Two worth-repeating!

Two small tips – but they are worth repeating! I know I’ve mentioned them before, and I’m sure this won’t be the last time.
Plan your menus ahead of time! Before you head off to the grocery store, make a list of the meals you plan to prepare. If you shop every two weeks make a list of two weeks worth of meals. Take a look at what you have on hand and what is on sale in the weekly circulars from the grocery stores before you plan your meals.
Use Coupons! This is my favorite tip – it really IS a money saver! If there is a particular item you always purchase look for coupons. If an item is on sale and you have a coupon then buy that item. Don’t use a coupon just because something is new or trendy, only use coupons if they will save you money.

Stock Up!

I know I gave this tip the other day, but I wanted to say it again – when it’s on sale – stock up.

Your first grocery trip on the road to saving money is actually to spend a little more than you are used to. Items that are staples in your pantry should be purchased in large quantity if possible. These include items such as flour, sugar, pasta, dry beans, rice, oatmeal, canned goods, etc. I have a nice little “should have” pantry list I will share.

Now, I have added and pared down multiple lists to come up with this list. If you are not cooking from scratch, some of these items might not be necessary to you, but some I don’t have might be must have’s!

Dry BulkGoods
•Flour(white,wholewheat,and bread)
•Sugar(white,brown and powdered)
•Cornmeal
•Dried beans (kidney,black,split peas,white navy, garbanzo)
•Oatmeal
•Pasta
•Rice
•Soups (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom)
•salt
•baking soda
•baking powder
•Yeast
•Vanilla Extract
•Maple syrup
•shortening
•spices
•dry milk
•dry eggs
•cocoa
•Vinegar
•Olive oil
•Canola oil
•Canned veggies (green beans, corn, tomatoes,tomato sauce,tomato paste)
•Home canned veggies(variety)
•Canned beans
•Canned Fruit(pears, peaches,applesauce,pineapple)
•Canned Meats
•Mac and cheese
•Peanutbutter
•Jellies
•Ketchup, mustard, mayo
•Crackers
•Ramen noodles
•Pasta Noodles
•Popcorn (stick with the kernels, not the “boxed variety”) – its cheaper and healthier!
•Pretzels
•Coffee
•Tea
•Raisins
•Nuts (peanuts,walnuts, almonds)
•Grains-barley, wheat
•Cereals
and many, many more!
So these are the items you should try to stock up on as much as possible! There are many more I can add to this list but for now, this is a basic starter set. You have these, and you can whip up meals, even when you think you have nothing to cook!

A great website is Teri’s Kitchen – she has inventory sheets for all over your kitchen- the fridge, the pantry and the freezer!

Recipes – Clip them, cut them, save them, TRY them!

I want to tell you a little something. Go into almost anyone’s kitchen, and there in a drawer, or a cabinet or in the desk you will find a pile. A pile of what? A pile of recipes that have been clipped and saved thinking that “someday I’m going to try this.” Yes, I’m guilty. Well, not anymore. Because I did something about it. I waited until we had a nice dinner one night. Where I had no cravings, I was full and content. And then I sat down in front of all my clipped recipes and began to sort. The first time I sorted them, I sorted them into two piles – Yummy, I know we’ll try this, and DISGUSTING – what was I thinking? This made it easy. Because amazingly enough, when you are hungry, you will think something sounds good to you even when it won’t. Another way I sorted the disgusting one’s was to think about my children and whether it was something I thought they’d try or not. I don’t make dinners for them. I make them for the family. However, I keep their individual likes and dislikes in the back of my mind when I’m looking for new recipes. If it’s something I know that they are really going to hate, then I usually can it (yep that would be the trash can). No reason to hold onto it if I’m not going to use it. I saved ANY recipes that sounded good, or would be good for “adult only” meals though.

After I had my two piles- the disgusting one’s made their way to the trash. But then I was forced to face a HUGE pile of recipes that I wasn’t quite sure how to organize. Those would be the Yummy ones. So the next thing I did was sort through them in three piles – this time I sorted by my favorite cooking methods – freezer, crockpot & onedish. Everything else went into a fourth pile of “different cooking methods”. After I had my three piles of my favorite cooking methods, I organized them by category – main, side, appetizer, etc.

Then I had to deal with this fourth category – this was a lot more of a challenge. I made several piles (yours might differ), I created a pile for recipes with hard to find ingredients or ingredients that were pretty expensive (ie. some steak recipes calling for wines, etc), and then a pile for recipes containing ingredients I always seem to have on hand, and then my favorite pile of that sort – quick and easy meals. I had a few more piles, in which I cannot think of at the moment, but just use your judgement when you’re doing it. The pile with the “expensive ingredients” actually went to the trash. Why? Because I was looking for budget benders, and quick and easy meals to make for my family. Somehow spending $20 on ingredients for one meal, that most likely wouldn’t be used on any OTHER meals, seemed silly to me. So into the trash for my family. The piles I was left over with, I sorted them into their respective categories in a recipe box. In the front of the recipe box I had 3 tabs for my Freezer recipes, Crockpot Recipes, and One dish recipes already. (I also have a separate section for my home business recipes.

