We came from here:
A lot to take in - I'll have to sit down and process all this new information. We're in the middle of transplanting the last few plants that need to placed in fall.
We had a guy over for supper last night and he took some of our homemade bread home with him, swearing that he'll be looking for a bread machine.
I agree that the credit card companies don't care. We're not in a position to pay it off and I feel that we have little bargaining room. If I can just get through until summer and get my car paid off, those folks will get all their money and good riddance!
$40 a Week Grocery Challenge - Part 2
We came from here:
What a great thread. I read the last one right through.
May I join in?
I try to keep our food budget the same as yours but I also make sure I have a wee bit extra to spend on any weekly specials. For instance, if I see instant oatmeal on sale for $2.00 I'll buy 5 or 6 boxes of it. Enough to last a month or so. Butter was on sale last week for $1.00 so I bought 10 of them. Won't have to worry about it for almost 2 months. Same with fruit cups, they were also $1.00 for a package of 4 so I stocked up on them too. Great for putting on our oatmeal in the morning or for a nice dessert.
Today's supper was homemade cream of leek soup. One leek was used. Served it with a 99 cent garlic bread. Cost a total of 1.50 and fed 4 people (sent some over to Mom and DB). Two fruit cups for dessert...since they were on sale dessert was 50 cents. For a meat person you could put a bit of leftover ham in the soup.
Thought I'd report on some bread I made yesterday. I wanted to try 100% wholewheat but most recipes for that call for "vital gluten," to keep the heavier loaf from falling. I decided to try a loaf without it, though, and it rose just fine. I did leave the dough to rise in a warm room and additionally propped the pan over a pan of hot water, so maybe that helped ensure a nice rise too.
I make potato soup and cornbread for us a lot in the winter. It is pretty good eating and cheap too. If you must have a meat, you can get a center cut ham slice to serve with it and get about 4 good size servings for less that 4 bucks.
I like the individual size servings like fruit cups too, but it is much better on the wallet to buy the larger size in the can, unless you catch a good sale.
I love to catch things on sale too and stock up.
I do my grocery shopping on Tuesday. When I get home, the weekly grocery sale papers are in the box. I guess I need to get in the habit of checking the sales when I get to the store. I don't feel like I can change shopping days. I'm off Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, staying home to save on gas. DH needs to be with me and we ride together on Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday and Friday are the only days that I drive my car, costing me about $8.00 a week in gas.
We had grilled cheese sandwiches and soup yesterday. It had a handful of pretty much everything we could find - frozen vegetables, rice, potatoes, etc, with a canned soup base. I'm trying not to cook on Saturdays, but we had company (someone in a worse situation than we are). DH was trying to help him fix his truck, but they weren't lucky with that.
We did Freecycle for a while. DH ended up getting annoyed by the number of emails he got every day and really there is very little that we need. I'm getting started on a super-cheap Christmas list. I've applied for an annual leave payout that I should get in the middle of December. That will at least allow me to get a few things at the end of November and still cover the bills. I'm saving what little I can now to pay the property taxes by the end of the year.
I've got leeks growing already in the winter garden. Cream of leek soup with potatoes is a fond memory from childhood. My mom would fix it for me occasionally. I think it was from a mix. I imagine that the real thing would be wonderful.
I find myself now looking at things we have or thinking about things we've done and wishing that somehow we had that money back. DH has applied for a job very close to home. It would be a little less money, but he'd save the $60 a week he spends in gas. He's been reluctant to make a change. When they cut his pay (again and again), they made vague promises that he'd get it all back when things turn around. I am less optimistic than he is about seeing that money again.
I forgot to add that we did get a chest freezer a couple of months ago - swapped a nail gun for it. Now if my boss will only come through on the venison he promised us...
This message was edited Oct 25, 2009 8:33 PM
Pillita ~ thank you for starting a fresh thread! How large is your freezer? If you have it plugged in and running, it will run more efficiently if full. Suggestions to fill it are gallon bottles filled with water or newspapers. Those can be removed as you fill it with goodies. Also if the power goes off, it will retain temps better when full.
We shop on Sat eve and by then, the sale items have been wiped out. I thought of you this past Sat at the store. Thinking how much more cheaply I could shop without DH along!
