Budget Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

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AnnieClaus

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I've been increasingly alarmed with the high cost of groceries.
What are your grocery shopping budget and meal planning hacks?
I need the extra money for gas! Hahahaha
 
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sweetpumkinpye

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It's tough at the moment isn't it? I really have never known a time like this.
I have been shopping the specials out of the supermarket catalogues and then making my meal plan with what I have.
Luckily DH and I have simple tastes so he is not fazed if dinner is soup and toast or a toasted sandwich every now and then.

Buying a little extra and making two meals from one helps us a little. For example I recently cooked 6 hamburger patties. We had 2 each with mashed potato and veggies on one night and the following night had hamburgers on buns with a lot of salads. If a meal makes more than you can eat, freeze the leftovers for a lunch or another dinner down the track. Keep an eye on leftovers, better to freeze then toss them out after a few days. If you find you lose track of leftovers pop a post it note on the fridge to remind you.

If you really want to make a special meal and it is too large for you invite a friend over to share the meal. Ask them to bring dessert.

Using things up. Food waste bothers me and I try really hard not to waste food. If veggies are beginning to look a little old we will make up a veggie tray bake. Toss all the veggies in a little oil and place on an oven tray and bake until cooked. A nice way to use things up.
If apples for example are passed their prime I will stew them up and have them with icecream as a dessert or make an apple crumble.
Old bread is placed in the oven and when dried I make bread crumbs. Citrus that is getting old, juice it and make an orange cordial.
If I find that things are just not being used I will stop buying them. For example if week after week we are not eating apples for what ever reason I will stop buying them. No point buying food that is not being used.

When buying food I prioritise when it is to be eaten. For example with fruit, we eat the strawberries first, then the melon and bananas, then the apples and oranges.
Storing things correctly helps with wastage. When I get home from the supermarket I spend a few minutes to process things. I open the punnet of strawberries and check that they are OK and no spoiled ones are hiding inside. I then store them in another container. Celery, I will take out of the packaging, check for spoilage etc and then wrap in aluminum foil, it will last for weeks like this.

Creating a little stockpile has helped us. When I see something at a great price and I know it is something we will use I buy multiples. I place one into my pantry and the others into my stockpile. Both our major supermarkets offer half price deals every week and I really shop these. If I see an item on half price I always buy 2.

Planning ahead. I already have a fair idea about what I need for Christmas baking, food gifts and Christmas and NYE. If I see the item on special and the use by date is good I am getting that item and storing it for later. A lot of items, flour, butter etc will be OK if bought now and stored correctly.
By planning ahead and getting most things you need for the week you will avoid "popping" into the shop for one or two things. You always end up spending extra while you are there.

Hope some of these hints help.
 
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jampss

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@AnnieClaus Yep ... right there with ya!
@sweetpumkinpye Wow, great idea list.

I do a lot of what @sweetpumkinpye said. For the freezer, I have a note pad that I keep what date I put in, what container looks like, and cross through it when I take it out to use. I have been using 1/2 lb of ground turkey in spaghetti and taco nights. I add diced roasted potatoes and other veggies to stretch it and or refried beans. The spaghetti, I have begun adding sauteed shredded veggies. I have to be creative as my DH IS PICKY and doesn't like veggies and I have to make them in non-offending bite sizes! LOL

I have been shopping the Aldi's sale items.

The other night, I made pancakes and added a shredded potato and tiny bits of onion and 1/4 of ground turkey to which I spiced with salt, pepper, and sage for a sausage effect. So, it was a filling Potato Pancake Breakfast for Dinner Night!

Buying the fruits and veggies that in season.

We have a prepper pantry, also.
 

Lori K

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OK, this turned out really long, so I apologize in advance. But here are a few ideas from my pantry to yours, and I've broken it into sections that, I hope, will make more sense. AND, I'm going to have to post this in parts.
EDIT to add: In looking over what I've keyed in, much of it has to do with time. If you're taking short-cuts in the kitchen, you're paying for convenience. If you are willing to spend a little extra time, you can truly save.