Want to know what happened after all this? I actually started USING all those recipes I had collected up. I discovered things about my family, through trial and error and different recipes – my daughter will eat most seafood if properly presented to her, my son isn’t a total meat and potato kid, he will actually eat veggies when they are seasoned and cooked to his liking. So it was fun, and I got them involved in cooking a lot! That also helped them try the foods they wouldn’t normally have tried. After cooking a meal, who isn’t going to at least TRY it! LOL
So my tip is ORGANIZE those recipes you have all over! Pare down your cookbooks and magazines and really be honest about what you will or will not try.
Get rid of the rest! No reason to clutter up your beautiful sparkling kitchen. I mean you did organize it two weeks ago – right?

Theme: Grocery Stores – (con’t)

For day 1, I need to focus on the most valuable tool I’ve found for my grocery budget! This is something that took me almost a year to master and perfect to work for me and my family. A lot of trial and error and several different recipes, some of which wound up becoming favorites, and some that we hope we never see again! LOL

What is this magic tool that seems to have made life a bit more easy? It’s called FREEZER cooking. I teach a WHOLE class on it with my home business. But I am going to tell you to “google it”. You will find recipes, storage ideas, and more!
Read about it, Master it, Live it!
It saved me in a 4 month period (because that’s how long I’ve been doing it without the rest of the trial and error) over $400!! And I kid you not, these savings are obvious in our budget!

So today’s tip is to LEARN ABOUT FREEZER COOKING! It’s the best there is!

I’m changing this a little

Ok, I’m going to change my format a little here. Instead of having a “day of the week” to give a certain tip, we’re going to have a THEME of the week that will change each week. Some weeks we will repeat the theme later on, but this should work a little better for me, in staying on top of this and more organized!

So today’s tip isn’t a money saving tip – it’s a time saving tip – Before you start something – think it through. LOL I’m only posting this tip because my own stupidity, made organizing these tips, next to impossible!

So what’s the first theme? We’re going to finish our AT THE GROCERY STORE series first! Because it’s the baseline of every other tip I can offer at the store or in the kitchen!

See you tomorrow!

Save those coupons!!

I am continuously amazed to see my neighbors and friends tossing away their “junk mail” without even looking through it. There are coupons for local restaurants usually within that “junk”. Even if it’s a buy a burger get a soda free…think about that – it’s around a $1 savings for something you probably would have gotten anyway! Look through your “junk mail”, coupon paks, newspapers, and more for coupons to local restaurants, fast food, and sometimes you can even find coupons for a buy a ticket get a ticket free to an upcoming concert, etc.
So keep those coupons!!

Eating healthy CAN save Money!

The complaint I hear most is that you spend more on eating healthy, than you would if you bought the junk food. While this is true in some cases, it is not as much as you think!

First, a great way to save money on healthy eating, is to grow your own vegetable garden. Don’t think you can do this? Oh yes you can. Because I didn’t think *I* could until I tried it. Also even if you are in an apartment, they sell miniature sized plants, that you could even grow on your patio or deck. Also, fresh produce is ALWAYS better, but when cooking it into a recipe, frozen veggies can be MUCH cheaper!! So keep that in mind next time you’re preparing a meal!

Wednesday – It’s time to clean again!

This is one of my favorite tips and I’ve been doing it for years!

I put kitchen sponges in the dishwasher. Really just about any kind of kitchen sponge will work. I also sometimes put them in the washing machine when I have a few gentle wash items. They don’t melt and they come out all nice and clean and sterile. Saves me from buying extra.

Laundry Day!

Another great laundry tip I had in my archives:

Softener – Use much less than the packaging says, especially in a a dryer. You need fabric softener with a dryer to cut thestatic cling, and it doesn’t take much for that. A dryer sheet, cut in fourths, can be used twice.
That makes 8 uses per sheet.
Alternatively, use liquid softener and dilute with water. Spray it inside your dryer, or saturate a clean rag and throw in your dryer with the laundry. You can use this several times by dampening the rag between loads. A small bottle will last for a long time!
Fabric softener makes materials lose their absorbency, and they do build up over a period of time, causing them to yellow. There is a health concern regarding their use as well.
It’s wise to kill two (or is that three?) birds with one stone – use vinegar. It’s not as frugal as commercial fabric softener using the methods above, and you must use it in your washer, in the softener dispenser, or in a dispenser ball, or put it in the first rinse water. Use 1/4 cup for a load to get the real benefit. Since vinegar is cheaper than softener, but not drastically so, you’ll save some, but not as much as you could. It will do a number on static cling, though. (And no, it won’t make your clothes smell funny!) OH and you can purchase Vinegar at Sams or Costco in HUGE gallons – saving a bundle that way too. I cannot remember where I got this tip from, however I’ve used it and it works!

Monday – we’re back at the store!

So hopefully you’ve set up your budget. Now that you’ve budgeted an amount, it’s important to try to stick to that as much as you can. HOWEVER there is an exception. If, say, when you are scouring your sales ads each week, you notice that flour is on sale ALOT, stock up. Really this goes for anything that goes on sale at a good cost. Just don’t do it EVERY week. One probably doesn’t need 30 lbs of flour or five 10lb bags of sugar in their cabinet at one time! However, if chicken is on sale, or beef – STOCK up when you can! Try to purchase it frozen as much as possible, because it is usually quite a bit cheaper that way. So my tip today is watch for sales, and stock up on things you use a lot of! With all your from scratch cooking, you should be needing more than you used to, but your cost should go down than your old eating habits!