What else is growing in your winter garden?
Do you like lentils? They are cheap, make you feel full and are warming on a cold day. Lentils cook up quite quickly also. I just found this on Wikipedia for you:
Lentils contain high levels of proteins, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine, and are an essential source of inexpensive protein in many parts of the world for those who adhere to a vegetarian diet or cannot afford meat. Lentils are deficient in two essential amino acids, methionine and cystine. However, sprouted lentils contain sufficient levels of all essential amino acids, including methionine and cystine.
Apart from a high level of proteins, lentils also contain dietary fiber, Folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%). Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Lentils are often mixed with grains, such as rice, which results in a complete protein dish.
Lentils are one of the best vegetable sources of iron. This makes them an important part of a vegetarian diet, and useful for preventing iron deficiency. Iron is particularly important for adolescents and pregnant women, whose requirements for it are increased.
I throw in all kinds of spices, including perhaps a pinch of garlic, a dash or two of celery seed, a dash or poppy seed, a sprinkle of ginger, a grind of black pepper, some cumin seed, a teaspoon of tumeric and whatever else I find. Sometimes I'll throw in rice and sometimes not.
Edited to say, can't make the quotes work, oh well...must be too early to think straight.
This message was edited Oct 26, 2009 6:27 AM
This message was edited Oct 26, 2009 8:21 PM
Auntie_A ~ edit your quotes... [ quote ] without the spaces which I did so it wouldn't box [/ quote ] again without the spaces. It'll work.
Thanks for the lentil info. I have some jars of them in the pantry.
I've been worrying about the freezer. Water is a good idea. It's a small chest freezer. I've high hopes for the winter garden to help fill that freezer. Planted: English peas, mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli, leeks, onions, rutabaga, lettuce, potatoes, kohlrabi, several kinds of radish, spelt, carrots, and beets. The swiss chard and brussels sprouts kicked the bucket in the heat and drought we've had in the last two months (less than an inch of rain in going on seven weeks). Every place around us has had rain, but none falls here. Peas, lettuce and radishes are growing. The rest are just sitting, waiting for the rain, even though I water them every evening. The only seeds I had to buy were the broccoli and cabbage; the rest I got in trades or were left over from last year. I've got sweet potatoes enough for several meals, but they should store well enough in the pantry.
The only items we've had in abundance since we acquired the freezer were okra, eggplant, cucumbers, and peppers. I concentrated on using those items to substitute or supplement our menu rather than investigating how to freeze them. I tell you one thing I've noticed in the grocery store. Used to, most people would be pushing full carts up to the checkout. Not anymore, everyone else's carts are as empty as mine.
About the venison - the Lt. (boss) said on Friday last that he and his son were going hunting over the weekend, but he didn't know what they'd do with the meat because their freezer was still full of last year's meat. I volunteered to take any he didn't want if he got lucky. Well, his son got one and so did he! So, after he gets back from vacation this week, I'm hoping that he comes through.
I love lentils because they don't require pre-soaking. It's good to know that they are so good for us.
If you have a slow cooker, you can put any kind of dry beans on in it without pre soaking, they will need to cook all day--but will be done at day's end. Nice when you work, to be able to come home and part of your meal ready.
I do not grow peppers, but take advantage of any kind of sale on bells--I use them quite a bit through the winter, just chop them up and put them into a zip lock bag, they freeze flat, taking up little room and you can break off a chunk to use easily. I also put onion in the bag, saves time when you are cooking also.
If the papers come on Tues night, then you have a whole week to get your list ready--they will still be on sale on Tues when you go to buy. Wal-Mart will match any sale ad on price, they will not do "buy one, get one free" type of ads. I was told it is up to the store manager which ads they match, but most do 50 mile radius.
1. Overripe bananas. Save up 3 or 4 and make banana bread.
2. Unused juice in ice cube trays, then bag. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of apple/orange juice, freezing the rest allows you to make the recipe many times from the same bottle of juice.
3. Cooked pumpkin in ziplocs after Halloween and use for muffins, etc. (Squeeze out extra moisture after thawing until it's the same consistency as canned pumpkin).
