looking like a mess, but as long as it tastes good, then all is well. ;)

jennifer75
07-10-2008, 08:51 PM
Oh yea, there's no cutting....just scooping. But it's tasty! I think I'm going to put it in a loaf pan with some more stuff tonight and zap it in the oven to get it a little more solid.

Kitrianna
07-10-2008, 10:07 PM
Never works for mine. mind you I just cook it int he cast iron skillet that I used to brown the beef in. I'm lazy :D

jennifer75
07-12-2008, 02:01 AM
Can cast iron go from the range to the oven? I never use my cast iron skillet......afraid of things sticking, but if its gonna get baked I may be more willing to use it.

Upbeat
07-12-2008, 02:21 AM
Food Savings update - made Kentucky Derby burgoo today with mostly left-overs - enough for several meals so will freeze some for that.
If you've never made it - sort of a stew with choice of one or more meats, browned & cooked - seasoning - your choice. I used salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, basil.
Cook chopped onion and garlic with browning meat & seasonings plus dash of worcestershire and white wine if desired.
When cooked, cover with stock, or water, and/or tomato or V8 juice.
Simmer all with diced potatoes.
When potatoes just done, add okra and baby lima beans, plus chopped fresh tomato.
Simmer 'til done. While you can make this in 1/2 hour, many Burgoo recipes call for cooking hours on end. (If you've no okra - that's o.k.)
...the thing is - you can use any on-hand meats or veggies - except - broccoli & cauliflower are not recommended for this.

jennifer75
07-12-2008, 02:25 AM
Maybe this should get sent over to the recipe index?

Also, how the hell did you come up with that name??? Kentucky Derby Burgoo???

Robin
07-12-2008, 03:38 AM
When I came home from the grocery store today, I announced that we are hereby cancelling dinner until further notice. Cereal and peanut butter sandwiches are all I'm offering from now on.



(I tried. If it were just me, I'd be perfectly happy. SOME people think they have to have meat and vegetables every day. Sheesh.)

HeronW
07-12-2008, 03:58 AM
--Shop in stores that offer lower prices on a variety of goods
--buy in bulk
--buy off-brands or house brands
--get a freezer and stock up on deals as dif. meats come on sale
--make your own rice blends, etc for much less than the pre-mixed ones
--don't buy pre-packed ready-to-eat stuff
--don't buy so much perishables that will go bad before you use them
--know what's in your cupboards, cabinets, and fridge before you buy more of what you already have and aren't using
--save the leftovers
--make your own salad dressing
--make your own soups
--bring your own drinks & snacks to games, on walks, movies etc,

Joycecwilliams
07-12-2008, 04:25 AM
I buy only what's on sale at the supermarket. If it's not on sale we don't get it that week.

I buy our breads/bagels etc. from a bakery outlet. For example Thomas' Mini Whole Wheat Bagels are 3.99 in the grocery store, the store brand is 1.99 but the outlet is .99

I also try to buy enough milk, etc. for the week, so I don't have to make an extra trip.

The grocery store I shop in has previously frozen (still frozen) meats cheaper than the fresh. I buy them. I save .50 a pound on ground round.

I also have a vegetable garden this summer and bought some blueberry plants.

I stock on items that are on sale.

L M Ashton
07-12-2008, 05:39 AM
Can cast iron go from the range to the oven? I never use my cast iron skillet......afraid of things sticking, but if its gonna get baked I may be more willing to use it.As long as it has handles that can handle the heat, oh yeah! And as for things sticking, that won't happen if the cast iron is properly seasoned. My mother's cast iron pans were better at non-stick than any non-stick pans I've ever seen.

Upbeat
07-12-2008, 05:44 AM
... how ... ....did you come up with that name??? Kentucky Derby Burgoo???

It's a stew by that name served every year at the Derby as well as in many other locations. Historically, Burgoo is said to have originated when cooked on old sailing ships.
Many Burgoo recipes can be found online.

bethany
07-12-2008, 06:00 AM
I recently went totally vegetarian (not quite vegan) for reasons that had nothing to do with money, but it has reduced my grocery bill significantly.

jennifer75
07-12-2008, 06:46 AM
As long as it has handles that can handle the heat, oh yeah! And as for things sticking, that won't happen if the cast iron is properly seasoned. My mother's cast iron pans were better at non-stick than any non-stick pans I've ever seen.

How do you season it??? And the handle is made of what the skillet is made of, no change in material.

L M Ashton
07-12-2008, 06:40 PM
The basic version of seasoning cast iron is that you scrub it clean so you've got nothing but bare metal, then dry it thoroughly, then coat it in a fine layer of oil - most suggest lard, I think, but personally, I'd use coconut oil since that's what we have. Then bake it at a fairly high heat for an hour or so, then coat it in another fine layer of oil and bake it again. Then it's seasoned.

After a cast iron pan is seasoned, never use soap on it and don't scrub off the seasoning. If you do, you'll have to re-season it. To wash it, wipe it out either with a paper towl or water or whatever (no soap), then dry it immediately. Some people will add a thin layer of oil, although I've never bothered.