PART 1

Menu planning and cooking
  • Plan your weekly menu using what you have on hand and what is on sale. Make your shopping list based on your menu. No brainer ...
  • Menu plan for all meals, not just dinner. In doing so, you can accommodate the use of expected leftovers in the next day's meal.
  • Look through all of the grocery store ad fliers from your area, not just your favorite/regular store, and fill the remainder of your menu from what's on sale. Also, check the store's digital coupons (and gather other coupons) for what's on your list. Then, check your pantry shelves and cross off what you already have on hand.
  • Cook your meals according to your family size, not the recipe's size. If a recipe says it will serve 4 and it's just you, cut that recipe in half and make it for 2 servings -- one for now and one for later. Or, freeze half for another time, if you have freezer space. Because of my household size, I make 1/2 recipe of meatloaf, 2 mini loaves, and I freeze one for later. Leftovers tend to lag in the refrigerator until trash day. Work to reduce food waste.
  • If you know you'll have leftovers, repurpose them in your menu plan. I know that I can't eat an entire chicken breast. What's leftover will go on my menu as chicken salad for lunch the next day. Menu plan to take leftover meatloaf and repurpose it into sloppy joes or crumble it into chili. Use leftover chopped onions and peppers from tacos in a breakfast omelet on the next morning's menu.
  • Build a stockpile of items you regularly use when they go on sale. I use a lot of cream-style corn in family-favorite holiday casseroles. I buy it when it's on sale, not when canned vegetables are a featured "special" at the holidays, yet cost 2x more. I follow a blog that, at one point, suggested allocating an additional $5 per month to be used strictly for building your pantry. Using a store's "loss leaders", sales, clearance cart, good couponing, that minimal amount per month can really help. Work to stretch that $5 pantry-build allowance as far as possible.
  • Make sure you shop your pantry first, once you've built your menu for the week, so you're not buying unnecessary items. Refill that pantry when the items next go on a good sale; avoid paying full price when you re-stock. I inventory my pantry 2x year, so I know what I'm running low on, and will then keep an eye out for a sale.
  • I'm also re-teaching myself the art of cooking and baking from scratch, rather than using the pre-packaged mixes. Our country has become so accustomed to quick meals, "dump and mix", grab and go, pre-cut this and that. We've somehow lost the skills to make it from scratch. If you're someone who uses pre-packaged, look at the cost vs. using what you have on hand and making from scratch. And also look at the quantity. A pre-made cookie mix may look like a great price, but it may make only 2 dozen; a home recipe for the same product may yield 4 dozen. Yes, mixing from scratch may take more time, but it can be a money saver and you'll know what's in that product.
  • You can find copycat recipes online for those costly mixed spice rubs and packets. Using your own home-grown spices + what you may already have on hand, you can easily replicate a packaged mix. Mix up a batch, put them in a recycled jar and label, and you're good for awhile.
  • If you have over-ripe produce, use it in something baked. Those bananas getting soft and brown --> banana bread; tomatoes --> a sauce or spread, or dry / dehydrate them. An over-abunance of fresh basil? Pesto in a small jar and store in the freezer.
  • To save on utilities, multi-task your appliances or use a less costly method. While dinner is in the oven, whip up a batch of cookies, a cake, or quick bread and cook it at the same time (if oven temp is the same) or immediately after (with heat adjusted), reducing the need to pre-heat the oven (and the house, on a summer-like day, like we've been having) a second time. On a day that is exceptionally hot, use a crock pot, insta-pot, air-fryer, or other small appliance, reducing the amount of heat from your oven. If you're in an area that has peak billing for electricity, cycle your dishwasher overnight.
 