4. When milk's on sale, pour out a cup and freeze the rest (you need head room because frozen milk expands). Allow to thaw in fridge and shake. (I have not tried this, only read about it).
5. Make up a double batch of cookies, banana bread, casseroles, etc. and freeze the second one.
6. Every time you buy or make cookies, save out a few. Eventually, you will have a nice variety plate.
7. Make popsicles or fudgsicles. (if your freezer isn't frost free, it might build up the frost, but for most people, it's fine).
8. Buy chicken and meat on sale and freeze raw in portions just large enough for one meal, or freeze ziplocs of cooked/chopped meat for use in casseroles or stir fry, etc.
9. As slcdms wrote, chop sale-priced pepper, celery or onion and keep in ziplocs.
10. If you buy or make real whipped topping, you can flash freeze little blobs on waxed paper, then bag up when frozen. When you make pudding or something, retrieve one blob for each serving. This will keep family from eating it up in big scoops (!) and stretch it. (I have not tried this yet either).
11. Cook up chicken or turkey carcass for broth (add carrot, onion and celery while it's cooking for flavor, then discard the veggies and strain).
12. Save bits of leftover veggies from several meals over the course of several days or weeks. Then, make soup.
To increase savings, wash and reuse ziplocs, as long as they haven't had meat in them. If you want to re-use a meat-containing ziploc, keep it/store it in the freezer at all times and label it.
To help freezer organization, keep all the little bags of like items together, in a grocery bag or other larger container. You don't want to chase them all over or lose them.
Measured spoons full of tomato paste work well when frozen on waxed paper too. Then slide them in a bag to store in the freezer. When cooking you can get out the measured amount you needed. I started this as I would never use up the whole can and it doesn't store well to save.
I have frozen the milk and find the 2% or skim milk works best for thawing to drink. For use in cooking, not a problem.
Good freezer tips ~ LiseP
I will definitely have to try that with both tomato paste and whipped cream. That would be enormously handy. I usually use a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and then scrape the rest into a bag and freeze. The problem is that then you're committed to using the entire amount the next time you need it. I'd never thought of freezing juice either. Usually if we had any left, I'd wheedle DH until he drank it. It's amazing all the simple little tips that just never occur to you, but make you go "aha" when you hear them.
I have reused ziplocs and also reuse aluminum foil as long as it's not got food on it.
I'd forgotten about the price match at Wal-Mart. I worked there only briefly and pushed it out of my mind. We don't shop there a lot because their meats can be awful. When they first built the Super Wal-Mart about twenty minutes down the road, we were so excited, but the hamburgers we made dissolved on the grill. I did some reading later about how they add gasses to the meat to keep the red color and water to increase the weight. One item they do carry that we go there for specifically is turkey tenderloin. About $7 but I've never had more delicious turkey and it can easily make three meals. Very good substitute in recipes that call for pork (for those of us who don't eat pork).
I'd like to recommend again the versatility of buttermilk instead of milk in cooking. I use it in every single recipe that calls for milk, put in our scrambled eggs, and have even made a wonderful ice cream out of it. I don't watch the expiration date because, to me, it's already gone over and a little more won't make much of a difference. I'm sure it would eventually go bad at some point, but I've never reached it. I still wouldn't drink it plain, though some people like my sister do.
Two freezer-related questions:
Do you just pop bananas in the freezer as they are?
Is there any help for freezer-burnt meat?
Myself, if I'm gonna use the bananas soon will just pop them loose into the freezer. The skin protects them for a while. Otherwise I'll pop them into a freezer bag.
I have to agree on the buttermilk! Great used in cooking. I can never manage to save enough to cook with being like your sister and just drinking it straight...it's my treat to myself.
I was getting ready to go shopping tomorrow and looked on line at the Kroger ad. They have a buy one get one free on all Kroger bar or shredded cheese. You can also freeze cheese. Tomorrow is the last day of this sale.
Printed several coupons off the net to use too. Just search for what you need, and usually you can find a coupon.
Stonyfield whole milk vanilla yogurt with granola was my favorite treat, but I've given it up. Sis uses it for her digestion - also because she likes it - and swears that it's better than any yogurt.
