Being frugal is a not the same as being cheap! I am going to share with you some money saving and time saving tips for dinners at home. Organization is key. It may take a little extra time one day a week but the time and the money you will save throughout the week is worth it. You will gain peace of mind and a strong sense of accomplishment from what can be a daunting task for busy lives. Here are some steps to help you get started.
1. Clean out your fridge and pantry. Once a month I do the big clean out. Now is the time to let go of holiday spices, that jar in the fridge that has 3 olives left in it, or ingredients you won’t use this season.
2. Know what you have on hand and what needs to be used. If I have produce that is not as fresh as I want it to be, I put it in the freezer bag along with my vegetable ends that would normally go into compost and save up until I have enough to make a vegetable broth, that is about 3-5 cups of veggies.
3. Write up a weekly menu plan as you are writing your list for the grocery store. Match up what needs to be used from your pantry and fridge and go from there.
4. Try to limit your trips to the grocery store. This will save you valuable time and money.
5. When planning your meals, pay attention to the fruits and vegetables that will spoil first and have them earlier in the week. Cabbage, cauliflower or potatoes can be saved for the end of the week. Frozen vegetables can be bought and added for soup or a casserole and have shelf life of at least a month in the freezer.
6. When trying out new recipes, be aware of the recipe calling for a new ingredient that you may only use once. Many spiced that might be asked for in a new recipe can be bought in a bulk section of a store.
7. When making dinner, make enough for leftovers. This is a big lunch budget money saver.
8. Big batches of hot cereal or quinoa can be cooked up and frozen in muffin tins (no liner is needed) once the are frozen, I run a little water over the bottom and pop them out like ice cubes. They store well in a freezer bag and are super handy to have for a quick healthy breakfast. Leftover quinoa can also be sorted in a snack size freezer bags. Your freezer is your friend. If I have leftover cornbread, I will crumble on a cookie sheet and toast it until light brown. I use this as a topping for a tamale pie topping or on top of tortilla soup.
9. I steer clear of coupons unless it is something I absolutely use. Most coupons are not for products that are primarily whole foods.
10. Buy in bulk when you can. This is a great way to explore new grains you might want to try, gluten free flours and spices new to you.