Lori K

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PART 2

Shopping
  • Don't be afraid to try a new store or shop at multiple stores -- even if you're making a second (or third) "shop" to get a few items they have on sale. Buy those loss-leaders! There's a store that I rarely go to, except when they put their TP and paper towels on sale -- $3.99 for a 12 pack of TP or an 8 pk paper towels. They also have good meat, so I'll check to see what's on sale, if I know I'll be making a run for TP.
  • Also, watch your non-grocery stores, as they often have a food section with better prices. I get quite a few groceries at Menards, of all places! They have a great selection of nuts, granola, etc., and when they put an item on clearance (ah hmmm ... granola bars), it's deeply discounted. And, around the spring/summer holidays, they have excellent prices on condiments.
  • Shop during off-peak times, when you can get in and out quickly. I tend to shop Sunday mornings (if shopping at Meijer), before the after-church crowd gets there. Also, check to see if your store has a "senior" day -- if that applies. My neighborhood store (non-big chain) offers a 10% discount on Tuesday for their senior customers. So, I watch their ads -- sometimes that's where I'll shop, other times I'll shop another store. It depends on who has what on sale.
  • Don't shop hungry!!!! Shop after you've eaten a full meal. It reduces the temptation to buy what you don't need, or a snack for the ride home.
  • There are some couponing and "sale" apps available; I don't use them, though I know some do. Many are not US-based (Rakutan is owned by a Japanese company) and they are harvesting your information for re-sale. I don't want to share information that could potentially be used to hack my debit or credit card. Your receipt typically contains the last few digits of your card number, and many of these companies require you to scan your full receipt. Do you want to give that info to someone overseas? I don't. But that's my decision.
  • Watch for a deal on a vacuum sealer. Buy your meats on sale and in family packs or get a bulk buy from a butcher's shop or meat market. Keep out what you'll use right away and vacuum seal the balance of the meat in meal-size portions and freeze. I buy a family pack of ground beef (typically 5-6 lbs.) and seal it in 1/2# portions, perfect for my needs -- 1/2 recipe of meatloaf or sloppy joes, or to make 2 patties for the grill. You can do the same with fresh produce, such as chopped green peppers, fresh green beans, onions, fruits, etc., freezing in the quantity that you typically use (3 c. grated zucchini for making bread, for example, or 1/4 c. chopped onions or peppers, if that's what you most often use). Label your packages with the quantity that's in it, and date it, for future reference. More importantly, with items like peppers, onions, and celery, if they are nearing their end of life for fresh use -- you know those peppers that are getting a little wrinkly or the onion that's growing a shoot from the center? Chop them, vac seal, and freeze for later use in soups, chili, sloppy joes, meatloaf, breakfast casseroles, etc. Don't let them go to waste.
Gardening
  • Plant what you can, where you can. Having fresh produce in your garden will save you from purchasing. I'm in a townhome, where my Home Owner's Association rules prevent me from planting any vegetables in the common flower beds (concern about attracting critters). Instead, I container garden on my 2nd story deck, and plant flowers on the front side and herbs, lettuce, radishes, etc. in the back-half of my deck rail boxes (supposed to be flowers only; what they can't see, they can't complain about). I've got pickle cucumbers coming up, along with snap peas (have you see the price of those at the grocery???) already in. Today, I'll be getting tomato and pepper starts, and will also be planting basil, parsley, oregano, and dill. The herbs will be used fresh all summer, and I'll also harvest and dry the excess to refill my spice jars for the winter. I can't tell you the last time I paid for any of those herbs. My chive plant comes back year after year (they spread, so I suggest planting it in a pot and cut it back regularly for use and dehydrating, and cut it back completely at the end of the season, before it goes to seed, or it will infest your lawn; the same goes for any mint plants). Yes, it takes time to grow and effort to harvest and preserve, but it is so worth it for the flavor alone!
  • If you can't grow it, find a farmer at harvest time, buy in bulk, and can or freeze produce for the winter season. Another lost art ... I grew up in an agricultural region in SW Michigan watching (and helping a little) my DM and DGM can. But, I moved to Chicago immediately after college and have lived a city / suburban life since. After I lost my husband (8 years ago), I resurrected my love of home canning. I have a rough idea of when different kinds of produce will come to market and follow a couple of my favorite farm stands on Facebook, so I see when they post that they'll "have our first asparagus this weekend" or "our peaches will be done by Friday." I'll time my family visits around harvest dates and buy in bulk from one of the favorite farm stands I've found, and I'll spend the next day or two canning. It may not always be as cost effective, but I know what goes into the jars. I've done various kinds of jams and jellies, tomatoes, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, cranberries, grape juice and cranberry juice, peaches, applesauce, green beans, squash soup, and a variety of pickles, among other specialty items I often gift. I no longer buy commercially prepared canned tomatoes, and rarely buy spaghetti sauce (only if I run out). I like my jams better than Smuckers. If a batch of home canned product makes too much, split the cost with a friend and get them involved in the process. And don't forget the u-pick option (if available) for reducing the price point of farm fresh produce -- especially apples and berries. Although putting up produce takes time, added to the pantry, you'll cut your costs down the line.
For example, I like to have a variety of jam flavors, but 8 jars / batch is too much for me. So I can them in a rotation and split the batch with my DD -- strawberry one year, raspberry the next, perhaps peach the 3rd year, giving us a variety over time, but keeping my supply to a point where it gets used in a 3 year rotation. A friend and I canned about 40# of roma tomatoes last year. In 2020, the first year we did this, he bought the first case of tomatoes, and gave me half of the finished product as a thank you for teaching him. Last year, he drove to Michigan when we bought the tomatoes (so, his gas, not mine), and then we spent the next two days canning them -- 2 cases for him (plain canned romas, for him to make sauces with) and a case for me (I made spaghetti sauce), and then I bought another case a week or two later of regular tomatoes (for stewed tomatoes and salsa), and then we bought two more cases of end-of-season roma 2nds and did another batch of plain romas -- one case for him and one for me. When I started canning pickles, I gave some to my DD to try, and my SIL asked for refills. Last year, we canned a couple of different kinds, and she's already asking if we can do more this year, because they're out.​