Cast iron pans are not to be used to store food in. As soon as the food is cooked, remove the food to another container and clean the pan out. The acids from the food will wear down the seasoning layer, so you'd have to re-season.

My mother used the same cast iron pans for well over a couple of decades by the time I moved away, and they're probably still using them. The pans would have been seasoned once in the very beginning and never again since.

Since the handle is also made of cast iron (and assuming there are no wooden, plastic, or other parts), yep, it can absolutely handle a hot oven. It can also be used when camping over a hot fire.

jennifer75
07-12-2008, 10:51 PM
Fabulous!!! So I'm basically working with a cooking stone - no soap, and hot water and a scraper to clean. Love it! I have a pizza stone that I use to bake cookies and pastries, things with no juice, and its got a nice season going....I have a smaller bakers dish made of the same stone that once I let sit too long after using and had no choice but to suds it up. So its not too seasoned. I may do to it what you mention with the oil and baking, just to get it nice and smooth again. Thanks for the info!

Oh and btw.....watching the Food Network...
What did Rachel Ray do to her hair!!!

CatSlave
07-12-2008, 11:37 PM
Master the techniques of grain cookery: polenta, grits, oats, barley, kasha and especially rice.
Don't use prepared mixes and avoid 'instant' anything.
Learn to prepare dried beans of all kinds, from different cuisines like Mediterranean and Mexican.
Make your own salad dressings with the best olive oils, fresh lemons and herbs and different vinegars.
Buy your condiments and pantry items in ethnic groceries; much cheaper than the supermarket and you can experiment with new cuisines.
Invest in some ethnic cookbooks; study the different flavor combinations of your favorite cuisines.
A good starter cookbook that will teach you the principle flavors of 30 international cuisines is Ethnic Cuisine by Elisabeth Rozin.
Teach yourself the basic cooking techniques using fresh, natural foods.
Study the masters: Lidia Bastianich, Clifford Wright, Martha Rose Shulman, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Bradley Ogden just to name a few.
Watching Iron Chef is fun, but when you can take a bag of dry beans and a few handfuls of rice and some fresh veggies and turn them into a healthy feast, you really will be cooking.

My own next project is to learn to make bread.

As the Chairman would say, "Allez Cuisine!"

Upbeat
07-13-2008, 12:51 AM
CatSlave...your ideas = the best of both worlds: save money & eat like a gourmet.

Kalyke
07-13-2008, 01:10 AM
I recently went totally vegetarian (not quite vegan) for reasons that had nothing to do with money, but it has reduced my grocery bill significantly.

I just went to 100% vegetarian eating about a month ago. I still eat eggs and some cheese, but mainly a lot of beans and rice. Before that as a meat eater, I was more of a "flavor with meat" type, so I really spread it thin. I thought, why not, and cut it out totally. You only need about 10% of your calories through protein, so most people with a varied diet get enough from beans and such.

I am also stoked! Today I made stir-fry using peppers from my own garden!

VGrossack
07-13-2008, 02:56 PM
What an interesting thread! Making me quite hungry...

Here are a few more suggestions:

(1) If you pay to drink sodas or even bottled water, stop. If the water from the tap tastes bad, invest in filters. This saves a lot with respect to money and the environment.

(2) I saw a neat bit on CNN which showed a woman in Africa putting bad water in bottles and exposing it to a day of sunlight. The UV light killed all the bad bugs!

(3) Cook (much cheaper than eating out) with as little energy as possible.
A water heater with a coil in it is the fastest and least-energy costing way to heat water - better than trying to boil water on the stove; better than waiting for your water to run hot in the kitchen; even better (according to my husband, who is a physicist) than heating water in the microwave.
Cook on burners that match the size of the pan
Cook in as small an oven as possible
Microwave instead of cooking (I often nuke potatoes)

(4) Stretch out juice by mixing it with water

babybear
07-13-2008, 04:05 PM
I agree. Interesting - and topical thread. I live in NYC, where you can only buy what you can carry back to your apartment. That means more frequent trips to the grocery and a great temptation to order in when the cupboards are bare.

We're planning weekly meals more rigorously and making shopping lists. We're also eating breakfast at home, drinking the coffee at work and taking our lunches.

Our biggest challenge, though, is feeding our eight-month-old. We've only recently had to start to feeding her formula, and I'm shocked by the price. I'm still figuring it out, but I believe we're at about $40/week. I really feel for families out there on a tighter budget than ours.

Soon, we'll be graduating to baby food. Any suggestions on the most affordable way to feed a baby without sacrificing nutritional value?

-bb

L M Ashton
07-13-2008, 04:40 PM
Make yer own with a blender. That's what friends and relatives have done. Over here, baby food doesn't exist anyway, or if it does, it's even more expensive since it's imported, so no one uses it. Everyone makes/mashes their own.

cethklein
07-13-2008, 05:41 PM
How do YOU beat high food prices?

Two words:

Animal shelters.

