Frugal Food Savings Tips
People are usually overweight because they eat too much and don't exercise enough. No big news here. It doesn't help when you go out to eat, and you get enough food to feed a small army. Ask for a container before you begin your meal, and put the excess food away to take home. This saves money and is much better for your health.
Brownies and Cakes
It is usually more economical to use packaged mixes when you make things like cakes and brownies. You can always add your own touches to make them special. For instance, one very decadent way to make brownies is to frost them twice- first with a mint flavored frosting and then with chocolate. Use a flavored water or club soda in place of the liquid to change the taste of the cake. The more water you add to brownie mix, the more cake-like the brownies. If you want them to be more like fudge, add a tablespoon of corn syrup. Stock up on cake and brownie mixes when they go on sale, and then be creative.
Some people think they have to follow a recipe exactly. This is not true. Many ingredients in recipes can be left out without any substantial loss of flavor. Cut out the expensive ingredients, and make your recipes more economical. Substitute when possible, or add leftover items from your refrigerator. Many of the best cooks I know just use what they have, and rarely open a cookbook.
When you open a can of fruit, save the juice. There are many things you can do with it.
Freeze juice for making popsicles, or you can add it to sauces or jello.
Add some sugar and boil juice to make syrup.
Combine different flavors, or keep them separate. There are both flavor and nutrients in fruit juice. Don't let it go to waste.
Almost all baked goods and pastry can be frozen. Check your area to see if you have a bakery outlet. Their prices are almost always cheaper. Make a trip once a month, and stock up on bread, muffins, pies and other baked items.
Buying in Bulk
You can save a lot of money buying food items in large quantities. However, sometimes the canned goods come in very large sizes. Don't let that stop you. After cans are opened, you can take out what you need, and the rest can be frozen. To freeze small amounts of liquid products, freeze them in ice cube trays and then store them, when frozen, in a plastic bag, in the freezer. This is very convenient when you just want to add a half cup of something like tomato sauce to a recipe. Another option is to shop with a friend. When you get home, you can split things up.
Always make the best possible use of your coupons. When possible use them when you can get double their value- either by using them on double your coupon days at your local supermarket, or combining them with another coupon. Many stores will let you use both a newspaper coupon for their store with a manufacturer's coupon. If one store won't let you do it, shop at a store that does.
Coupons in the Store
Always keep your eyes out for coupons and other discounts when you go shopping. A lot of stores keep copies of circulars near the front entrance, with the cashiers, or at service desks. You can sometimes also find them in the different department sections of the store- such as hardware coupons at the hardware service desk.
Before you go grocery shopping, check out the website of your grocery store. You will find a copy of their weekly ads there, as well as coupons that you can print with your computer. If you shop at several stores another thing people do with their coupons is search all the grocery websites with the coupons they have in order to find the best store to use them to double or triple the savings.
Day Old Bakery Items
If you like to pick up day old bakery goods, and others items put on clearance at your grocery store, shop early. These items are marked overnight and usually snapped up in the morning. If you don't know where these items are located in your store, ask. They are usually in the back corner of the store.
You can buy discounted canned goods that are dented, as long as the can is not bulging.
If you do not have a regular grocery store that consistently has lower prices, usually called a "destination store" because people drive out of their communities to get there, you usually save the most money by shopping at the store with the best ads for the week and planning your meals around the advertised specials. In our area the destination store is Winco. The prices are unbelievably lower then all the other stores. They are expanding into other states. Watch for them.
Store brands are usually cheaper than the same products with a brand name. Sometimes they are even manufactured by the same company - the only change being the label. When you see store brands on sale, it is usually a great sale. If you have the room, stock up.
Take it Back
Don't be afraid of taking back food that has something wrong with it. If your bread is stale or oranges have mold on them, take them back. Most stores mark their own food items, so they will know it is their product, even if you don't have the receipt.