Other Notes
  • When I first started my canning re-adventure, I used my stock pot with a folded dish towel in the bottom for water bath canning. You really don't need separate cookware to water bath can -- just a pot that will allow 2" of water above the jar tops. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I bought a 23 qt. graniteware canner with a lift rack. And, I bought it well after the end of the 2019 canning season, so it was a sale/clearance item. Since Covid, I've not seen those kinds of sales. But you can find them used and at a better price point on some of the buy-sell-trade sites.
  • I bought my dehydrator (primarily for drying herbs and sweet potatoes for dog chews) on clearance -- it was a stackable six-tray model that had one cracked tray. Got it for under $20 and still can do 5 trays at a time. To keep the dried herbs from falling through the racks (one negative of this model), I bought a yard of large mesh window screening at the hardware store and cut it to fit my trays. Air can still circulate but the little leaves don't fall through. This way, I can dry multiple trays of mixed herbs (i.e. 2 trays of basil, 2 trays of oregano, and 1 tray of parsley) at the same time.
  • I bought my pressure canner used off Craigslist; I couldn't justify the cost of buying new, as I don't pressure can all that much.
  • I bought my FoodSaver vacuum sealer at Kohls when I got one of their 30% off sale stickers, and I used my reward points and Kohls cash, to bring the cost down even more. I buy "generic" refill bags off Amazon at a far better price than I can get locally.
  • My bread machine was gifted to me. It's not something I would have purchased, but it is proving its worth and reduces heat in the kitchen. And, I'm not sure I'd have the time or patience required for yeast breads (kneading, letting it rise, kneading again, 2nd rise), but I can work with dump and let the machine do the mixing, rising, and kneading.
  • Watch Goodwill, yard sales and buy-sell-trade sites for used canning / dehydrating equipment and jars. But know what the cost is in your area for new, so you're not overpaying. Canning jars and rings can be re-used over and over and over again, so in the future you'll only need to buy the flats.
  • If you're at a used bookstore or at the library, there is a wealth of books on canning. The Ball Blue Book is the typical go-to for people who are new to canning.
 
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sweetpumkinpye

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The Ball Blue Book is the typical go-to for people who are new to canning.
Don't be afraid to try a new store or shop at multiple stores -- even if you're making a second (or third) "shop" to get a few items they have on sale
Lori, some amazing hints and tips there, thank you for sharing.
I have the Ball book, it is a good one.

Over the last few weeks I have used my food budget differently. I shop my normal shop week one. Aldi and then Woolworths. I try really hard to stay well under budget and just buy only what is on my list. What ever is left over from that shop is my budget for week 2 where I go to Coles, shop their specials and top up.. What ever is left over after the 2 weeks is a bonus and I transfer that into my savings account.
I will be doing a trip to COSTCO soon and I know I will be spending quite a bit there, that is where my savings account will be used.
 
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halimer

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After all these wonderful tips I really don't feel like I have much to add. However....