Freezer burnt meat at our house usually ends up in the dogs' dinners. I wonder, though, if it were a thick cut like a roast if you trimmed off the outside after thawing, washed the middle and smelled it. Usually my nose tells me when something from the freezer has been there too long. If the center smelled all right, I'd probably cook it.
Buy one, get one on cheese is an excellent deal. We did that on bags of potatoes this week.
I find cheese freezes best if shredded first. When frozen in block form, it seems to be mushy when thawed. That is one "staple" I keep in the freezer at all times.
On the freezer burned meat. I trim the discolored meat off the cut and wash the meat. If it smells good, it gets used. To prevent freezer burning the meat, all air must be removed from the package. Those that have vacuum sealers should not have that problem. I wish but it is not in the budget so I package everything but ground meat in water. That removes the air and prevents freezer burn damage. We recently ate a package of venison that was 9 years old. (amazing what you find that hides in the bottom of the freezer). It had no bad taste or discoloration.
Good thought to shop the sale flyer online Sandra. I need to start doing that here.
Good advice on the freezing of meat; I must try that next time.
There seem to be a lot of sites that offer coupons, but generally these are for name-brand items which often are more expensive than the store's own brand. However, two for one is hard to beat!!
Well, since we are talking freezer tips. If you buy fresh mushrooms, you can freeze them. I put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer, let them freeze firm and then put them in a small freezer bags and just write the date on them. Supposed to be good for 3 months. I prefer them to canned mushrooms, but they go bad so quickly. I don't think they would be great raw in a salad (a little mushy), but as long as you are cooking them, you can't tell. I just throw them in the skillet or crockpot frozen and it works great!
I will definitely try the tomato paste.
Even if you only have one bowl of soup or chili left--it can be a meal or snack for someone, if you have the room to freeze it, I always do.
I am usually alone for lunch and try to use up things that way. I used to throw it out if it was not enough for a whole meal, but since groceries have gone so high, I try to not waste anything.
I grew up in Europe after WWII; throwing out food was NEVER done, ever. My parents nearly starved to death in the last winter of the war so food was always precious. If we had leftovers and there wasn't enough to go around for the five of us, my mother would stretch it into a meal by adding soup before or pancakes after....
I still never throw food away.
We don't waste anything. If we won't eat it then, I'll save it and reuse it. If that's not possible, then surely one or more of the pets will eat it. If it's not something for them, then it goes into the compost. I'm debating now on what to do with some ten year old self-rising flour that's been in a tupperware container packed up in a box of my mother's. The baking soda is probably deactivated by now, but I don't know if I want to take the chance of killing anything helpful in the compost tumbler. I may just sprinkle it around the base of some plants.
I eat leftovers every day for lunch. Good when it's something I liked, but less than exciting if it was a dud.
My salsa attempt (less than great) this past week will go in the freezer. The next time I have a recipe that calls for tomatoes and peppers, I'll add it. I can't waste those tomatoes and peppers - I grew them!
I use half of a can of mushrooms and then freeze the rest.
harkening back to the depression days, my mother told me that she, three siblings, her parents and an uncle lived on hamburger, potatoes, canned peas and bread for two whole years. she would fry the hamburger to make a patty for each adult and the drippings were made into a gravy over bread for the children, that, along with the mashed or fried potatoes and peas was their dinner every single night. when she would make it for our family, she called it depression dinner.
my grandfather was lucky in that he had a job but my great uncle's job was to troll the train tracks for coal that had spilled off the box cars. this was how they stayed warm all winter. they also used the same bath water, once a week, for washing. even then my mother was a little prima donna. she always insisted on being first in line. the wash tub was brought into the kitchen and filled with hot water from the stove.
Hamburger is a great money saver. So many things you can do withit and cheaply.
Tonight we had Cottage Pie.
Brown the burger with your fav. spices and put in the bottom of a casserole dish. Put a layer of cooked veggies on top of burger. We use either spinach or zucchini. Layer a cup of cheese if you have it. Make some mashed potatoes and spread thickly on top of it all. Bake for half an hour or so until bubbly.
Costs about $6.00 and will feed 4.
i'm going to try that recipe tomorrow night! it sounds really good. thanks!
Can I just bring up the credit card thing again???