Milk is expensive, but to most, absolutely necessary. If you see a sale, and you want to take advantage of it, buy extra and freeze it. Milk freezes well. You just need to take a little out of the container so it can expand, and allow a few days for it to thoroughly thaw when you take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator.
Chili is a great meal. Remember that beans give you just as much protein as meat and are more healthy and cost less. Chili is also easy to make, and doesn't need meat to taste good. You don't need to soak your beans overnight if you use a pressure cooker.
Make friends with the butchers in stores where you buy your meat. Most people are social, and do not mind being interrupted from their work to answer a few questions. Let them help you make decisions, such as which cuts of meat make the best pot roast; or what is the least expensive cut of meat that you can use for pot roast. You might also ask for tips on how to tenderize inexpensive cuts of meat. Sometimes the best questions are broad, such as "What are the best buys today, or what do you recommend?"
Nothing burns up your food budget more than meat. You can do a lot of little things, like extending your hamburger with rice or bread crumbs, but it is still expensive. Try and have a meatless meal at least a few times a week. When you do buy meat, go to a warehouse type store (like Costco) and buy it in bulk. Bring it home and split up the large packages. Not only does it cost less that way, it is usually better quality meat.
Most people access to a Farmer's Market of some kind. Even in the suburbs, you can find various places that bring in fresh produce. Check what is available in your area. The prices are usually good, and they provide more samples so you don't waste your money.
Be selective when it comes to buying your produce. It is tempting to buy produce in pre-packages large bags, but that can result in paying for fruit that has gone moldy or vegetables that are rotten. You just can't see inside those bags enough to tell. You will probably save money by selecting your fruit individually and choosing only fruit that is in excellent condition.Easy Dinner
Too often we think we have to make an elaborate meal for dinner, or it won't please our families, or fill us up. Don't over look having sandwiches for dinner. You can make them much more special with just a little extra effort. Add a few sautéed onions, or warm the meat or cheese. Use a special bread. Try a different type of lettuce or tomatoes. If you have a meat slicer, you can bake your meat and then cut it up into very thin slices for a quick and economical meal at a later time.
If you open a large jar of applesauce, and tire of it before it is done, there are several ways to use it up. Anytime you bake, and the recipe calls for an egg, use 1/4 cup of applesauce instead. This won't work in recipes with delicate flavoring, but cakes, brownies and cookies should be fine. You can also substitute applesauce for oil. A good substitute is to exchange 1/2 the oil for applesauce.
Never throw away fruit. There are so many things you can do with it. Just puree it, and freeze it in cubes. It can be used to flavor grains when baking, used in barbecue sauce, made into popsicles, put in smoothies, or added to jello.
Kids love hot dogs cut up in macaroni and cheese. Or you can make potato boats, which are hot dogs, cut length wise and topped with mashed potatoes and cheese.
Hot Dog Buns
When you serve hot dogs with buns, you usually have or the other left over. Don't waste them. Leftover buns, whether they are for hamburgers or hotdogs, make great garlic bread. Just butter them, sprinkle with garlic powder, and brown them in the oven under the broiler.
Keeping Track of Your Leftovers
You have a much better chance of using up all your leftovers if you can easily see what you have in your refrigerator. Here is one idea to keep you organized. Use some chalkboard paint on the inside of the cabinet nearest your refrigerator. Use chalk to write down all the leftovers that are available. When you eat them, just erase the entry. You are also going to save money by not opening your refrigerator door as much as just "browsing".
Meat is so expensive, you do not want to waste any of it. In addition to the usual soups and stews for leftovers, think about sandwiches. If the meat is dry, try putting it in the blender to break it into little pieces, and then mix with a small amount of mayonnaise.
Pick your meat carefully. Remember, meat is priced by weight. If it has a bone in it, it will cost more and you will get less meat. Try avoid buying bones, unless you plan on using them to make broth.
When you serve Spaghetti, always serve the pasta and meat separately. You can use the leftover meat to make a quick chili by just adding a can of beans or another meal. The pasta can be put in soup, or you can make casseroles. If you put them together, it will remain spaghetti forever.