The main thing I have done is figured out where I can get the best prices for the things I want/need.

For example, the commissary usually has the best meat prices so I generally buy whatever they have; the downside is that they do not have the variety in beef/chicken, etc that the regular supermarkets have. Some things are best at BJ's - mainly dairy productes, flour and most baking goods. although with egg shortages a possibility I get them whenever I see them. Now that I've said that, Costco has a better cheese selection.

I order my veggies from Misfits Market (odd looking organic veggies ) or get them at the supermarket or the Asian food store as necessary. I go to the local farmer's market when it opens but it is getting more and more expensive.

I'll get the sale items from the local supermarket if I have the time and patience. This week they have a sale on soda so I will have to stop by. My main weakness - aside from good bread - is a good, cold Diet Pepsi.

No one has good bread so my son brings it from the city or I make it in my bread machine. I also do most of my own cookie and cake baking and sometimes put up a batch of jam during the summer.

I do buy convenience foods when they are on sale to use when we are camping; I don't want to spend my time cooking.

And finally, I do like to try new things so I visit several specialty stores periodically and buy things that "look interesting".
 

sweetpumkinpye

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I'll get the sale items from the local supermarket if I have the time and patience. This week they have a sale on soda so I will have to stop by. My main weakness - aside from good bread - is a good, cold Diet Pepsi.
This is the benefits of reading the supermarket catalogues. Buying things when they are on at a good price.
We still enjoy things like a soft drink and are not prepared to miss out on those little treats, we still need to enjoy life. I do find myself stocking up so that I do not have to pay full price.

The 3 major supermarkets here are all very close together so it is not like I need to travel very far to get the best prices. I literally have to walk from one shop to the next and is no effort to save extra by visiting 2 shops.
 

Holiday_Mom

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Great tips, ladies! I read through them quickly but will review them again. Before I forget, I wanted to share one thing that came to mind as I read.

I track the stores that carry good prices on the items I like. I keep a running list of items as I run out and what store carries it. When I'm running errands, I try to think about the stores I'll be passing and if I need anything from them. It takes planning but it is helpful in not wasting time and money.

Gas is $4.99 a gallon now. Milk is over $5 a gallon. It's been a quick and steady increase.
 

Holiday_Mom

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Creating a little stockpile has helped us. When I see something at a great price and I know it is something we will use I buy multiples. I place one into my pantry and the others into my stockpile. Both our major supermarkets offer half price deals every week and I really shop these. If I see an item on half price I always buy 2.
Along those lines, I buy things I use in bulk if the price per [insert weight] is cheaper. Most of the time it is but every now and then it isn't cheaper. Like Lori, I buy family pack size of meat and break it down into smaller sizes at home to freeze.

Tying into the convenience cooking, I like to cook up my ground beef (tacos, etc.) and poach chicken breasts(shredded BBQ, cubed for casseroles) and then freeze it in portions that work for our family. I do this with pork products (ham, pork shoulder, sausage) too. It saves a step for those nights when you get home late and still have to cook dinner. Another thing we'll do is pre-slice onions, green peppers, etc. on the weekend. We keep them in the fridge to use at dinner for the week. It is the gift to my future self. :)

I really can not stand to be in the kitchen. I just hate making food. If I find a good podcast or video that I can listen to while in the kitchen, I am set and it doesn't bother me as much. Huge win there!
Planning ahead. I already have a fair idea about what I need for Christmas baking, food gifts and Christmas and NYE. If I see the item on special and the use by date is good I am getting that item and storing it for later. A lot of items, flour, butter etc will be OK if bought now and stored correctly.
I've done this for years. It was a huge blessing during the holidays in 2020. While we missed out on getting together with family and friends, we still had those special, unique foods that make the holidays "The Holidays."
I'm also re-teaching myself the art of cooking and baking from scratch, rather than using the pre-packaged mixes. Our country has become so accustomed to quick meals, "dump and mix", grab and go, pre-cut this and that. We've somehow lost the skills to make it from scratch. If you're someone who uses pre-packaged, look at the cost vs. using what you have on hand and making from scratch. And also look at the quantity. A pre-made cookie mix may look like a great price, but it may make only 2 dozen; a home recipe for the same product may yield 4 dozen. Yes, mixing from scratch may take more time, but it can be a money saver and you'll know what's in that product.
I pre-measure ingredients for cookies and brownies. For cookies, I keep the sugar separate since it's typically butter and sugar that are creamed together. You can put the ingredients into small plastic sandwich bags and label them. Then put them into a larger bag Zip Loc bag. I usually keep a note with the name of the recipe, the cook book and page number. Or just print off the recipe and tuck it into the bag. I use to do this for Christmas baking but now I do it for year round baking.
You can find copycat recipes online for those costly mixed spice rubs and packets. Using your own home-grown spices + what you may already have on hand, you can easily replicate a packaged mix. Mix up a batch, put them in a recycled jar and label, and you're good for awhile.
This is great for reducing the sugar and salt in the store bought packaged seasonings. Some favorites are: curry, Ranch, Italian dressing mix, Creole, Taco, and Pizza.