Just curious as to what everyone is charging on their cards if they are trying to save $?
Big thing we did years ago to save $ is take out a home equity loan and pay off our car payment we saved 4 % points. I don't know if they changed the rules recently but we also payed our mortgage balance with a home equity loan saving $ on refinance charges. We pay our credit cards off each month so that's not a problem.
I ripped up my credit cards years ago. I have great relationship with the loans officer at my Credit Union. If any emergencies arise and I need cash quick she'll give me that amount in an overdraft which I can pay back in monthly payments at minimum interest.
We aim to pay off our credit cards every month too. However, like so many people now, it is not getting easier. I try to use them as little as possible.
It does help to have a friendly banker, for sure.
We use them for purchases at work. It is easier for accounting purposes to sit down once a month and write one check for what ever use the items were purchased. Only one entry in the cash disbursements journal instead of six to twelve. I also prefer to use a card that pays a cashback bonus.
I also use it for online ordering but limit the monthly amount spent and have the cash to pay for it before the bill arrives. Never in a hundred years would I use it for fuel or food. Too easy to buy without regard and too hard to pay at the close of the cycle.
Thanks! I knew a lot of HTML by heart years ago, now I never use it. Use it or loose it, hmmm?
Great freezer tips, LiseP; I've used a number of those tips but haven't heard or thought of some of them. U can also freeze grapes or other small fruit on a tray, then put them in a ziploc. Then, you can just take out what you need.
i use credit cards for everything. you can't get a plane ticket or rent a car without one and you can't build up good credit if you pay everything in cash.
my discover card has a high interest rate but i pay it off each month and i only use it for certain things during certain months. october through december it gives me back 5% on groceries and restaurants. other months it's gasoline or home improvement, etc. there are set limits. for example, anything up to 400 in groceries, so if i spend 400 between now and december 31, i get 20 cash back.
i like credit cards because everything i spend for the month is there in black & white and it shows me what areas i'm spending too much in and helps me cut back. i did drop chase (not cancelled because that cancels out part of your credit rating) but cut up and will not use anymore. they raised my interest from 7 to 14.84 two months ago for no reason other than their greed. capital one is the best cc i've ever had and are good people to do business with, so far! lol
i haven't had to order bank checks in years. i write maybe 2 checks a month at most and i have a whole box full from when i opened this account 5 years ago. i do all of my banking and paying bills online so i don't go through stamps, envelopes, risk late fees from slow mail, etc.
it may not work for everyone but it works for me.
Works for us also Track, much easier for me to keep track of my spending if I can just pop open a window and see where it all went. Besides I average about 100.00-150.00 reward bucks every 3 months or so. I exchange them for Amazon Gift Certificates 99.9% of the time. Our credit card company (which is also our mortgage company, bank, car & home insurance company) so far hasn't done anything like what's being posted about. So far we've had a great relationship with them.
My vet's office no longer takes checks, only cash or credit cards, so I'll keep my credit union card (10.99%) open. DH is not allowed to use them at all without permission or in an extreme emergency. I only used mine usually for large purchases or an occasional internet plant purchase and planned in advance how to pay it off. The woman who shops with a list and has her budget calculated out through 2013 married the man who whips out a credit card whenever anyone waves something shiny in front of him.
Keep in mind that legislation just recently passed regarding credit card companies includes provisions to charge annual fees to people who keep card accounts open but don't use the cards. They're also allowed to lower your limit or increase your interest rate based on where you shop, so don't use a credit card in the dollar store.
Citi and Bank of America are the thorns in our sides.
and getting back to the original idea for this thread, i just scanned my grocery bills for the past month online and i'm spending about 50 a week, much better than i even thought!
my new rule these past few months has been, pick it up/think about it/put it down and we're still eating very well, just not putting stupid stuff in my basket anymore. i've also started clipping coupons and although i usually buy cheaper store brands, there are a few things i've really saved on with the coupons and the buy one/get one free thing. fresh express butter lettuce (my fave) was buy one/get one free and then i had a coupon for a dollar off, so two bags of lettuce cost me 2.59 as opposed to 7.18 (which i wouldn't have paid). i also don't clip coupons for things that "sound good". they usually aren't and it ends up being a waste.
