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.