(Ok that was wrong)

But seriously though, we eat a LOT of rice in our household, as in pounds of it each week. It's still cheap although the price is rising slightly. Food prices aren't bothering me as much as milk prices. I drink milk like it's going out of style and always have. Bloody hell, a gallon of milk costs upwards of $5 in some stores, it's ridiculous.

Upbeat
07-13-2008, 09:25 PM
In the summer, at least, veggie garden. A big part of that is knowing what to grow, in your area, that will return the best value and/or the best quality. Yeah, it's some work, but it's rewarding work, and you're exchanging work time for money, essentially.

caw

...good exercise, too.
We enjoy the fresh spinach and herbs from our small garden space.

Kalyke
07-14-2008, 12:00 AM
Soon, we'll be graduating to baby food. Any suggestions on the most affordable way to feed a baby without sacrificing nutritional value?

-bb

There are sites with baby food recipes. You can make a bunch and store it. I don't know but I feel you could freeze it, like in ice cube trays. I think that you could really save tons of money that way.

CatSlave
07-14-2008, 12:30 AM
Baby food: Keep a small covered saucepan with a steamer basket in the bottom for making baby food. Just steam a few pieces of whatever you're cooking for yourself; some carrot slices, a couple of green beans, a piece of potato, whatever. Season with a tiny pinch of salt or sugar, or leave plain. Introduce new foods gradually so you can determine if baby has any food allergies or dislikes.

My grandson is just starting on solid foods, and he was delighted with the plain steamed green beans I gave him. (We adults had them with toasted almonds in a butter sauce.)

I think if you feed baby real people food from the get-go, you'll avoid a lot of problems later with a finicky eater.

Also, NEVER EVER feed baby directly from a jar of food. The saliva on the spoon with cause the remaining contents of the jar to start fermenting. Use a serving dish.

blacbird
07-14-2008, 06:44 AM
Talisker. Or Laphroaig.

caw

stormie
07-14-2008, 04:23 PM
My sons loved mushed-up bananas. And yeah, they were eating just about everything--except stuff they could choke on--by the time they were seven months old. Just mush it up or hand it to them in little pieces. Saves a bundle.

Kitrianna
07-14-2008, 05:07 PM
Can cast iron go from the range to the oven? I never use my cast iron skillet......afraid of things sticking, but if its gonna get baked I may be more willing to use it.


Also remember to NEVER...I repeat NEVER put a cold cast iron pan into a preheated oven. It can cause the cast iron to develope cracks. Put a cold cast iron skillet in a cold oven and a hot pan in a hot oven.

A well seasoned cast iron skillet is what I consider to be the original non-stick pan, but mine haven't quite achieved that level of seasoning..yet. Mind you they're only a couple months old and I don't use all the pans as frequently as I probably should. (the 6 inchers seem to be good only for eggs and one egg at that. Kthrok never eats just one egg)

jennifer75
07-14-2008, 09:28 PM
Also remember to NEVER...I repeat NEVER put a cold cast iron pan into a preheated oven. It can cause the cast iron to develope cracks. Put a cold cast iron skillet in a cold oven and a hot pan in a hot oven.

A well seasoned cast iron skillet is what I consider to be the original non-stick pan, but mine haven't quite achieved that level of seasoning..yet. Mind you they're only a couple months old and I don't use all the pans as frequently as I probably should. (the 6 inchers seem to be good only for eggs and one egg at that. Kthrok never eats just one egg)


Mine is huge, its heavy too. Real heavy. Dangerously heavy. Just ask my toe.

Kitrianna
07-14-2008, 09:30 PM
I have 2 sets...doubles of everything. 10 inch, 8 inch and 6 inch. The 6 inchers are the useless ones. 8 inchers are good for grilled cheese.

jennifer75
07-14-2008, 09:32 PM
Ok so I wont be using my skillet until winter comes - if I have to season it for an hour in the oven at 350, I'll roast in my apartment if I do it now - in JULY.

Kitrianna
07-14-2008, 10:58 PM
10 inchers are heavy. One wouldn't think so, but they could do some major damage if dropped. And you should've seasoned when ya got it silly!

Upbeat
07-15-2008, 01:27 AM
Beat high food prices update -Saved $$s today making homemade crispy garlic croutons!
Split homemade biscuits - brushed with olive oil, mashed garlic mix - baked 300 degrees until brown & crispy. Better, far better and cheaper, than store-bought.

sassandgroove
07-15-2008, 01:59 AM
Can cast iron go from the range to the oven? I never use my cast iron skillet......afraid of things sticking, but if its gonna get baked I may be more willing to use it.


Ok so I wont be using my skillet until winter comes - if I have to season it for an hour in the oven at 350, I'll roast in my apartment if I do it now - in JULY.
LM Ashton's post is good. I would add that I sometimes use table salt and a wet paper towel or dish cloth to get off some stubborn stuff from the pan. If you don't want to bake it for an hour you could just season it as you cook with it. Just oil things well before you get to the point that it is seasoned. Also if you are in the market for a new one, some of them come pre seasoned. I love mine. I want a smaller one to compliment my big one. I also have a flat one I make pancakes or grilled cheese on sometimes.