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I mentioned in my post here, that I would begin a series on the steps I've been taking to save money. I'm not a financial expert or an advisor of any kind. I'm just a woman trying to be a good steward and use her money wisely so I can bless others as God has blessed me.
I will be presenting my strategies in different areas of expenditure starting with my strategies for saving on food costs. Just this week, I read that the world's food costs are rising. Some countries have it worse than others. We in North America are still blessed that food costs do not yet eat up the entire monthly income. Even so, our other costs of living are very high. Saving on food costs is a great way to try and stretch the dollar.
- At home, I make my own coffee and never pay more than $10. for 975 grams of coffee. Folgers or Maxwell House blends are usually the ones on sale. In the past, I bought the higher priced coffee and ground it myself because I can tell the difference between gourmet and regular coffee. What I have found though, is if you get just the right balance of regular coffee grounds and water and you drink the coffee hot and fresh, you can still get a good cup from Folgers or Maxwell House. I also don't drink as much coffee now so the taste differential is not so important.
- I make my own muffins with lots of strawberries or blueberries. Buying store bought muffins is way too expensive and they are way too greasy.
- I buy fresh berries and wash and freeze them for later use. Alternatively, I buy gourmet frozen berries when they on are on sale for at least $3.00 off per bag. These berries are good for making muffins and smoothies.
- I bake my own bread on a regular basis, both oven bread and machine bread.
- I do buy bread from time to time. Sometimes I buy artisan breads but only when it is 50%. I can find marked down bread regularly at my local supermarket and it is fresh enough to use if you eat it within a day or two. I also buy sprouted grain bread on occasion when it is $2.00 or $3.00 a loaf. I freeze it for later use so I only buy 2 loaves at a time if there is room in the freezer.
- I buy popcorn kernels for those rare occasions I want to have popcorn. I don't buy the gourmet popcorn or microwave bags of popcorn because of the additives. I just buy regular kernels and pop them the old fashioned way in a pot on the stove top. I can also use my air popper which has the added advantage of not needing any oil though I do add salt to taste.
- I buy my own extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix it for dipping artisan bread. Paired with a nice entree like baked salmon and salad, this is positively delicious and a fraction of the cost at a higher end restaurant.
- I've learned to make hummus, salsa and guacamole. This is good for those times when you want a healthy snack with pita bread or nachos. I sometimes make nachos for dinner when I feel like a splurge. I use olives, onions, tomatoes, cooked ground burger and lots of cheese. This is spread over the nacho chips and baked in the oven until the cheese is nicely melted.
- I buy bulk spices like peppercorns. garam masala and other spices to make my own curry seasonings, etc
- I purchase bulk legumes (kidney beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans) and soak and cook them ahead of time when I know I want to use some beans. This is much cheaper than buying canned beans and is salt free or at least if you add salt you know what you've added and how much.
- I make food ahead where possible. I have limits on what I can make ahead due to lack of freezer storage.
- I use all my leftovers and seldom throw anything out. I sometimes make a new dish out of leftovers but I don't scour cookbooks to get ideas. I'm quite content to simply warm them up and eat.
- I use all my vegetables before they go bad. I used to waste so much produce because I was never home to cook them and I'd overestimate what I needed. Nowadays any wasting vegetables will go into the soup pot or juicer.
- I purchase large packages of meat and fowl, sometimes big slabs of meat that can be cut up and repackaged in the right portions. Yesterday I purchased a side of center pork loin for just under $31.00. My educated guess is that I saved approximately the same amount of money I spent by buying this large piece of meat and cutting it up myself.
- I do not buy organic produce unless it is leafy, like swiss chard or kale.
- I buy vegetables in bulk and prepare and clean them myself. I also freeze some for soups. This makes a considerable savings and takes only a little time to clean and prepare them. All the scraps can be placed in your kitchen compost bin and added to your outdoor compost as needed.
- If there are luxury food items I want like specialty teas, I will purchase several when they are on sale. This way I don't feel deprived and I won't need to buy any again for a very long time. For example, last week I bought three boxes of specialty tea. The regular price was $4.98 and I think one for $4.59. I got each box for $3.49. I had a savings of just over $4.00 overall. Even one box of these specialty teas cost me less than one fancy tea in the tea shop and I can enjoy tea for weeks and weeks.
- I buy 20 kg. of brown rice at a time (we don't use white rice) and it lasts for quite awhile before I have to buy more. I don't buy it in larger quantities because it would likely go rancid on me and I don't have enough space in the freezer to store it.
- I only purchase smaller packages of meat when they are on sale so I watch the flyers for my local supermarkets. One of them usually has a sale on something we can use for the week.
- I purchase as many food items on sale as possible. When there is a sale, I might buy 2 or more items at the same time depending on the item. This means I may have to forgo buying something else so I don't automatically purchase more of an item just because is on sale.
- I make a lot of soups and stews with less expensive meat and fowl (hamburger, turkey and sometimes chicken). This stretches my meat and fowl provisions and also helps me cut back on the amount of meat and fowl I eat.
- For an inexpensive yet tasty meal that is quick to throw together I will make a bag of Japanese noodle soup to which I add chopped onions, chopped broccoli and perhaps some zucchini. Sometimes I add a few frozen shrimp or a half can of tuna.
- Seafood is very expensive where I live. I have found a place where I can purchase a bag of large, good quality shrimp, for under $5.00. I use these in the soups mentioned above, in a stir fry and in salads.
- I purchase spices in bulk and refill my spice containers as needed.
- I purchase nuts in bulk for snacks and for baking.
- I always buy my eggs at the pharmacy where they are almost half the price of the grocery story.
- I very seldom buy juice or soda. This is largely due to my diabetes so I try to eat fruit or make my own juice. If I buy a juice or soda drink it must be on sale and I will not drink the diet stuff. The diet stuff is junk and harmful to my body. If I'm going to have a soda it might as well be the real thing. It has taken me awhile to get to the point of really limiting the soda intake. Now it isn't a problem.
Well there you have it. My list of top 30 strategies for saving money on my food costs. If you have more ideas to add to this list, please share them!
Come back again soon for more of my top strategies for saving money and stretching my penny until it snaps :-)