Tomatoes from my plants.
Recently while perusing the internets I have found more and more news articles and blogs on the subject of “thrifty living” I’m not really surprised, with more and more people heading to the unemployment office and joining our side of the tracks everyday, ways to save money is a popular subject. But when I look at these articles I feel like they are missing a few key factors, so, I feel like I need to get my “two cents” in on this “thrifty living” business with a series of blogs. To get things started there are a couple things you have to know about thrifty living, First and foremost, thrifty living isn’t some kind of chic hipster fad, (though the hipsters might think it is) living thrifty is a lifestyle, it isn’t just “I’ll shop at Wal-Mart, not Target, or, “I just wont buy movies this month” or “i’ll just get generics” no, no, it’s a full blown lifestyle change and it can be a pretty daunting task to cut little things here and there, and replace little things here and there in every aspect of your life. Secondly, If you are looking up ways to save money, chances are you’ve recently entered the poor house, and that’s fine there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! There is nothing wrong with changing your lifestyle based on recent economic hardships and the sooner you get over that stigma of “being poor is bad, being rich is good” the better off you will be in the long run. With that said lets get to my first topic, Food!
Food Tip Number One: Never cut the food budget.
Food is the single most important thing that we buy for ourselves, after all, food is the thing that is keeping us alive and nourished, so why would we skimp on quality food? I know others have said to “buy more canned food” or “buy more frozen veggies and fruit”, or to buy more boxed up crap! After all, it is cheap, and it does appear to be cheaper than fresh foods, but it isn’t cheaper, it’s slowly draining your bank account with every trip to the grocery store. Never EVER buy premade packaged foods, there is a reason this crap is cheaper than fresh food, it’s because it isn’t food!!
Here’s a break down of the food in any typical grocery store:
Fresh meat- including poultry
Canned – the only reason to have canned food is for emergencies canned food from the store should never be a staple in anyone’s diet
Avoid ALL canned, boxed, bagged, and prepared meals, it’s a waste of money, and none of that stuff is good for you, it’s all junk. There are a few exceptions to this rule though. Those exceptions are Rice (not minute rice), Pasta (not pasta sides), flour, Sugar, coffee, bouillon (if you must), salt, pepper, some herbs, Oatmeal (not instant),dried beans, and baking items like Baking soda and baking powder. The basics. Between the two of us ( my husband and Me) I can make seven meals with one bag of lentils, a large bag of rice lasts us two months, with a whole chicken I can make 5 meals, with a whole fish I can make 2 meals, with a pound of broccoli I can make four to five meals, with one bag of spaghetti noodles we have a weeks worth of spaghetti goodness! The list goes on, and on! So never, EVER buy that premade crap again! You will find once you switch over you’ll have more food, and you will eat less because guess what, real food is actually filling, not filler.
You may be wondering now, “well how the hell do you get so many meals out of one thing” I’ll let you in on a little secret, DON’T THROW ANYTHING AWAY!Simple suggestion and here’s why, you can make multiple meals out of leftovers, I will use one recipe as an example, Whole roasted chicken, with broccoli, and rice, after this meal take all of the meat off the chicken, put it in the fridge for tomorrow. Take the chicken bones, ALL the skin, and all of the fat, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it. Save the drippings in a container in the fridge Do the same with the broccoli, save ALL the stalks and freeze them (all the bits you didn’t use in the meal). Only make as much rice as you know you’re going to eat, but if you make more, it’s all good, save it for tomorrow. The next day make a chicken stir-fry with
I call this Bizzaro Broccoli
the leftover chicken and rice, or you could do a chicken, rice, and gravy with the leftover drippings, OR a chicken alfredo! or you could do all three, that’s four meals right there! For bigger families I understand you wont get the 5 meals, but, you could easily get 3, I grew up in a family of 5 and my mother regularly made multiple meals out of one chicken. Then, at the end of the month look through your freezer and start collecting up ALL the “discarded” Veggie bits and animal bones and make some soup stock! There really isn’t a set way to make it, just throw it all in a pot and boil it all day long, 8 hours minimum, once it’s all done strain it and you can either make some soup that day, OR freeze the stock for later and it will keep for months, and when your ready to use it just thaw it out! Simple, Simple! At the end of the month you’ll be surprised how many food bits you’ve collected up, in fact, you wont be able to use them all for one soup stock because there will be too many! It’s real simple stuff and it’s a huge money saver, it’s super healthy, and once you start doing this regularly you won’t understand why you didn’t do this from the beginning!
Food tip Number Two : Always buy in bulk if you can, it’s cheaper, and NEVER miss a sale!
