Need to save $ on meals

Crystal - posted on 10/24/2013 ( 5 moms have responded )

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In 3 months we will have 2 children and I'm thinking of ways to save $ anyway we can. I've been thinking about getting a chest freezer for the basement and using that to stock up on meats and breads when I see them on sale. (Our freezer in kitchen is very small) was also thinking to save time especially with a newborn soon to start cooking and freezing meals I've never done that before and wonder if it still tastes good and if it's worth it?? Need some advice please!!! :)

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Nancy - posted on 10/26/2013

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Costco is the only way to go when it comes to buying meat/chicken in bulk for freezing. Just make sure you label the red meat, it all tends to look the same once frozen.

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I feed my family of 3 on about $45 to $75 per week, depending on if I stock up on stuff or splurge for something like shrimp or steaks. In addition to that, I spend about $20/week on wine and I buy a $52 bottle of scotch about 5 times a year, which I do not cook with. I buy cheap dry white wine ($3/bottle),dry sherry and brandy ($6 bottles will last a long time) for cooking--don't cook with the good stuff!

I don't coupon--I never find coupons for the things we eat, and I can't keep up with them for the household items we don't replace often. If I get one at the register, I'll try to use it, but more often than not, I find the hassle is not worth the little I save.

I actually don't freeze much either. I don't have a chest freezer, but my kitchen freezer is pretty roomy. I don't buy frozen foods (except for fish), so I have the entire freezer free most of the time. I never have extra time to cook meals for later. Instead, I make a 6 serving supper and pack the extra 3 servings separately for lunches or pack them together for a second dinner that week. We usually eat them within a few days, so I don't have to freeze them, I can just put them in a pyrex in the fridge. Most recipes are for 4 or 6 people. If you have a family of 4, you'll double the 4 serving ones.

I do cook from scratch. I make our bread--if I bake 2 at a time, I spend 47cents per loaf including the electricity going into my oven! Here a loaf of cheap white bread the same size is $2. A loaf of quality white bread (all natural ingredients) is about $3.50. We use at least two loaves a week, so that's a savings of $6/week or $24/month or $288/year.

I use fresh veggies from our local farmer's market where they cost about 30% less than at the grocery. It is a bit of a drive for me, but because about 70% of what we eat is fruit or veggie, it is worth it.
I also get dried beans from our farmer's market for $1.50 per pound. I use these in soups and chilis to save money on meat, but also because it is just so much healthier. (My husband has been ordered to cut his red meat intake to less than once a week.) I also use them to make hamburger patties.

I make my own spice mixes. We use a lot of taco seasoning, italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, and onion soup seasonings. Most of these are just different combinations of the same spices we keep on hand, but we pay $1-$3 per serving in the grocery. By making them myself out of spices I keep on hand, not only do I cut out the preservatives and dyes, but most of them cost only 7 to 12 cents per serving.

All in all, I've learned that eating "clean" (non processed foods) is WAY cheaper than buying the boxed or frozen stuff at the store. Hamburger Helper, for example, is $1.89/box in my area. I can make the seasoning mixture and add my own pasta to get the exact same thing for less than 50cents. I do buy dried pasta at the store. Here, it goes on sale for $1 a pound regularly and I buy a ton of it. Not on sale, it is about $2 per pound, but remember, a hamburger helper has about 1/4 pound of pasta in it.

Cheese is expensive. It's the only thing I haven't figured out a way to save on. I do look for coupons for cheese if I need a particularly pricey one. I find them online sometimes, but they are hard to come by. I do buy the cheese in blocks, rather than bags of preshredded cheese. I get a little workout in by shredding it, and it's a little cheaper.

Crystal - posted on 10/24/2013

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Thanks Bethany! Yes I feel like I am constantly out of food especially meats when I just went shopping!! My husband is obsessed with working out and eating healthy and eats ALOT of chicken. I also coupon so I get all of the bathroom things free or pretty much free so that does help. I think buying a chest freezer is gonna be the way to go. Now to get my cheap husband to actually buy one ha ha

Bethany - posted on 10/24/2013

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Hey Crystal! I'm on the exact same boat as you! Been begging my husband for a nice chest freezer because the tiny one up here isn't cuttin it anymore! My mother is amazing at keeping track of coupons and she tells me how much she saves on average, and i'm totally blown away. She lives in the states though...and I'm up in Canada where "couponing" isn't really to big....but! That was always her advice. Dont go binge shopping, stay on task, when somethings on sale, buy in bulk and save for a rainy day.
Let me know if you found anything else helpful! I have a husband who eats like a horse and keeping food in the house seems like a constant re-stocking chore.
and about freezing food! I know vegetables are a nice quick one that still tastes amazing! Chop up the peppers and onions, throw them in the freezer, pull them out for a quick stir fry and they still taste as fresh as the day you bought them!

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