I agree with most of the others here...not all, how is baking your own bread cheaper? Here some brands of bread are on sale about every week, sometimes as low as $.88 a loaf.. Anyway, the dried beans, store brands and buying while on sale and bulk cooking, Great Ideas! I personally seldom buy fresh produce as it is my biggest waste! Potatoes (5# max), carrots, onions, cabbage are what I buy most often. Occasionally bell peppers when on sale. I buy mostly frozen fruits & veggies.
Do you have a freezer? If you do stock up on whatever meat is on sale. See if your store has a produce section for slightly overripe veggies, or buy whats on sale. Some can be frozen . Corn on cob, green beans, need to be boiled (blanched) about 5 minutes first, let cool, place in baggies and freeze, cut green peppers in half discarding the seeds then freeze, berries can be frozen whole. Stock up on frozen veggies when on sale, never any salt added to them as with canned. I often cook double batches then place one in a foil pan, top with aluminum foil and freeze,so I have a few premade meals in the freezer. Cooked pasta even can be frozen, place frozen pasta in a collendar and rinse with Hot water to thaw and warm, good for a hot day when you don't want the stove on, or for use in a a quick casserole.. Cooked rice can be frozen, reheat in microwave or place baggie of rice in boiling water until hot. Breads/buns can be frozen. Watch for sales, sometime coupons help if you use that brand or doubled, but compare, sometime store brands are still less expensive .Start slow, make a list of what you need, stock up can take time. If you can, use the food pantries to help stock some items. Do you mostly shop at the same store/s? Try explaining your situation with the store manager, he/she may be willing to help and let you take some of the food being held back in the stockroom that goes to go to the food pantry. Hope this helps-been there.
Fitness Minutes: (1,818)
771 8/21/13 1:22 P
Your bill will always be higher when you begin cooking because you end up purchasing a lot of condiments that you didn't have in your pantry. As your pantry grows, your grocery bill drops. I've been cooking for several years now and I rarely spend over $100 in a week.
This is my first week and I printed off the "shopping list" for my first week groceries and my bill was nearly $200. Eating healthy is more expensive. I do usually have leftovers from recipes I make so $8 worth of groceries will last a lot longer than $8 at McDonald's. Look for items on sale or store brand versus name brand items (they are usually exactly the same).
I enjoy tilapia but there is a better fish called Swai Fillet (pronounced swar) (Pangasius Hypophthalmus). It is thicker, has less taste and cost than tilapia. So this is great on a budget because you get more for your money. I didn't enjoy fish tacos until I was introduced to this fish. Now I even have fish tacos for breakfast. I also make a recipe called "Sicilian Fish Soup". You have the healthiness of the fish that does not over power the other ingredients. I add salad shrimp to the soup also. Enjoy!
Fitness Minutes: (1,565)
32 7/31/13 8:39 P
Fitness Minutes: (0)
7 7/11/13 2:48 A
I do a lot of cooking of "ingredients" in bulk then freezing in recipe portion sizes to save money, cook more from honestly scratch, and save on the "cooking and cleaning" labor; for years I did this in only the freezer in my fridge. For storage, I often freeze in soft-sided, plastic containers or glass bowls to effectively make 1 or 2 cup "chubs", pop the chubs out of their containers like ice cubes, separate each chub with a couple of pieces of cut-down waxed paper, and store in bread bags. Cooked dried beans, stocks, taco meat, spaghetti sauce, diced fresh tomatoes, and many more items can be done this way. Often, I will cook up a big stock pot of veggies and meat, or a crock pot of veggies and a lot of lean meat resulting in "flavored meat" that I will also freeze for use in salads, skillet dishes, casseroles, etc....
A lot of fresh veggies can be sliced, diced, chopped, and frozen in plastic bags for 1-3 months without blanching; the longer they are frozen, the mushier they get/the more useful for cooking rather than salads or amulets. I've done sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes more often than others. Broccoli and cauliflower can be frozen, as long as they are not particularly wet, in flourettes on a cookie sheet then transferred to baggies once frozen. Most berries can be frozen with no sugar added on a cookie sheet then bagged once frozen. Likewise, many fruits can be diced, sliced, mashed, and/or shredded and frozen for later use. This enables me to take advantage of weekly sales, seasonal produce, and "dead" produce either purchased at a price savings or rescued from the back of the fridge. Buying a little extra produce on sale and doing just a little extra prep work all at once can reap tremendous savings.
Periodically, I like to play a "game" of trying to not waste, discard, or toss anything more than I have to. Did you know that radish leaves are not only edible, relatively tasty, but also contain some great nutrients; try slicing them in 1/16" to 1/8" shreds and adding to a salad. The water used to cook veggies and potatoes can be used in place of water when cooking other dishes and/or a soup/stock. Those 1-4 tablespoons of left over gravy, dinner dishes, and veggies can be added to skillet dinners, soups/stocks, chili, spaghetti sauce, and other dishes. Sometimes, I will save these in the fridge and others in the freezer.
Spices remain an expensive set of ingredients. Consider buying a single spice once a week, every other week, or once a month as your budget allows. Consider buying from bulk containers. First, it allows you to buy just one recipe's worth or a small amount until you decide if you like that particular spice. Second, more often than not the bulk spices are FAR cheaper than the jarred spices. Oh, and many of the "frost free" fridges do a wonderful job of drying out fresh herbs...If you find yourself with some left-over/un-used fresh herbs, try spreading them out on a cookie sheet and placing the cookie sheet a-top what ever else is in there for 12-24 hours; often, you'll end up with dried out herbs ready for use later on with no additional work or electricity required.