I've added more and more plant based protein into our diet to help with the rising cost of beef and chicken. I've substituted lentils for ground beef in meatloaf and meat sauce. Chick peas/beans go in garden salads, pasta salads and soups. I've also blended the beans to use as spreads on crackers/toast. I've used split peas in soups. I'm going to venture out this summer and try them in salads.
 

sweetpumkinpye

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Another thing we'll do is pre-slice onions, green peppers, etc. on the weekend. We keep them in the fridge to use at dinner for the week. It is the gift to my future self. :)
What a great hint. I like the idea of doing a bit more prep to save time later. Can the onions and peppers (we called them capsicums) be frozen?
 

jampss

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All my veggies tops or older produce go into a bag in the freezer and when it’s full, I simmer it up for veggie stock.
 
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Lori K

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This is great for reducing the sugar and salt in the store bought packaged seasonings. Some favorites are: curry, Ranch, Italian dressing mix, Creole, Taco, and Pizza.
My dad had really bad congestive heart disease, and my mom worked hard to reduce the sodium in his diet by making her own taco seasoning and the like. He lived for probably 25 years after being first diagnosed with a congestive heart, in part due to controlling his diet. So definitely an additional benefit to saving the grocery budget.
 

homemade4me

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Along those lines, I buy things I use in bulk if the price per [insert weight] is cheaper. Most of the time it is but every now and then it isn't cheaper. Like Lori, I buy family pack size of meat and break it down into smaller sizes at home to freeze.

Tying into the convenience cooking, I like to cook up my ground beef (tacos, etc.) and poach chicken breasts(shredded BBQ, cubed for casseroles) and then freeze it in portions that work for our family. I do this with pork products (ham, pork shoulder, sausage) too. It saves a step for those nights when you get home late and still have to cook dinner. Another thing we'll do is pre-slice onions, green peppers, etc. on the weekend. We keep them in the fridge to use at dinner for the week. It is the gift to my future self. :)

I really can not stand to be in the kitchen. I just hate making food. If I find a good podcast or video that I can listen to while in the kitchen, I am set and it doesn't bother me as much. Huge win there!

I've done this for years. It was a huge blessing during the holidays in 2020. While we missed out on getting together with family and friends, we still had those special, unique foods that make the holidays "The Holidays."

I pre-measure ingredients for cookies and brownies. For cookies, I keep the sugar separate since it's typically butter and sugar that are creamed together. You can put the ingredients into small plastic sandwich bags and label them. Then put them into a larger bag Zip Loc bag. I usually keep a note with the name of the recipe, the cook book and page number. Or just print off the recipe and tuck it into the bag. I use to do this for Christmas baking but now I do it for year round baking.

This is great for reducing the sugar and salt in the store bought packaged seasonings. Some favorites are: curry, Ranch, Italian dressing mix, Creole, Taco, and Pizza.

I've added more and more plant based protein into our diet to help with the rising cost of beef and chicken. I've substituted lentils for ground beef in meatloaf and meat sauce. Chick peas/beans go in garden salads, pasta salads and soups. I've also blended the beans to use as spreads on crackers/toast. I've used split peas in soups. I'm going to venture out this summer and try them in salads.
Mary try lentil tacos.......one of our favorites.....

