Since being poor is most of what I think about these days, here are a few things I’ve learned this year about feeding your family in 2012.
2. Don’t buy pre-shredded, diced, cut, cubed. Learn how to butcher a larger piece of meat into smaller cuts. We bought a pork shoulder for $11 on sale the other day that we split into two roasts, fajita meat and stir-fry meat. We got over a week’s worth of food out of that $11 cut of meat. Buy whole chickens and roast them.
3. Use everything. After you’ve eaten all the meat off a chicken, boil the carcass down to make chicken stock. After you’ve eaten all the ham off a bone, throw it into a stock pot with a few bunches of collard greens for veggies kids will beg for more of. Save fat from roasts & bacon for future veggie sides; it makes them taste amazing.
4. Eat eggs. Unless you’re on a low cholesterol diet, eggs are awesome. And one of the cheapest forms of protein around. We buy ours in 2.5 dozen pallets. Milk is also amazing. I go through less of it when I buy whole milk, because I’m more satisfied with less, so it saves money overall.
5. Make your own sauces, stocks and soups. They will taste better and cost a fraction.
6. Don’t buy drinks. You can brew coffee or tea for pennies compared to buying prepared drinks. Get a water filter. Comfort yourself with the smug certainty that you’re wasting less fuel by not having heavy liquids transported via road to the store & then your house; you’re using the tap!
7. Bake bread. And donuts and danishes and cakes. Baking is really fun and very tasty. We would not be able to afford sweets if we didn’t make them ourselves from scratch.
8. Don’t buy it in a box if a non-boxed version is available. Buy fresh, buy the base ingredients. Think of algebra and “lowest common denominator”. If you buy groceries that way, you can afford to make very “expensive” dishes.
9. Portions. Learn how to use less of the pricey ingredients. Use less cheese, more milk with a little salt (gets nearly the same taste.) Also don’t expect to eat 1 lb or more of meat a night yourself. We use between 1/3 lb and 1 lb for the whole family entree. That’s how you stretch a 4 lbs chicken into a week’s worth of dinners when you have to.
10. Oh and eat rice or pasta or homemade bread. It fills you up very well and costs very little.
A typical dinner for us consists of a meat & pasta or meat & rice entree, two vegetable sides, and fresh bread. We finish with fresh fruit for desert.
I’ve found that fresh fruit is too expensive. A single apple is $1, but applesauce is like 30 cents for the same amount of food. I eat beans and oatmeal for protein.
We try to buy seasonal produce when it’s on sale. This year we are going to start canning green beans and such, maybe make some jams.
I try to follow the same tips you’ve given minus the bread, rice and grains. While I love them they don’t really love me so it’s been an adventure. Just thought I’d suggest checking out farm markets for their ‘seconds fruit’. The less visually appealing they don’t put on the main tables can be quite cheaper. Those apples with a mushy spot make great apple butter or sauce and if you get a chance to buy it in bulk you can can or freeze it.
Speaking of a deal at Costco. I buy this huge box of Quaker Oats for seven dollars which contains the amount of about 6 cartons of the largest size at Walmart that costs 5 dollars. Dried beans cooked yourself with a pressure cooker is always a way to make the food dollar go farther. Enjoying your blog.
I haven’t seen you around YouTube for a while. I just found your blog. I am impressed with your obvious writing abilities. I wish you well.