#5714: Sure hallie. There was a great thread about this awhile back, but
Posted by: Dawn_MO at 9:09 pm on Feb 13, 2007
I am not sure if it was here or on the old swap. I don't know if you belong to a "club" like Sam's or Costco, but that is where I used to buy my staples like milk, bread, eggs and butter. I used to take cash only in with me as a deterrent to impulse buys.
I would look at the sales ads for the supermarkets, and make my menu around their sales. One thing to remember is that you pay a higher price for convenience foods than you do for making almost any recipe from scratch. During this time in my life is when I actually really learn how to cook. I bought things like rice, grains and legumes in bulk and stored them in airtight containers. Most of our meals used meat as a compliment to the dish. For instance, today I made the Spanish Barley-Brown Rice Pilaf I posted above, and added a half pound of turkey kielbasa and 6 chicken breast tenders. It probably made at least 8-10 servings at approx. a cost of $5 (for the entire dish, and I am erring on the high side). It is a healthy delicious filling meal and can easily be taken to work for lunch, if desired.
I could find whole chickens on sale for $.49/lb and would buy 4-6 of them at a time. Then I would cut them all up and package them into freezer bags. I made chicken stock with all of the carcasses. I would end up with boneless skinless chicken breasts for $.49/lb. So for an approximate cost of $15.00, I would end up with 12 each chicken breast halves, drumsticks, thighs, chicken wings and a gallon of chicken stock. I would further bone some of the chicken breasts. I am not saying it was easy, but it was a tremendous cost saving task.
Since I had a stand up freezer, I could buy extra turkeys and hams when they were on sale during the holidays. I would have the butcher cut some of the turkeys in half and the hams in three pieces. That way you could make meals from these but not be inundated with leftovers that everyone gets sick of. I would use the end piece of the cut-up ham for split pea, black bean or navy bean soup. With the turkey, I would make a turkey dinner with the trimmings, and then use leftover turkey for soup or casserole, then make stock with the carcass.
It helps a lot if you use seasonal vegetables when making your menus. My sister who is infinitely more organized used to keep a notebook with her week's menus so she could look back and see what she had served. She made notes next to recipes as to whether her family had liked them or not, so when she was uninspired she could look back and utilize her past menus.
Ground beef or turkey is a great inexpensive protein source. My husbands abhors ground meat with filler in it, so I wasn't able to utilize things like meatloaves or meatballs very often. Both are very versatile and make great leftovers. There are a few meatball soup recipes that are very good and inexpensive to make: Ron's Meatball Minestrone, and Cilantro Meatball Soup. Also Greek Meatballs over Zucchini, Swedish Meatballs and Meatball Subs. All easy, inexpensive and tasty.
Soups are very economical as are casseroles. When you make big batches of foods, be sure to freeze some in individual servings to take for lunches during the work week.
In a lot of recipes that call for a pound of a very flavorful meat, such as kielbasa, Italian sausage, chorizo, etc., you can usually cut it down to a half a pound of meat for the recipe. You still get the flavor with only half the cost and half the fat from the sausage.
In the summer months when produce is abundant at reasonable prices, or you grow your own, you can blanch and freeze vegetables and fruits to use during the rest of the year. In the past I have bought a lug (12 lbs) of asparagus, when they were $.99/ lb and pickled them, and canned them. Also red bell peppers when they were $.99/ lb and roasted them and froze them in zip loc bags. The same with fruit, ripe strawberries, apples, peaches and other in-season fruits and made jams and butters with them.
I found and still find being frugal in the kitchen, an exercise in creativity and determination. Especially after a recent bout with drive through sticker shock at a local fast food restaurant. Accckkkkkkkkkkk. All I could think of was how much healthy food I could have made with the same amount of money. It is definitely worth the extra work. I will post some recipes if you would like, just let me know the kind of recipes that you would like. Good luck and have fun with it.
Sometimes you just need to look reality in the eye, and deny it. �Garrison Keillor