Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Frugal Food

Every so often, Mom will let me have "a week of cooking;" I get to shop for and make all the meals for a week! I've been thinking lately about asking her to let me have a week this month.

There's just one little problem.

I always run the food bill way up over what Mom gets. She's perfected the art of shopping frugally, and I want to be a good steward too, but I can't seem to catch how to do it. It's depressing to put all the work into making a good menu and shopping list, and then go to the store and see the checkout screen register $25-$30 more than what it does when Mom goes shopping. Mom gives me tips and help, but I still seem to do something wrong.

Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman providing food for her household and, from the context, I would assume she was pretty frugal about it, though the meals must have been delicious. So I don't feel like it's wrong to make a study of frugality.

And today I'd like some extra help. I'm making a list of foods from the store that I know don't cost much. Of course, I wish our garden was producing more than just lettuce and peas at the moment, but that will have to wait until later this year!

Here's what I have so far:

Dried Beans
Canned Tuna Fish
Frozen Veggies? (can't remember how much they are)

As you can see, this is by no means an extensive list. Can y'all help me out? What foods do you buy that are cheap? AND ....what meals do you make from them? (Isn't that just as important?!!)


Donielle said...

Wish I could really help you out, but I'm still working on getting my own budget down! I'm big on using coupons though and save a lot that way. I take the store flier and base my meals on only what's on sale, normally saving between 30 and 60 percent each week. Otherwise I make all my stuff from scratch, like breads and such. I also buy whole chickens as they go farther than just buying boneless skinless breasts. You can also stretch ground beef by adding in some oatmeal after it's done cooking.

Cajunchic said...

Buy staple items like flour, cornmeal, etc then begin making things from scratch. Cut out processed snack foods and eat fresh fruits and veggies. those two things will cut your bill drastically. For some great ideas go to www.hillbillyhousewife.com

Anonymous said...

Go to the Hillybilly Housewife website and look at the $45 and $70 emergency menus to get some ideas.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

Okay, first tip: substitute. If a recipe calls for a red pepper, sub a green one if they're cheaper, etc. Sometimes you can leave things out and no one will even notice!

Some recipes I like to make:

Kielbasa Skillet
Chickpea-Stuffed Shells
Tasty Lentil Tacos
Seven Layer Tortilla Pie
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Split Pea Soup
Baked Lentils with Cheese
Garlicky White Beans and Broth

Mom2fur said...

The very first thing you want to do, sweetie, is to check your pantry, fridge and freezer and see what you already have on hand! Then go to this site: supercook.com

Make a list there of what you have on hand, and it will give you recipes you can make without even going to the grocery! Or...it will list recipes where you need just one or two ingredients. Tasteofhome.com and Allrecipes.com are two other great places for recipes where you can search by ingredients-on-hand.
You might want to re-think canned tuna unless it's on sale. Check out the cost per pound and it might be cheaper to get something else.
I would also buy a whole chicken and boil it up. You can use the broth for gravy, or soup, or freeze it for later. When the chicken cools, you can pick it off the bone and use it--much cheaper to do it this way than to buy boneless cutlets!
Don't forget tortillas! Everything tastes great wrapped up in a tortilla, LOL! (You could even make your own--they are easy and there are recipes everywhere for them! In fact, I'm sure Tammy has one!)
Good luck and be encouraged! I'm married over 27 years and have only recently gotten the hang of frugal shopping in the last two or three years. I promise, you really will 'get it'!

Anonymous said...

I work in a large grocery store ... keep in mind, especially these days, that the prices of groceries are rapidly increasing! (at least in NY!)

So take heart if your total is a little above your Mom's ... and remember your Mom probably didn't learn it overnight. =)


Kirstin said...

Hi Amber! Good for you going for it! We are on a somewhat strict budget. I definately find that it depends on where you shop. We live in the Northwest and have a wonderful store "WinCo". I buy lots of veggies and fruits (what kind depend on how much). We love tuna casserole, grilled chicken and veggies with potatoes. We are only a family of 4 though, so food will not be as expensive for us. Soups are always great as well. If you check my blog I have some recipes there. I stay away from a lot of processed things and buy in bulk as well. I keep things pretty simple to keep the budget low. I also carry a calculator. Here's what I do:
Decide ahead of time what meals you want to make, then see what you have in the pantry (or reverse this), then add to your list whatever else you might need. Then go and do your shopping.

Lynn said...

Pasta is usually cheap depending on what you put on it. I think this is hard to answer since I don't know what your tastes and cooking ability are. Casseroles are always a good meal in one and usually not to costly. You said your garden has lettuce. How about a taco salad or a chicken and black bean type salad over the lettuce. I have recipes on my site but I am not sure if they would be ones you would like. Try to check out allrecipes.com or tasteofhome.com both of those have great recipes for all sorts of things. I hope that helps.

Claire said...

I'm sure you already do this, but buy generic stuff! Abz and I were at Food Lion with Grandpa the other day, and they had two baskets of food. One was all generic brands and the other name brands. Abby said something about the brand name items totaling up to around $100, and the generic items, I believe she said the total was under $50.

Abigail said...

Hi, Amber!
Claire sent me a link to your blog. This particular post put me in mind of something our cousins introduced us to. Every day of the week is someone else's day to be their fault. So it goes like this: "Who spilt the juice on the floor?" "Well, its Julia's day, so it must be Julia's fault." Another great thing about it is that "Not Me" now has a particular name! (This is all for fun of course.)