i like a really lean, well organized pantry with stuff that i actually use! nothing in there sits; it's a working pantry. i also am careful about things i buy in large sizes. i know it's a savings usually, but not if you don't use up that "last little portion". i buy the cheapest, biggest, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil i can find (usually ends up being Vigo) but i don't buy large bags of things like flour because i hardly ever use flour. i'd rather have a fresh small bag. anyway, that's the way my mind works. lol
I've always been bad about buying food items that we end up not using. There are two boxes of tapioca in my pantry, plus who knows what else. I think it's time to clean out. I'm going to try moving my shopping day to Wednesday, so I'm assigning myself that task for tomorrow night. And I got messed up on my cooking nights by cooking on Saturday which fed us Sat-Sun, so I cooked again tonight with enough to tomorrow as well. Maybe we'll scrounge on Wednesday night and I'll pick up the schedule again on Thursday. That will save us the cost of a couple of meals for this week.
The free plantains (or fried green bananas as we dubbed them) were pretty good. I followed the instructions from the Cuban coworker who gave them to me. It made an interesting addition to our dinner.
Has anyone noticed a relationship between amount spent at the grocery store and how frequently you shop? I think that it's helpful in spending less now that I'm only going once a week instead of the two or three visits I used to make. Less opportunity to impulse shop for sure.
Absolutely! If you run in for a few things impulse buys happen. You're hungry/thirsty so you grab a candy bar, chips, soda. Not sure what's for dinner? You find a good piece of meat in your price range and want salad with it but are you out of the fixings. Was there any more pasta in the pantry or parmesean? End up buying a whole lot more than intended. That is where the menu and the grocery list come in handy.
I keep a not so lean pantry. I want to fix most anything without going to the store. Today was cold, hard rain and dreary. I was trapped inside and wanted something. Ended up making chocolate chip cookies which I rarely do. Nice to have the fixings handy.
yes absolutely for me too. i shop once a week. the sunday paper always has two fat inserts full of coupons and the walgreens coupon flyer is also included. normally walgreens isn't that much of a deal but sometimes it's great. they always run buy one/get one free on vitamins/supplements and once a month or so they really slash prices on scott's toilet paper and i won't give up scott's!
armed with my coupons and my list, i head out on tuesday, wednesday or thursday. when i get to the store, i allow enough time to go through almost every aisle. rushing through a store also seems to bring on binge buying. i read labels, compare prices and check out any 2 for 1 sales but there are a few aisles that i totally ignore-the chips/snacks, soda and candy aisles. stores are laid out so that something you really need is located on that same aisle but familiarize yourself with your store. if the bread and candy are on the same aisle, fix your path so you don't pass the candy. grab your bread from the other end and then turn around.
we almost always start our evening meal with a salad. it's filling and better for you than diving headlong and hungry into something less healthy. it doesn't have to always be the same old lettuce and tomatoes either. you can skip the lettuce altogether and slice up some canned artichoke hearts, thinly sliced onions, a few black olives and a fresh fruit diced over it, whatever is in season and on sale. for the above salad i would try and add something red like a juicy red plum, quartered red grapes or a diced apple with the peel intact. i never salt salads, just course ground black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a shake of red vinegar.
sometimes when i get home, i put everything away and think, "darn, all this food and nothing to eat" (meaning no junk food) but after a while you get used to not "snacking stupid" as i call it. a carrot stick will never take the place of a heath bar!!! so do allow yourself an indulgence once in a while. if i do buy a candy bar, i put it in my purse and get home, get the groceries put away, make a cup of coffee and sit down with my candy bar and relax, even if it's only for 10 minutes. when the candy is gone, it's gone and i feel satisfied.
Definitely a tiny treat now and then is needed to keep from feeling deprived.
Has anyone noticed the low cost of pork? Pork tenderloins are running, on sale, for about $1.49 a pound. It is usually very lean and tender - very little waste.
As for credit cards - we've used the low interest balance transfers for farm operating loans. The interest rate is less than what we can get at the bank. The trick is to remember when the rate expires and the trick is not to use that credit card for anything but the balance transfer. For example, we bought a hay rake and swather several years ago with an American Express balance transfer for 2.9% .