Sunday, February 17, 2008

Frugal Living Part 1

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I've had a few questions about what we are doing or have done to save money. So I sat down and wrote down a list of the things that we've done or are doing at the moment to save and stretch our dollar. It's very rudimentary at the moment. And keep in mind this is what works for us, this might not work for others in their particular situation. Like, for instance, you might not have an expansive basement to hang laundry.
I plan on doing this in parts. And since I am in the kitchen most of the time we will start in the kitchen.

My husband gets paid bi-weekly, so after he gets paid I do grocery shopping. This is my method. We do not get a newspaper (one of the ways we save), but we do have internet and I can pull up my grocery stores sale ads for the week. I write down all the things I think I might use or need and then pull out all my cookbooks. Then I go to all my cupboards, frigde and freezers and write down all the contents. You can obtain nice little handi-dandi sheets for filling all this in at Cindy's porch. These are nice, but after you get the hang of it you probably won't need to print them off all the time. And I don't do this at every meal planning session, as I try to keep a running list, checking off what I use and adding what I've bought. I'm not perfect about it. Usually once I've gone through I have a good idea for a while what I have and what I don't have. At any rate, once I have all of the lists with me and my cookbooks, I sit down and try to plan at least suppers for two weeks. Since we have suppers with people and church functions I try to see if those are coming up and plan for that. If I am planning a special breakfast, say for Hubby's birthday or Easter Sunday, I write that down too. And I try to 'shop' from my home stash first, making meals that use the most of the stuff at home. Most of the time I need to get some things at the store, but my list is small usually everytime I go. Now, since we have a bit more money and a lot more room than our old house, if something is on sale and is a great price, I will stock up. If I know I'll use it and it won't go bad, I will get it and get as many as I can. Like diced tomatoes, we use a lot, they don't go bad, so I get a lot. But I only do this if I have some extra money. Like this week, 1# butter is on sale for $1!! Holy Cow!! That is unheard of!
Then with the list you've made up of things you need in the kitchen and around the house, go shopping. BUY ONLY WHAT'S ON YOUR LIST. Unless, you are like me and forget an essential because you use it everyday, like eggs and are like, duh, when you come to the diary aisle. But for things like Cadbury Cream Eggs, nope, sorry, you don't need it, your thighs don't need it, and your kids don't need it. I realize it's only $.50, but then you'll soon be rationalizing other more pricier things. It's a downward slope. Once you get used to telling yourself no, it gets easier and soon you'll know what you need.

Now for a few "Waste Not, Want Not" tips:
  • Keep an old bread bag or other ziploc bag in the freezer for bread ends, stale bread, bagels, english muffins, any non-sweet breads. This process of freezing and thawing makes the bread even more dry, which is perfect for making bread pudding, stuffing, plain or Italian bread crumbs. All of these things call for dried out bread. And this is the perfect way to save up for it. I don't use eaten bread, I guess I'm a germ-phobe. That bread gets thrown to the birds.
  • Save potato and/or veggie boiling water by freezing in containers. Use as stock in soups and stews or wherever veggie stock is called for. The potato water you can use for making bread, increases the nutritional value of your bread.
  • Save turkey/chicken carcasses for making broth/stock.
  • Save clean veggie peelings/scraps to make into broth. (I've not had a whole lot of success with this broth. Can't make the flavor come out right.)
  • Keep an eye on all things in your fridge. Clean your fridge out regularly. If a food has been in there for a bit, freeze it till you can use it later.
  • Make double batches of soups - freeze the half you don't use. Saves energy costs for you and your bills!
  • Take advantage, as your money allows, of meat sales. Like Thanksgiving, I bought two turkeys. You can make several meals from the initial meal. The same for ham. While we are talking about Ham buy a smoked shoulder portion - tastes just like ham, but since it's not called ham you pay less. Freeze the leftover meat in 1# portions in good freezer containers and use later in stirfry's, meat pies, casseroles, or shredded for sandwiches.
  • Eat more beans. They are much healthier - less fat, just as much protein and iron as beef and a tone more fiber. Much cheaper. And you don't have to worry about hormones or something bad in the beans.
  • Use TVP in your ground beef. Half it till your family gets used to the taste and texture. TVP is interchangeable in any ground beef recipe. It is made from Soy (what isn't these days) and takes on the taste of whatever you season it with. So if you want 'ground beef' use beef boullion. I've found, though, that it works well in baked products, like casseroles. However, it just doensn't cut it for chili. So I use ground turkey instead.
  • Which brings me to this tip, buy frozen ground turkey tubes instead of ground beef. It's healthier and cheaper and you don't have the worry of hormones. My family can't tell the difference.
  • Lentils are a great meat substitute too. We make sloppy lentils, lentil tacos and other such things.
  • Make your own bread. Buy the flour and yeast in bulk and you will save money. It takes some practice, but with time you will be able to make beautiful bread, sandwich quality, that your hubby will say, "my wife made this, isn't it beautiful?" (Yes, my husband has actually said that.)
  • Use applesauce instead of oil. It's cheaper when bought on sale, unidentifiable in baked goods and breads. Sneaky way to get fruit in. Buy unsweetened.
  • Save bacon fat for greasing baking pans (don't do this if you are trying to loose weight. Kinda defeats the purpose.) Make sure you keep it in the fridge.
  • Put in a garden and can/freeze/dry what you will use.
  • Lettuce, spinach, onions and most salad greens do not need bees - they can grow in a container in a sunny window all year round.
  • Freeze banana's when they get too brown for fresh eating. Save for banana bread, muffins. They come out really mushy and soft, perfect for easy mashing.
  • When making pancakes, waffles, make extra and freeze for quick breakfasts later.
  • Use nonfat instant dry milk reconstituted in your baking instead of fresh milk. Cheaper and easier on the thighs.
  • Buy prefrozen chicken, fish
  • Compare per pound on items at the store to see which is cheaper. Sometimes the brand is cheaper, especially on sale.
  • Make your own granola.
  • If you can get WIC freeze the cheese if you can't eat it fast enough. Use cheese only in casseroles and such. We found that our grocery bill went down significantly when we cut out snacking on cheese.
  • Make yogurt from the milk
  • Crackers are easy to make, as are bagles, breakfast bars etc.
  • Make your own Bisquick. Check out recipes for easy suppers online using your homemade version.
  • Check out this website for making your own baking mixes and such.
  • I highly recommend Miserly Meals and More With Less. The money you spend on these two books (which you can get used) you will save with meal prep. They have done so much for my family health wise and financially.
  • Walton's Self Reliance has a ton of information on it about beans and meat substitutes.
I hope this has helped. I know it's a lot, but keep in mind this was through like 3 years of research and trial and error. I'm sure I will change some of this to better suit our needs as our family grows. I've discovered, though, that when I was trying to loose weight, it also fit with trying to trim our food budget. The high fat, high calorie things were also high cost. So trimming the waistline and the budget can go hand in hand.

I welcome questions and comments and ways that you do something different or better. I am always trying to do what I do, better.



Anonymous said...

awesome tips! Thanks so much for taking the time to share. Perhaps when you have some time, you'd be willing to share your favorite frugal recipies? (bread especially!!)

Shannon said...

Great info! Your blog is busy lately :) I've never heard of TVP...

Chelsea Rae said...

That was a wonderful post!! I have been trying to be as frugal as possible lately and there are a few things there that I hadn't thought of at all! I agree with Sandy, I'd love more recipes.