For an assortment of reasons ranging from health to cost, I'm currently reviewing what I consider "from scratch cooking". Pancakes, waffles, and quick breads did not always originate in a mix, bag, or box. Potatoes do not originate in the freezer case and people were able to make flavored rice before Rice-a-Roni came to our grocer's shelves. I haven't done it yet but, it looks like if you don't care about the shape or dimension of your noodles, they are pretty darned cheap to make; if you use them fresh, you don't even have to worry about hanging them on drying racks in a low humidity environment either. Even "full-flavored" (sugar, fat, salt) versions of many sauces, dressings, seasoning mixes, and dishes are often "healthier" than their bagged, boxed, and partially pre-pared versions; with a recipe, you have the choice and the ability to reduce, adjust, and substitute too. If you can find some of the WWII, 1940's recipes, they tend to lower on sugar, eggs, and dairy fat.
Fitness Minutes: (10,000)
214 7/10/13 5:12 A
Cooking in bulk and freezing portions not only allows you to buy in bulk, but also saves on your energy bills. Stews and soups with loads of seasonal vegetables freeze very well, as do cooked pasta (with or without sauce) and cooked rice. Also, bulk your dishes out with soy chunks, lentils, beans and other pulses for more fibre and protein without the expense of meat!
Depending on how much time you have, have you considered baking your own bread? It's pretty easy, it just takes time. Even easier if you have a bread machine. I've never had much luck with using a starter instead of buying yeast, but if you did that you wouldn't even need to buy yeast every time. A lot of people find it's too messy or is a lot of hassle, but bread here can reach $4-$5 per loaf and the budget minded in me just gets annoyed at that.
Another thing I do is to make chicken stock from chicken carcasses. I use this recipe here:
The straining out of the broth is time-consuming, but it's a great money saver. With the stored broth I make my own soups, and I also use it to flavor rice & beans & lentils, and I don't have to buy the expensive box stocks or the extremely salty bouillon cubes (although those cubes can be super-cheap).
Fitness Minutes: (1,496)
2 6/23/13 9:29 A
We save money using batch cooking. When a store has a great price on chicken (or pork, or whatever) I might spend several hours on a weekend cooking 10-15 meals and then freeze them in portions big enough for dinner with leftovers for lunch. Even when all I had was the little freezer over our fridge, I could fit 30-45 meals in it by using freezer bags.
When canned food goes on sale if it's something we use a lot of (like tomato sauce or canned diced tomatoes) I'll stock up and store the cans until I do a cooking day.
We also look for farm stands out in the country. The farmer's markets around here mostly charge the same or more than the grocery store, but farm stands or the farms that offer u-pick deals tend to be much better quality and cheaper as well.
Depending on what you can grow yourselves, another option is a CSA (community sponsored agriculture) if there are any in your area. You get a certain amount of fruits and vegetables on a set schedule and while you might have to learn to cook some odd things, they also tend to be cheaper than buying at the supermarket.
Fitness Minutes: (200)
7 6/21/13 3:28 P
I have a few choices of grocery stores out in Idaho. I shop at the ones I know I can get the best deals at.
Frozen veggies and store brand food. Do you have a choice in grocery stores? I know in NYC, there were a ton of different stores to choose from and depending on which one, the prices would be cheaper, sometimes by a lot. Buy in bulk, when you can.
Fitness Minutes: (715)
20 6/20/13 4:41 P
Check if WIC lets you do the canned beans. I have a few kids on WIC and we can get canned ones. I don't have to plan in advance and I have a lot more sucess with them. I'm a pretty good cook but I just flop when it comes to dry beans. Lentils are a lot easier.
Fitness Minutes: (26,528)
1,070 6/19/13 8:45 A
Dry beans- I soak overnight and then cook in my crock pot Frozen veggies- I buy the store brand ones and they're $1 each. Bulk oatmeal (barrel of it, not the individual packets) rice
There are certain items that I only buy when they are on sale because they always go on sale at some point during the month- cheese, chicken, dry beans, various produce items, bread etc
Also, if your store has the option, sign up with your store card online. They email me coupons that load right onto the card. You can also check the weekly circular online to make a shopping list before you go.
Do you qualify for WIC? I know when I was a single mom in school it was super helpful. If not, would they let you come to some of their sessions anyway? In order to get my checks, I had to go to one WIC event/class a month or something like that. There were classes on nutritious eating using the WIC voucher items and things of that nature. I second the suggestion of dried beans, they are super cheap. Also, when something that is typically expensive is on sale, snap up as much as you can fit in your budget. I buy tons of meat when it's on sale for a good price. Also check the "manager's specials", which are items that are almost at their date. if it's meat and you freeze it right away, it will last a couple of months, and you can get it super cheap.
Go for seasonal, local produce, that tends to be cheaper.
Learning to cook with dried beans and lentils is a must for budget cooking, they do take planning (over night soaking) and longer cooking times, so it takes practice, but you can batch cook them and freeze the cooked beans, its what I do!
Fitness Minutes: (200)
7 6/10/13 4:23 P
Any suggestions for cooking healthy on a supper tight budget. I have five to feed and less then $200 a month. Carbs are cheap to purchase and kids like but I know that's not the best solution. We have a garden in and its growing okay. I live in a cool climate with a short growing season. Any suggestions would help! Thanks
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