Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post#120: The Frugal Gourmet (Remember Him?)

Budgeting is not new to me.  I have been a "budget"er since my mid teens (not so long ago), when I found out that credit could not be depended on and would in fact come back and bite you where the sun don’t shine if abused. The more I did the tedious task of balancing my check book, shopping per unit item, looking at needs instead of wants, and recalling the hours it spent for me to work to afford what I was buying, it did not take me long to start saving or at some points in my single-mother life, to not go negative!  I was relieved, liberated, and secure.

Now with things being the way they are, it seems we are being challenged to save by being even more resourceful and frugal than in the recent past.

I love challenges. I love to save.  Me saving money brings the image to mind of Lucy shaking her piggy bank as she earns nickels from the Peanuts gang before listening to their comical woes.  “I just love the sound of money”,  Lucy says. Now, I hear she would have to charge about 47 cents just to keep her practice afloat.

From Lucy

My contribution to the household, besides being absolutely amazing, is to find ways to save on household goods. The main area where I and most households can save is on groceries.  I have never been a coupon clipper. In fact, most the coupons out there do not help me out one bit. They usually are for items that are higher end than I would buy anyway (I usually stick with store and generic brand, usually) or I would have to purchase more than I would use to "save" at all.  If I find good coupons, I will use them, but for me, good coupons are few are far between. I just stick to substitutions and staples.  I have also been doing my research, again.

Here are some sites I would like to share with you and some tips that I use every day for my family of six (3 kids, 2 adults, one itty bitty baby).

First, the sites:

Next the tips:
  • Use cut up meat in dishes, instead of, individual servings.  You can use less meat and add different textures to the meal. I cut up grilled chicken into sauteed green beans, served with a side boiled potatoes. This way I use 2-3 chicken breasts, instead of, 5-6.
  • Use plenty of grains, seasonal veggies, and legumes (all three are filling and cheap)
  • Look at all flyers and see what stores have meat you use on sale. I look for the big three: chicken, pork, and beef.  Only make special trips if and only if it is worth your time!
  • Substitute breakfast for dinner as often as possible. Everyone loves pancakes and kids love cereal!
  • Try loaded baked potato night with cheese, chili, and sides. Leftover meat works great, too!
  • Have soup night with day old bread (sold super cheap at stores). For heartier soups, puree in a blender half of the cooked soup then add back into the non pureed soup and mix. This will thicken the soup and add a creamier texture.
  • Homemade burritos and tacos are cheap!
  • Meatless Pasta dishes are better than they sound, but if you need meat, add in crumbled bacon!
  • Buy bacon, eggs, milk, and bread on sale and freeze! Yes, eggs can be frozen.  Here is how:
  • Go back to simple desserts. I hardly find anyone who hates pudding, Jell-O, or real cookies with  on-sale ice cream.
  • Serve tea. Growing up we had four options for drinks; tea, milk, Kool-Aid, and water. Omit milk.
  • Go generic on things you can flavor up. I go generic or store-brand on almost everything! If you are loyal to a product, this will be tough. I am loyal to Gain, Dawn, Oscar Mayer turkey bacon, and Sara Lee Soft and Smooth bread. Other than that, show me the money!
  • Speaking of Oscar Mayer, sandwiches are also great for budgets, especially my favorites: PB&J, PB&banana, and PB and honey!
  • Fall back in love with casseroles and crock-pots. Remember these are usually dishes that you can modify to work with your pantry stock, plus they are super easy.
  • Look for recipes on back of the labels. Usually, they can help you plan an affordable meal with what you are about to buy.
  • Last, but not least, plan ahead. Menus really do work and you do not have to worry about answering,”What are we having for dinner?”

I know I can still probably save a little more than what I do now. This is my new challenge: How low can I go in the thrifty food limbo? The kind that uses the stick, not the theological place.

I am really interested in hearing what you have to suggest or recommend, especially those of you who are whizzes with coupons!!!


Mermaid Sweets said...

Wow, thanks for all the good advice. I could certainly stand to be a lot more frugal.

Christina Kim said...

Nowadays, we all need to be a bit more frugal, so thank you for your suggestions! I am a grad student, so I, too, have a serious need to be on a budget. It is tough, though.

Dragana said...

Coupons don't work for me because they are mostly for overprocessed, prepackaged 'food' I never eat. Shop the perimeter or the grocery store: Buy more veggies and fruit -that'll save you money!

Barbara Bakes said...

I'm not a big couponer either. Thanks for the great tips!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I love the tips!

Ginger said...

Thank you for all the tips and advice.

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Great tips. I only use coupons for things I am brand loyal to (Tide, Cascade detergent, etc.). I need to reign in my grocery spending too.

Julie said...

I love all the tips...we've started doing the baked potato night on sunday nights. It's easy too when I'm not wanting to make a big mess in the kitchen.
I do remember the Frugal Gourmet..I used to love to watch him. I always had a hard time believing the stuff that was written about him, it made me sad.

Hayley said...

Great tips! I've been living pretty frugally these past months (though it's gotten better now that I'm out of NYC) and it's nice knowing there are little tricks out there so at least I don't feel like I'm wanting for anything! (I actually re-acquainted myself with ramen there for while...part of the whole adventure of being a student!)

Kayte said...

Great tips and reminders for all of us!

Life with Kaishon said...

I am not a coupon user either for the exact reasons you stated. I alwmost always buy generic and I never remember the coupons that I clip any way! I love these tips!

Carol Peterman said...

Great cost-saving suggestions. I clip coupons for things I would buy anyhow, but most are for things not on my shopping list.

I used to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts, but now I buy whole chickens and cut them up myself, which is cheaper, but more importantly I get the bones so I can make stock!