Laurie
 

Lori K

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I freeze onions and capsicums all the time. I slice some ang chop some to use for less prep during the week. Chop and freeze celery for stews and soups.
I freeze diced onions, regular bell peppers, diced jalapenos, and habaneros. They will soften as a result of freezing. But for use in cooking, I think that's OK. I wouldn't use thawed frozen in a salad, though. It's a good way to preserve those items that are nearing the end of their best use as fresh. Onions can also be dehydrated for dry storage. I'd guess the peppers could, too, but I've not tried dehydrating them.
 

Minta

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Like many, I shop sales and stock up. There are different groceries stores including Aldis' 5 to 10 minutes from my job that I don't have in my home town. I scan their weekly sales and will plan to stop during my lunch break or on my way home from work to stock up on great sale priced items. I shop our local grocery store for perishables and sale items.
We are getting the garden beds ready to plant the veggie plants. There is a local gardener that sells any extra veggie plants he has at a cheap price and I pass his house on the way home so it's an easy stop after work to grab some plants.

I freeze any leftovers by day 3 that are still left in the frig. I have a container in the freezer for spaghetti sauce and 1 for veggies. When the veggie container gets full I will make a casserole or soup with it. When the sauce containers gets filled it's enough for a whole family meal.

Bake and cook from scratch as much as possible.

Plan lunches from left overs from dinners. When there are no left overs I make tuna as I always have canned tuna on hand. We pack our lunches every day.

Buy meats in bulk when I can get a good price, divide up and freeze.

I get my eggs from a local farm.
 

sweetpumkinpye

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Premiere Member
Apr 23, 2008
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Canberra, Australia
Plan lunches from left overs from dinners. When there are no left overs I make tuna as I always have canned tuna on hand. We pack our lunches every day.
I take my lunch to work every day I go. I cannot imagine how much I have saved by packing my lunch for work.
 

AnnieClaus

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Premiere Member
Nov 6, 2007
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Southern Arizona
Here are my tips:

* I figure out what I am doing for breakfasts and lunches and make that for the whole week. That way I only have to figure out what I'm having once a week and prevents running out to get take out. I bring the whole thing into work on Monday's. If it's a casserole, I bring the whole casserole in. If it's sandwiches, the whole loaf of bread comes in on Mondays. I do allow myself one day of the week to bring something different but I usually tell myself, "Eat what you have."
One problem- because the dishes are homemade and good everyone I work with wants some! ;)
* I always use ham bones, turkey, and chicken bones for soup stock/broth. It has WAY less sodium than canned versions and makes a lot! Freezes great!
* I do not buy tons of varieties of fruits and veggies. I found that is what leads to the waste. You can't get to them all. I buy a couple of choices of each and when those are gone, I can choose a couple of different ones.
I also eat produce that is in season. You will not see me eating asparagus (unless frozen) in the dead of winter.
Fall- apples, pears, squashes- such as acorn, butternut
Winter- Citrus
Spring and Summer- berries
* I despise food waste! Particularly if it is from an animal.
* I am not a fan of frozen dinners, pre-packaged dinners, rice mixes, those types of things. I worry about the additives and too much sodium.
* I will buy a pack of chicken breasts and freeze them individually in sandwich zip lock bags.
* I eat salmon once a week and buy a pack that I can take one out when needed.
* My brother has taught me a lot about brining meals to things. For ex: When traveling.
In Hawaii, he easily saved me several hundreds of dollars by bringing/buying stuff to have in our condo. Think about going out and getting a coffee every morning. At least a $20-$30 savings right there buy brewing it every morning.
Recently, at a concert, we had a picnic dinner in our hotel rooms Before the concert. Easily saved there.

What I need to implement:
* Container gardening for some veggies and herbs.
* Expand my shopping. We have an Hispanic grocery store and their veggies- while not always the prettiest, can be less expensive.
* Incorporate more vegetarian mains to save on the cost of animal protein.
* Maybe split big purchases with another single friend. We both used to do this thing called "bountiful baskets." It went away during COVID but I think they are starting it again.
You pay like $15.00 and you get a basket of fruits and veggies- but you don't know what you will get in that week's bundle. You get sooo much.
We could easily split one. That would be $7.50 a piece!!

Annie
 
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