Summer Comforts

Plow & Hearth

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Frugal Food Tips

Here is a 'Baker's Dozen' of frugal food tips that I've compiled over the years of limited budgets.  What it's taught me is that saving money on food is also a healthier way of eating.  It is NOT about eating Ichyban noodles every day, or cupboards full of yellow label cans.  It's about using your brain-noodle to spend less and eat healthier.  I hope you find it useful!

1.       Always shop food flyers and clip coupons; make a list of sale items you need, add other essentials you need and try to stick to the list when you shop.

2.       Stock ahead on common items when they’re on sale. Waiting till you run out means paying more when you need it.  Toilet paper is a great example. Good quality paper like Purex goes on sale often, so stock up when it’s 50-60% off, and you will end up paying less than even ‘no name’.

3.       NEVER shop hungry… you will buy foods on impulse that aren’t in the budget and more often than not aren’t good for you.

4.       Avoid processed and pre-packaged foods, you are paying for more processing than actual food, and the food is usually nutrient deficient. 

5.       Buy food in bulk whenever possible, your cost per unit is much lower and the food will last longer. Freeze/store the excess.

6.       Invest in a freezer - it will pay for itself in less than a year with savings on bulk buying.

7.       Get a shopping buddy.  Can’t afford a new freezer or bulk buying? Shop with a friend and split the cost of food, gas or a taxi, and go in together on the cost of a deep freeze.

8.       Learn how to cook – seriously cook, not just reheating frozen dinners and pizza pops. Many good recipes and cooking tips can be found on the internet, even instructional videos.

9.       Make leftovers more exciting… an oven roast tonight means hot beef sandwiches tomorrow, or chop leftover meat with some potatoes and veggies to make a stew.

10.   ‘Stack-a-Veggie Soup’. Got leftover veggies but not enough for a meal? Keep a medium sized plastic container in the freezer, add leftover veggies and freeze till tub is full. Take a few cans of tomato soup, add the frozen veggies, simmer with some spices and voila – a hearty tomato-vegetable soup.

11.   Make your own baby food.  Buy fresh fruits and veggies, wash them well and process them in your blender. Then pour into ice cube trays and place trays in the freezer. Once frozen, the cubes can be put into freezer bags till you need them. You can also do this with your leftovers (as long as you don’t have lots of spices or sodium in your foods) by simply blending up leftover meats and potatoes with a little filtered water. Again, pour into ice cube trays and freeze.  Baby meals can be easily prepared by removing  the frozen ‘food cubes’ as needed and warming in a food steamer. NEVER heat baby food (or any food) in a microwave – it kills the nutrients.

12.   Grow a container garden or a regular garden if you have the space. Food can be grown for pennies a pound and is far more nutritious than store bought.  It will also be an experience you can share with your family. Margarine tubs and milk cartons can be washed and recycled into growing pots for lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and more.

13.   Portion foods using a small food scale and measuring cups. We often seem to cook more than we can eat, and eat more than we need, leading to food waste and over-eating. Portioning helps eliminate this. You will also feel full sooner if you drink a glass of water before eating, and eat foods higher in fibre.