16 Ways to Feed Your Family on a Budget - Part 2
by, 03-12-2009 at 08:32 PM (12871 Views)
#8 - Local Meat and Produce Markets
I knew a lady who went to the butchers and bought a side of beef, all cut up, every year when she got her tax refund. It gave her meat for the whole year for her family, and the price per pound was amazingly low! She kept them fed well on steaks and chops at less than ground beef price! If you can't use a whole side yourself (even in a whole year) go in with a friend - or several friends!
Likewise, in the summer our town has a wonderful produce market. I go there and stock up on bushels of this that I will cook, or at least blanch, and freeze in Tupperware in handy meal sized portions. It is like having my own frozen foods section - right in my own home! Not only is it convenient, but the food is better quality, and a lot cheaper!!
#9 - Pick Your Own
I remember as a child going strawberry, cherry, apple, and peach picking with my family. We brought home our bounty and made jams, pie fillings, and wonderful things for the freezer and pantry! What a fun time it was - and we always had the highest quality foods on hand! Make it a family day and even the kids can pit cherries or cut strawberries - or just empty the trash! It is a great way to save money, make wonderful food, and family memories at the same time!
#10 - Eat More Beans and Lentils
We have all heard it many times - but yet we don't really take it to heart. Beans, lentils and pulses are all excellent forms of protein and way cheaper than meat and poultry. They are also very tasty! To keep your food bill low try incorporating a pea soup, or bean dish, flavored with meat. Try new recipes on your family until you hit a winner! Then guard those recipes like the gold that they are!
My husband loves meat, but even he loves my chili! Just between you and me there is precious little meat in it - it is mostly a mélange of different beans, but all he tastes is the beef - so he eats healthy and doesn't even know it! Give it a try!
#11 - Breakfast For Dinner
You can also try the breakfast for dinner approach. Breakfast foods are notoriously inexpensive and easy to prepare. Make yourself a good BASIC MIX and keep it on the shelf in a Tupperware container ready to pop out and whip up a quick batch of pancakes or waffles in a flash!
#12 - Pasta Please!
Finally, pasta with meat sauce is good - and cheap too! I chop up my beef and mix it into the red sauce so it gives the appearance (and taste) of more meat than is really there. Also, tuna, chicken, and turkey in a casserole or sauce over pasta are winners too! Become a sauce making expert and pasta will be your life long friend in the kitchen!
#13 - Try The Home Grown Approach!
I always had a garden when I lived in New York. Since moving to Texas I have not had as much luck. But if you live in a climate when even a small container garden is an option - go for it! I just LOVE gardening! If space is an issue try growing only those things which would be most expensive to buy - like specialty lettuces and tomatoes. If you can only grow a few things you can make a pact with several friends. Each of you could grow one or two items in gross quantities which you agree to split up equally come harvest time. That way everyone benefits!
While growing your own is by far the cheapest way to get your fruits, berries and vegetables make sure you don't go overboard in the garden department of your local home improvement center. You can spend more money on "needed" supplies and plaster gnomes than you would save by growing your own produce! But, if it turns from a hobby into a passion - go for it! Just keep it to a manageable level!
#14 - Buy Discounted Items
I also like to buy discounted items, meats especially. I either cook them immediately and freeze in meal sized Tupperware containers or I use them in the next day or so. This works well for produce too. I will get apples and stew them for apple sauce, just make sure to clearly label those Tupperware containers. Apple sauce and gravy look a lot alike when they are frozen! Trust me, I know!
#15 - Start a Pantry
I have always had a pantry and a chest freezer to store extra items. I can't tell you how many times we have had a bad month and those two have saved us! So start saving now, keep your eye out for a great deal on a freezer and be ready when opportunity strikes! Keep in mind that if a freezer is more than three years old it probably will cost you more in energy than you save on the "great used price" you are getting it for. I had been saving for months when I ran into a great deal at Lowe's on a scratch and dent model! Just because of a small dent in the side I got a great chest freezer for 50% off! Keep your eyes open and be prepared!
#16 - Institute a Weekly Leftover Day
We instituted "leftover day" at our home and it has reduced food spoilage considerably! We picked one day a week - usually a weekend day when I didn't want to cook or the day just before I went shopping - and we would warm everything up and set it on the counter "buffet style" for our own little eclectic feast!
I would call it a "Nibble Buffet." It consisted of bits of whatever we had on hand - leftovers in the pantry or stray things in the cupboards that were about to expire. They were usually things that did not traditionally go together but I presented it in a fun way and the kids loved it!
If you are going through a lean time check your pantry, your cupboards, and your freezer. Is there anything in there you forgot about that you could make? Have a "Nibble Buffet" before it goes to waste!