Buying in bulk is an important one, if your grocer has bulk bins buy from them! Whether it’s coffee, beans, cheese puffs of cereal always buy in bulk if you can, especially if you have a family of little minions to feed! Sales are just as important as bulk, and never, EVER pass up a good sale, it doesn’t matter if you have ground beef in your freezer, if the store is having a mega sale on ground beef, don’t pass it up just because you have some ground beef already, buy it now while it’s on sale and stock up on it! That goes for everything, not just food, but more on that later. This may seem like the exact opposite of what you should to, but trust me, if you can get a LB of burger meat for a dollar one day, and the rest of the month it’s 3 dollars a LB, it’s just stupid to pass it up. You’ll be eating a lot of ground beef that month, sure, it happens, you’ve gotta take what you can get, when you can get it for a little as possible, but hey, you can do a lot with raw ingredients, so it’s all good! Also, know when the big sales are, for example Holidays, Turkey at Thanksgiving time is on sale, Hams at Christmas, and Corned Beef on patty’s Day! Buy a few of those suckers on those sale days if you have room to store them and you will be eating like kings for a fraction of the price!
Tip Number Three: Always look in the discounted food bins! And buy from them!
Don't be afraid of discounts!
I buy a lot of food and miscellaneous stuff from the discount bins, and surprisingly some people think this idea is gross, WTF?! Just to make this clear discounted food stuffs are your friend! Here’s what you should be doing if you want to save money. Buy all of your baked goods from the day old bakery bin, buy ALL or as much meat as possible in the discount section and freeze it, < same goes for seafood, most stores have a discounted cans and other miscellaneous things section, buy up those cans, buy those labeless condiments, and if you really want junk food make a promise to yourself to only buy it from this section, that way you can still get some of that junk you crave, but it doesn’t show up all that often. Also this section often has discounted headache tablets, Tums and other things like that, buy those from this area also when they show up, and as a general rule remember as long as the seal is intact it’s good to go!
You can also get fruits and veggies at heavily discounted prices, all you have to do is ask the produce manager if you can look through the produce they didn’t put out on the “floor”, because what their job is, is to take the fruits and vegg that may have spots, or are oddly shaped, you know the “imperfects” and throw them out, some stores may donate to the food bank, but by the time the vegg gets there it’s pretty wilted and you have to use it up that day, so ask the produce people at your local market and you can get loads of free, or heavily reduced fruits and veggies.
Tip Number Four: Never buy bottled water. It’s just filtered tap water!
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but just don’t buy bottled water. If you have bad water, or you are just grossed out by the idea of drinking straight tap water (for whatever reason) buy a Britta filter, or some other filter, the pitcher kind works great, the facet ones are awesome! And buy a reusable BPA free plastic bottle, I have a Nalgine bottle that I love and take everywhere with me. Again, this is a super simple way to save money, and not only that, you’re keeping plastic out of the earth! WIN WIN!
Tip Number Five: Start Canning.
That’s right, just like grandma, old lady crafts… blah blah. Just do it! Start canning, get a canning book, a big pot, some jars and lids and get to it! You’ll never have to buy artificial jams again, you’ll never again buy pickles loaded up with additives and colorants, You will never have to suffer through metallic tasting green beans again, and yes, they taste VERY metallic once you haven’t had them for a while, all of those tin canned veggies taste like metal! (bleh) You will be able to fully capitalize on ALL of the veggie and fruit sales because you can save all of those summer veggies for the winter and the winter veggies for the fall. Canning is awesome, healthy, easy, and best of all it saves a ton of cash!!
Tip Number Six: Never buy herbs, Grow them yourself!
My herb boxes.
This is pretty self explanatory, buying herbs is expensive, and you don’t get very much for the price you are paying. So start growing them! It’s easy, you can start from seeds if you want, but I recommend buying plants that have already started growing, they are cheap, they grow like weeds, and they just keep on giving you yummy herby goodness all year! Now, if you have to buy herbs because you can’t grow them in your area, or you only need a little bit for a recipe, check the dollar stores! That’s the only place I will buy herbs if I need to buy them because you get the same amount or more then you would at the regular grocery store for only a dollar! You just can’t bet that price! And if buying food from the dollar store weirds you out this fun little fact may make you feel better about it, ALL of the herbs I have ever bought at the dollar store are grown and packaged in the good ol’ USA! Again, you just can’t beat that at the grocery store!
Lastly, and this is a big one;
Tip Number Seven: Go to the food bank if you need it.
I know there is a stigma about going to the food bank, and some people just don’t want to be seen there because they think it makes them look like a failure, or, maybe it’s just embarrassing for some people because they don’t want others to know they are hard up for food, I don’t know what some of the reasons are for not going, but I do know of one big reason to go, it’s free food to feed yourself and your family. The food bank is there for you when you need it, so go to your food bank, and who knows, you may be surprised by who goes to the food bank. But one of the best things I ever got from the food bank was the sense of community and fellowship that comes with it, everyone is super nice, and caring, and not only that when you go to the food bank they usually have other resources there as well, some of them have a “free store” where you can get some new clothing, and some of them even have info on housing and tuition assistance. Just remember food banks are a good thing and it is ok to use them, so use them! Also, once you get out of the poor house donate to them! Hell, even when you’re in the poor house donate if you can!! I knew several people whom had Chickens, Cows, and gardens and they would donate eggs, milk, and extra fruits and veggies every week! Oh and here’s a good idea, if your new herb garden gets big enough you can donate the extra herbs! WIN, WIN!
Alright, well, that’s it for food tips I think. This will be Continued another day with Cleaning Supplies and Beauty Supplies!